Vi er glade for at kunne præsentere vores anden journal med en storhjertet og åbensindet kvinde, Marisa Birger Christensen. Kommer fra en dansk familie med stærke traditioner og bor nu i London og opdrager et – snart to – børn med rødder i Danmark, England og Barbados.
Fotograf: Alona Vibe
Styling: Trine Frølich
Interview: Laura Lawaetz
En historie om at være nysgerrig på livet, opdrage multikulturbørn og give vigtige værdier videre - i generationer fremover.
“I have always been very close to my family. My parents divorced seven years ago and both my Mum and Dad have new partners now - and both have kids from their previous marriages too. Their doors are always open and we all spend a lot of time together. I see it as a blessing having a big family now.
As a family you can forget to talk but going through a divorce and having kids has brought my brother and me closer together. I think we now make an effort to stay even closer and it is extremely important for me to be part of my niece's and nephew's lives."
When we visit Marisa she is staying in her father's and girlfriend's seaside house North of Copenhagen where she lived as a teenager with her mum and dad.
This house has a special sense of ‘hygge’ and love, this is the place I call home. We recently celebrated Madison’s second year birthday here with both my parents, their boyfriend and girlfriend, their kids, my brother and his family as well. It means a lot to me that this is possible. Kids definitely have a special way of bringing a family closer together."
The family history is important to Marisa and her family, something that instantly feel when we enter their home. There is a beautiful mix of designer furniture and family treasures. A portrait of her grandmother painted by Vilhelm Lundstrøm has a central place in the dining room and so has furniture by her fathers uncle, Finn Juhl, next to a baby crib which has been in the family for generations waiting to be passed on.
“It is a family crib that my dad slept in when he was a kid. My brother and I slept in this crib and now my niece, nephew and my own daugther as well.
Despite divorce, additional family members and long distance relationships do not always have a happy ending, it is an important part of Marisa’s story and she is grateful for what she has and the values she was brought up with.
"My parent’s divorce has taught me that one chooses ones own family and that love and respect are the most important pillars in a family.
It has always been important to me, to find my own way. I joined the army when I was twenty. I had been studying for two years but wanted to try something different. I really learned a lot and I loved it. I then moved to Barcelona to finish my studies before moving to London six years ago.
Originally I came to London as a friend of mine was going and never planned to stay this long. Then I met Myles and love made me stay.
My parents have taught me to follow my heart. They have always made me feel loved and supported. They have inspired me to do what makes me happy, to be kind and respectful and to always be curious about what life has to offer. Values I want to pass on to my own kids."
"London has always felt like a second home to me. I was born in London, my parents lived here for twelwe years until I was three.
My dad sometimes jokes about being jealous about me living here. When my parents lived here, we had to move back as my dad had to take over the family business, Birger Christensen, in Denmark. He is the fifth generation and it was a given thing that he had to take over the business. He always gave me and my brother the choice. He never said we couldn’t work in the business, but have always encouraged us to choose whatever makes us happy in life.
Living in London with kids can be challenging. Madison was born during the first lockdown, and it was extremely difficult not having my own relatives close by. We did not visit Denmark until she was four months old. I want Madison and her little sister to have close bonds with her Danish, English and Bajan family, which is why we use Facetime a lot and talk to her about our family members every day. I also want to go to Barbados as often as possible to visit our family there."
Marisa was brought up in Denmark with her older brother and her boyfriend Myles has three younger siblings and they were brought up in London by their mother and grandmother.
"Myles’ Nan who lives in the UK but was born in Barbados, is the centre of the family bringing everyone together. She is always happy and smiling and it is important for her to be part of her grandchildren’s life.
Myles and his family have a calm, kind and fun way of looking at life. When we visited his family in Barbados I really loved their mentality. They enjoy life to the fullest, open their homes to anyone in need and cooks amazing food to make everyone feel welcome.”
With roots in Denmark, London and Barbados, Madison and her baby sister will be multi culture kids, something that Marisa reflects on.
"At opdrage blandet racerbørn er bestemt noget, jeg tænker på. Jeg vil gerne sikre mig, at vores piger ikke føler sig anderledes eller som om, de ikke hører til. At tale om race og racisme er noget, der vil være vigtigt for mig fra deres barndom.
Madisons vuggestue har en regnbuefarve af børn, og jeg kan godt lide, at hun ikke behøver at føle sig anderledes. London har flere kulturer, og det er ikke noget, der bekymrer Myles I Danmark er det ikke det samme, måske er det derfor, det er mere en bekymring for mig.
Jeg vil gerne opdrage mine børn til at være selvsikre og til at gøre deres bedste. Jeg stræber efter at skabe et hjem med kærlighed respekt og venlighed og tror på, at med dette in mente er det lige meget, hvor du bor, eller hvilken hudfarve du har."
At opdrage stærke og selvstændige piger, der frit kan vælge, hvad der gør dem glade i livet, er vigtigt for Marisa.
"Min mor har arbejdet hårdt det meste af sit liv, arbejdet for den danske ambassade i London og drevet sine egne virksomheder. Hun har altid været en stærk selvstændig kvinde og en rollemodel for mig, ligesom hun vil være for mine piger.
Jeg vil give vores piger frihed til at tilpasse sig, hvem de er som multikulturbørn. Deres oplevelse vil være anderledes end min egen og Myles' barndom.
Når de er gamle nok, skal de føle sig frie til selv at udforske deres kulturer og bestemme, hvilke dele de identificerer sig med."
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