The Mom Stop: Aunt, the role of a lifetime
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for a new man in my life.
He’s a little bald, with tufts of fine, light brown hair crowning around the sides of his head; his round cheeks frame the most perfect lips. He’s got long, slender fingers and honestly, really big feet — although he’s come by its naturally. It’s in his genes.
I’ve only held him in my arms for a few minutes, and yet I love him so already — he’s my 2-week old nephew.
I’ve been an aunt for more than a decade, a role I gained when my husband and I got married. My sister had a baby girl in 2011, only nine weeks after I had my son. Going through pregnancy together with my younger sister was an experience I cherish because it brought us closer.
It was during those months of pregnancy and the months following childbirth that our relationship morphed from a competitive sisterhood marred by years of petty childhood arguments to a deep friendship. Together we went through morning sickness and swollen feet.
We talked of breastfeeding and maternity leave; She was someone I could commiserate with over the sleepless nights and teething, someone I could celebrate with as our babies said their first words or took their first steps; As our kids started preschool or had their first day of kindergarten, I’ve known I’m not alone as a mom, because my sister is going through it, too. I’ve cherished the fact that our two 6-year-olds are more like twins than they are cousins.
But there is a double-edged sword — I haven’t had time to relish in my role as an aunt.
When my niece was born, I was still in that hazy, exhausted post-partum stage with a nine-week old son and a 2-year-old daughter in tow. I was too busy chasing after a toddler and taking care of my own newborn to really soak up time with my new little niece, who lived three hours away at the time. And that’s something I regret. While I love her dearly and I’m so glad she’s close in age to my kids, I wish I had had more time with her when she was a baby.
And so, I’m hoping things will be different this time, now that my own children are a little older and now that my sister only lives an hour away.
My two oldest kids have been looking forward — partly with amazement — to a new little cousin. My son, who is surrounded by sisters and girl cousins, is ecstatic that there is now another boy. He already plans to teach his cousin karate and pass down his Nerf guns one day. My oldest daughter, now 8, says she wants to teach her baby cousin to look for the good in people and how to be kind. My youngest, who is 2, just calls her new cousin her “buddy.”
As we piled into my sister’s hospital room on Nov. 5, my kids surrounded the little boy bundle, who was wrapped tightly like a burrito. My 8-year-old covered her mouth with her hands as she gasped and said “OH MY GOSH.” My son asked immediately if he could hold him. And my 2-year-old started to sing “Happy Birthday” as she reached with him with her own little hands, which are becoming not so baby-like anymore.
It was then that my nephew opened his eyes, with all our eyes on him. Happy birthday, indeed. Welcome to the world, little one.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at email@example.com.