When discussing Black families the theme that often comes up is separation. A lot has been done to break apart the family unit in the African American community and the results are obvious and widespread. What is less often discussed is the choosing and creation of a family unit, and how it both fortifies and redefines what it means to be a family.
37 year old Darius Simon, first met his wife, Ashley Gains in high school at Klein Forrest, then reconnected years later through Facebook. Having each already been married with kids and now living as single parents, the couple took their time before making anything official.
Even after deciding to marry, the couple took a full year to announce the news to their families.
“We didn’t tell the kids, our family, nobody knew.”
They had been hesitant due to the failings of their previous marriage, but after testing the waters and becoming confident in their union, they surprised their families with the news of their wedding on their one year anniversary.
Gains has a 16 year old daughter, Ashlyn, from a previous marriage and Simon has an eight year old daughter, Daisia, from his previous wife. Each being the sole child in their single parent households, they were excited about the new editions to their families. Today they get along like sisters. Ashlyn, even helps Daisia, Simon’s only daughter with her homework and reading.
When it comes to parenting, Simon and Gains admit that their styles are different. Gains was raised in a single parent household, while Simon was raised by both parents. Initially it was a challenge, but they have learned to let their differences balance them out.
Unlike many, the family has been doing well during the COVID pandemic. Avid travelers, they were in Mexico when the travel ban was first announced, and the city was put on lockdown shortly after they returned home. They were forced to cancel a family trip to Europe because of the pandemic, but the quarantine has brought them closer than ever.
The family now has to have all of their fun at home, where they have movie nights and cook together several times a week.
“With me and Darius, this is probably the closest we have ever been. We spend a lot of time together. We all get along.” Says Gains.
Simon and Gains suggest that there are many advantages to having a combined family. Having been through the process of getting married and having children so that you know what to expect, as well as being older and more mature coming into the relationship, makes it easier to find ways to make it work. Above all else, the thing that drives them forward is communication and effort.
In celebrating the black family it is important that we celebrate unity in all forms, whether traditional and none traditional, so that we see a true reflection of ourselves. Stories like this remind us that oftentimes we are forced to take an unintended route to reach our goals, and success doesn’t always come in the form we expect.
Written by: Brooke Demars