My nephew arrived in the wee hours of this past Sunday morning. Easter Sunday, actually. Which prompted a whole conversation with my mother – prior to writing this post – about whether or not she had ever actually convinced my brother that babies came from the Easter Bunny. [final verdict: she doesn’t think she did, but she writes a clever Facebook status, no?]
And while I sat here, stumped by the fact that my planned opening had predicated on my mother’s joke on Facebook not having actually been a joke … I thought about if I had ever asked her the question: “where do babies come from?” I don’t know if I did. I must have. Because I remember getting the G-rated and religiously underpinned explanation that involved some vague biology. I might not have gotten the intricacies, but I got the overall concept.
So, if I’ve figured out where they come from, how do I figure out what to do once they’re here?
I’m not the one having kids now, so maybe it’s not a question I need to worry about.
I think maybe it is. One special little girl changed my world a few years ago when she showed up. Her drawings hang on my fridge, and her picture is on my desk at work. Her hugs and her genuine joy when Aunty Bethy comes to visit make me so incredibly happy. I held my newborn nephew Sunday afternoon and knew this one had his hooks in me too. There’s another nephew on his way, and I can’t wait.
Being an aunt is a pretty special role. It’s equal parts being cool, being a mentor, and being a confidante. I should know. I’ve had some good examples. Two of my great-aunts stepped up to the plate when my paternal grandmother passed away. They were the ones who came to Grandparents’ Day and babysit the Rein kids in the summer. They’re the reason I’m so good at cards. [My maternal grandparents were still around, but lived in New Jersey … so, they weren’t often able to make a lot of those everyday things].
And, my Aunt G. She’s always been the kind of aunt I wanted to be. She was fun, and patient, and hip. When she babysat us, we got pizza. And, on one memorable occasion: Klondike Bars, a la mode. [I may have been what they refer to as a “precocious child” …. “a la mode” was a newly learned word. I liked putting my new vocabulary words into action. 🙂 ]
But lest you think we liked her because she spoiled us … it wasn’t about that. She was still in charge, and we knew it. She made me feel special, and like she was in my corner. Actually, she still makes me feel that way. I know I can talk to her, and she’ll be there to listen.
I want that for my niece and nephews. For them to find me cool and fun and in their corner. For them to know they’ve got one more person who loves ’em, and would move heaven and earth if they needed me to. I want to teach my niece how to change a flat tire and how to walk in high heels. I want to teach my nephews how to listen and how to play baseball. Actually, I want to teach ’em all how to play baseball.
I’m sure that I’ll worry. And that sometimes, I’ll be so proud, I could cry. And on occasion, I may get us both into trouble for being an “instigator” and not a “parent.” But mostly, I’m going to be there.
So maybe, this is what you do with babies when they arrive: be a part of the life they are going to make. It’s a pretty wonderful thing.