A funny thing happens when you publish a book about your life.
It has an ending. And sometimes, what happens next – after the book is published – can make a lie out of that ending, however true you thought it was at the time.
The memoir I published nearly three years ago was about discovering my son is on the autistic spectrum … and then that half my family (including me) is somewhere on that spectrum. But it was also a celebration of difference. With our multigenerational divorces, shared custody arrangements and array of step-parents (and even a foster child), we were pretty far from ‘average’, whatever that is.
But I liked to think that, despite the many fractures in our family tree, rebuilding it our own way had made us stronger. I thought there was something special in that.
I thought the same about my household: my husband I had split up and gotten back together incessantly in the first two years of our relationship, before we moved in together, then got engaged, then married. We squabbled, about things as minor as how tidy a house needed to be before people came over (he liked it spotless, I thought people should take us as we were), and as important as where we should live (he wanted to move to the inner-city, I didn’t want my son to change schools, neighbourhoods, or custody arrangements). I struggled with the fractious moods that were symptoms of his ill health. He was ground down by my anxiety and workaholic tendencies.
I put all of this in my memoir.
We also had an easy rhythm to our relationship: we shared values, we joked together, we both cared passionately about my son. As a threesome, our family fit together, despite all the signs that suggested we might not.
I put this in my memoir too, and considered this one of its messages: love doesn’t always look like what you expect, and nor does family. Flaws don’t mean something doesn’t work.