Hayley Matthews: I’m only interested in a game of Happy Families

Enjoying Father's Day was the best tonic for Hayley
Enjoying Father's Day was the best tonic for Hayley
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It’s been a week of many mixed emotions for me. The feeling of gratefulness that I have a wonderful partner, who is an ­incredible dad, yet feeling sad for those posting on social media about absent fathers.

There also came the reminder of the breakdowns in my own family when I was on the Kaye Adams show on BBC Radio Scotland talking about estrangement. This was on the back of Thomas Markle speaking up since the wedding.

I was asked how I deal with estrangement. For me, I had no choice but to cut my mum off last year after taking the dent from her toxic actions. I did it for my own sanity and despite feeling guilty, the absence of the pain she causes helped balance the books. However it’s different for everyone and we all have to make choices that are best for us.

It’s easy to say, but let’s not be sad, let’s make the best of what we DO have. Enjoy the good friends and relatives around us. Just because someone is blood doesn’t mean they have your best ­interest at heart, there are selfish people out there and many of them sadly, are parents and siblings.

Estrangement can be hard but it’s a decision most don’t take lightly. Sometimes you don’t have any choice at all. Some have families who they don’t want to be with and some have families who don’t want to be with them. It’s ­something we don’t talk about much but estrangement is a factor that many families are familiar with.

I listened to a speaker from Standalone, a charity set up to help people deal with estrangement, who was also on the show, and I can see how they could help many people. If you’re in that situation, like I am, then I hope they can offer some advice.

In the meantime though, instead of dwelling on the dysfunctionality of my ­family, my mission is to try hard to put all my effort towards breaking the chain and building a happy family unit for me, my son and my partner. We’re far from perfect however, we have ­fall-outs and tantrums as much as any other family. Who doesn’t?

On Father’s Day, I wanted to do something really special for my partner, so we booked in to Galvin Brasserie de Luxe on Rutland Street. My plan was for us all to have a relaxing lunch then a play at the park in Princes Street Gardens, enjoying some good family time together. My partner had one request for our son: “Please no fall-outs, let’s all have a lovely day, that’s all I want.” We told him he had to be really well behaved.

The lunch was out of this world and it was lovely to see lots of families in with children. I’m pleased to report that our son ate his fish and chips whilst sitting impeccably. He knows there’s always a good dessert on offer as a reward for being well behaved. He wasn’t disappointed with banana ice-cream whilst sharing my mango sundae, which were both demolished in minutes! I watched my son hug and wish my partner happy Father’s Day, which left me feeling very proud.

I know families aren’t always happy but I’m riding the learning curve, doing my best and that’s the least we owe our children – our best! Also I’m being well behaved so I get taken out for a fancy lunch on Mother’s Day, wink, wink! So here’s to doing our best for our kids and familes. Stay happy and avoiding the toxic.