Hiya. My name is Jesse Toksvig-Stewart and I come from a very unique family. At the head my family are two wonderfully brilliant and beautiful, matriarchal mothers. I have grown up with two mum’s my whole life and never really felt massively different. You wouldn’t, would you? You grow up knowing your family is your family. It was only when people pointed it out to me that I remembered that I was not really the same as everyone else.
My parents split a long time ago. This change has added a new partner for one of my parents and a stepsister to our ever-growing family. The idea for the book, however, came from the youngest and newest member of our family. My other mum is a foster carer. After a couple of years in to her job, a special baby came into her care. The whole family fell instantly in love with this little girl and we soon realised that there was no way that we could let her go.
My mum was adopting a baby.
On her first birthday I found myself looking through my own baby record book. Flicking through the pages and giggling at what my parents had written about me, and the funny stories they had documented. What struck me was how heterosexual the baby book was. In place of Mummy and Daddy’s memories, my parents had to cross out Daddy and put Mama. This kept happening throughout the book. For one it made it look messy, but also there is something about crossing out a title and putting another one that makes you feel slightly inadequate.
I then started to think how my little sister was going to feel going through her own baby book. How many names and details were we going to have to cross out? In actual fact, we could not buy her a record book because all of the baby journals were written for a Mummy, a Daddy and a new baby. The nuclear family. So nuclear, that in some of the journals they even had sections on “What my Mummy and Daddy did before I was born…” and “What my Mummy felt when I was in her tummy”. They were headings that not even we could cross out. They were so specific to babies in mummies tummies.
The fact is that our family didn’t fit any baby record book.
But we are not alone! My mum had friends from adoption circles that had the same problem. Some of them were adopting children as single carers so there was no Daddy. Some of them were same-sex couples had the same problem that my parents had 26 years ago. They too had to cross out Daddies name.
I decided then and there that I had heard too many similar stories. I was going to make a record book for any parent and one that was for children of all ages and for all types of families. There would also be no one crossing out any of the headings! Once I had this idea in my mind I could only think of one person in the world to help me to do it. That was my friend Kat.
Hi, I'm Kat Willott. In contrast I've had a very conventional upbringing. I have grown up with my Mum, my Dad and three sisters in High Wycombe in the same house that they live in now. On paper just your 'normal' family. I am, however, a twin. When you tell people they almost certainly react with awe and intrigue. In some circles I feel like I have something a little bit different compared to others.
When Jesse came to me with the idea for the book it appealed to me straight away. Although we both have had very different upbringings we both saw the need for a record book like this. A book that includes all families. I met Jesse at university on a Film and Television Production course. If you had looked around a lecture hall back then you would have seen me doodling away in my own world, with some poor lecturers seminar on the Auteur Theory falling on deaf ears.
I have always loved to draw. My obsession grew while at university where I learned to animate my doodles and set myself a challenge where I had to draw a picture every day for a year. Having the opportunity to illustrate cute cartoon animals and for a project that I actually believed in was a dream come true. When Jesse approached me with the idea it was a great chance to get involved and turn my doodles from a simple hobby into drawings that I hope you will all enjoy.