Nicole's Story - when you have no choice but to step up; the reality of kinship carers.

Nicole's Story - when you have no choice but to step up; the reality of kinship carers.
Six kids. Can you even comprehend the amount of washing, the cooking, the taxi runs or the endless social lives ad after-school activities? I know I can’t. Now imagine this becoming your life overnight because that is how it happened to this week’s guest Nicole. Yep, overnight she went from the mother of one to five has since increased six. If that’s not enough for you to think that this woman is nothing short of a super hero, both of her biological children (aged 14 and 3) were born with medical complexities. I know my head is spinning just thinking about it.

This week Nicole shares with us the highs, the lows and the fact that sometimes you just have to believe that you are enough.

Who was Nicole before she became a Mum?

I was still the same person as I am today. Just no more partying and sleep ins.

You’re a Mum to six.
Three nephews, one niece and two biological children.
How old are they and what is one thing you adore about each of them?

When they first entered our care they were all babies, two being newborns. Now they are 14, 6, 9, 7 and bios 14 & 3. They all have this spark and amaze me in their own ways, but as a whole they are a caring appreciative bunch of kids.

I ask all my guests this, what is one thing about being a Mum that drives you bonkers?

As a Mum to six, I can’t pick one thing as it wouldn’t be true. There are several things… the lack of long showers, not being able to have a bath alone, no sleep ins, constantly cooking bathing, cleaning and hearing mum over and over. We have five boys… consistently having to put the toilet seat down.

For people reading this who are not familiar with your story, can you share how you came to be the carer for your niece and nephews?

Seven years ago we had an unexpected knock at the door, turning our family of three to eight overnight. It’s not my place to discuss the circumstances as to why they are with us, but they are and everything happens for a reason and their biological parents were not in a position to raise them. Someone had to step up and that is exactly what my partner Russ and myself did with no regrets.

Do you do anything in particular to keep the memory of the children's parent's alive?

Well my sister is living, and sometimes visits, I’ve always raised the kids to understand that they have a mum and dad and that we are just stepping in for now.

Having them maintain their identity is the upmost important thing to us. We try and normalise the situation as best we can. Always being truthful and open with the kids.

Do you ever feel guilty for your biological children and the fact they have to “share” you?

It was a discussion we attempted to have with our then six year old son, we wanted to make sure that we were all ready for this and on the same page. I wouldn’t say I feel guilty because we see them as our own and our biological children wouldn’t want it any other way. I do however feel bad when my time is limited with one more than the other. I guess I’m really lucky my bio son is massively understanding and my daughter is only three so it’s what she has always known.

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What would you like the women who are reading this to know about kinship carers?

That they are incredible, strong and brave. I will admit it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done however what you are doing is so important and will impact and change that little person’s life. I take my hat off to any one that takes on such an important role, it’s a roller coaster emotionally. You face challenges and you just have to keep trying to overcome them. Although it’s hard it’s also so rewarding because your changing someone’s life for the better.

What impact has this had on your relationship? Mental Health?

It’s definitely impacted our relationship at times, more so in the first year or so when it was extremely challenging. Sometimes we would be under so much pressure that we would take it out on one another, living this robotic lifestyle, but you have to take a breather and realise you are in this together and we made this commitment together. My partner and I talk about absolutely everything, communication is the KEY!

Your biological children have had their own health issues.
Your son was born with a cleft palate and your daughter has a rare microdeletion.
To the Mum who is overwhelmed that also has multiple children with complex needs, what are two things that help you function/deal with their complexities?

I’ve never had it easy not when it comes to being a mum. I thought it was hard having a son at 18, then he was born with the cleft which made it harder. Throw in raising an extra four kids with their own complex needs which meant my life was turned upside down overnight right down to losing my job.

At this point we’d also taken on a 5th child unexpectedly. Then I had Scarlett and it was a different kettle of fish. Scarlett was born with a rare micro deletion and had a cluster of seizes when she was six months old, her needs are very complex and it becomes overwhelming sometimes.

I try to remember that I’m doing the best I can, especially on those days when I fall to my knees, cry and feel like a shit mum. I try to remember I put so much pressure on myself because I do care and really… I am actually a good mum and doing my best.

Raising your own babies is hard raising someone else’s is even harder.

To the Mum in a similar situation, I would say that you’re incredible, strong and amazing. We all have our crappy days it’s ok to cry, vent and ask for help. You are not a failure because you need a hand now and then. Xx

Where can you learn more about Nicole?

Nicole has a blog which you can check out here.

Here is her LinkTree.

And of course her Instagram account.

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