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Becoming an aunt.

It’s a little overwhelming to even sit down to write, tonight.  It’s been so long since I put pen to paper — or rather, fingers to keyboard — for anyone to read, as opposed to the pages of my trusty journal, that it’s a bit daunting to even decide where to begin.  So I’ll just start right here.

There’s an eerie breeze through the leaves of the cherry tree in the backyard that sounds like a storm coming.  We’re having unseasonably warm temperatures in Seattle, and even though it’s past sunset and the chill of the impending fall is unmistakable when you step outside, the inside of the house is still sun-warmed from earlier.  Gibson’s nearly a dog now — I can barely call her a puppy, anymore, as her first birthday-ish (since we have no way to know the precise date) approaches.  Where a few months ago she’d be ceaselessly asking for my attention (or getting into mischief) if I had the audacity to sit down to write a blog post, tonight she’s happily laying by my feet, chewing on a bone, her ears alert like she’s listening for something but her eyes relaxed in the sort of trance that she finds when she chews.  She has a good life here, and she’s growing into a really wonderful dog.

And aside from that, I’m adjusting to my routine of nine to five-ish, in an old fashioned high-rise in downtown Seattle.  I like the days I ride the bus — it reminds me of back when I used to ride a motorcycle everywhere and I was intimately in touch with the changing seasons at all times.  I like peoplewatching, and having time to read, or taking time to just stare out the window at other people driving to work.  And I like the building I go to with its gilded features and elevator operators who dispense wisdom like fortunes, and the people I work with there.  It’s an oddly good fit for me — a mentor once told me that I might be unemployable, and I think he might be wrong.  I’ve got plenty to learn there, but I’ve found a place again where there are people I know I can learn from — I’d say, a “rare” place, but somehow it seems to be getting less rare.  Everywhere I go, I find myself observing what I can learn from the people I encounter.  Sometimes the teacher, now, sometimes the student.

Megan, on her first full day of motherhood.
Megan, on her first full day of motherhood.

The biggest shift in my world started happening on June 30th, when my sister’s twins decided to make their entry into the world.  My eyes are welling up just thinking about what to even say about it — I’d say something in me shifted when I met those babies for the first time, but really, the earthquake hasn’t stopped.  I’ve never been terribly attached to a particular identity… I’ve tried on a few, for size, and they haven’t stuck — or at least, haven’t stuck exclusively.  I’m still part-lawyer (although, presently unlicensed, and finding myself putting time, money and energy into learning how to shoot film photography instead of signing up for the continuing legal education I need to complete to reinstate my license … perhaps, I’ll get my priorities in order after this photography class).  I’m still part-climber, recreationally, relaxedly, without the kind of all-consuming drive that guided me, for a few years, there.  I’m no longer anyone’s wife — that one didn’t stick, the first time around.  And there are plenty of other identities I’ve just not yet had the opportunity to try on, or not been driven to seek out.

But “aunt…”

that one I was pretty stoked to try on for size.

The rhythm of auntiness didn’t come immediately — I felt nervous and awkward the first time I held those fragile-seeming little people; I soaked up everything I could from listening in on the nurses while they coached Megan and Aaron through the twins’ first days, and even so, required a Diapering 101 lesson before babysitting for the first time.  And then there are the things that you only learn by doing:  the right rhythm to bounce each baby (since they have different preferences); how to heat up a bottle while holding a crying baby (someday, someone, is going to make a bottle system that you can operate from start to finish with one hand).  There’s developing your spidey sense for knowing when to give space and when to show up with a skillet full of dinner to leave on the porch. There’s a newfound comfort in engaging with other people’s kids… to a certain degree, I think, you have to just shake off your self-consciousness and be silly — whether it’s singing silly songs to soothe a crying kiddo, or making funny faces to try to head off a meltdown, or turning the baby bounce into dance steps (my balboa experience is coming in quite handy — Meg’s baby girl seems to like that one a lot).

There’s the satisfaction of Megan and I simultaneously soothing fussy babes in a breakfast restaurant, with them both falling asleep just in time for us to eat most of our breakfast with both of our hands.  There’s the watching Megan and her husband in awe of their ability to do this — anyone will tell you that having twins is not easy.  And seeing it all up close:  whoa.  “They’ve got their hands full” has a whole new meaning.  And again, I find myself observing and learning and am just infinitely grateful that those two made ME an auntie.

And inevitably, after I gush about my latest adventure in auntie-ness, whoever’s listening asks, “So are you catching the baby bug,” as in, “are you going to hurry up and get on that program, Sara?” and I try hard to answer politely, even though I think that questions about peoples’ plans with regard to childbearing should be left to only the closest of friends and family who know all of the intimate details about just why and where a person is on the kids spectrum, and know the nature of the worms in the can before they open it.  And I remind myself that I’m only 36 (although, to be fair, 37 is approaching like a freight train) and have abundant time to make those decisions thoughtfully, in time.  And then I come back to the present, where I’m totally in love with this new role of aunt.

I have a whole new appreciation for the fierce, and dedicated love I’ve felt from my aunts for my whole life… I’ve always felt so incredibly lucky for the love and care of this amazing pack of women, and now… whoa.  WHOA.  Am I ever grateful to have learned auntiehood from the absolute best.

So that’s where I’ve been.  Becoming an auntie.  And loving it.