Families can be diverse, and that’s beautiful.

Dear friends,

Thank you for your support! It’s been lovely to see some people taking an interest, and I truly hope that my guide Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst will be of some use to you all. Please continue to give feedback and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to expand on in this blog.

I thought I’d talk a little bit about my current situation, and what lead me to write my guide. Mine is a bit of a strange story so please bear with me.

So far I have been a stay-at-home carer for 10 years, since my eldest son got his diagnosis of autism in 2009. Our family has a lot of autism, so we’ve always tried to be a very flexible and inclusive family, free of stigma and free of judgement. We muck in. We try and make allowances for each other so everyone feels safe and free to be themselves. Often we’ve had to go against society’s grain- often I’m found on Twitter screaming about the injustices facing Special Needs children, autistic adults, my own choice to stay at home and be available literally 24/7. I’ve been called a “benefits scrounger”, “workshy”, an “attention seeker”. But I will never regret being immediately available when someone in the family needs my help.

I’m also one of the people who found love across the border. My husband is Dutch, and exercised his right to Freedom Of Movement, coming to the UK to study and then work. Shortly after my younger son got his diagnosis he also made the tough decision to give up work and stay at home to help me care for him. It’s been shocking and saddening to see him face even worse stigma for a loving choice. But we muck in. We try to do it with a smile too.

Families can be very diverse, and that’s beautiful.

Sadly society doesn’t always value diverse. It is expected that people will slot neatly into the 2x parents working for a middle class income to feed their 2x children ideal. No more no less. But life has a way of blasting these small parameters wide open. More children may come into their lives. Someone might lose a job. Someone might take a massive pay cut. There might be someone who needs extra care. Someone might be from another country, even another continent. Poverty can strike when it’s least expected. The welfare state isn’t being adequately cared for, so that it can care for us when we need it.

Lately my husband has started looking for a job in his home country, with the hope that we can move there and escape the worst of what is to come in the UK. He imagines a life away from the xenophobia he has endured, and away from the DWP as it becomes crueller and less tolerant of our differences. So it seems odd that we would want to help people prepare for the worst when we might potentially go somewhere else. But I have a couple of reasons why I continue:

  • As much as I would love to move my wider family with me, that’s not going to be possible. I would be leaving behind some very vulnerable people, and my stockpile can be passed on to them.
  • The best laid plans can always fall through, and we may end up staying put for longer than we hope. The security of extra food and water makes the idea of waiting a bit longer more bearable.
  • My stock can also be donated in part to the food banks in my local area. They are always crying out for supplies and I would be more than happy to donate mine if they aren’t needed.

I’ve been through hardship already. I’ve suffered stigma, lack of food, lack of heating, waiting for housing, and screaming for resources when they are thin. I’ve been very lucky that our need was never so dire that we needed to use a food bank, but I see families around me getting very close to the edge already, before the worst has even happened. I want my children to continue to grow up not knowing discrimination, stigma, or hardship of any kind, and to help anyone who struggles. We’ve had to rely on a lot of help, and we always want to find ways to give back.

And I can’t forget my kitten Mae of course:

ZEp-Rd_G

I would love to hear your stories about your own families or individual lives, and what drives you to want to prepare for any difficulties that may arise. My inbox is always open, and I would love to read any comments too!

Samantha

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