So much has happened since August. I “left” my job, we got the official word on the Hawaii transfer, it’s just busy. I’m doing a bunch of freelance work and Tom is in a tizzy about getting his orders. So, to distract from the busy-busy-busy, I’m off to Maine this weekend. My darling sister is having a baby boy this January (or in early February if he’s tardy) named Owen Joseph. And so, the following:
Letter From an Absentee Auntie
As of this writing, you have caused your mother (my sister) to lose 15 pounds from morning sickness and then gain God knows how much in fetus. Whatever else happens to you in your life, I want you to know that your mommy has never complained, or even so much as grimaced, at the discomfort of pregnancy. She’s a good lady and you best treat her respectfully. However, this does not stop me from enjoying the well-placed rib kicks you are delivering to her at 2am. Way to go, kiddo. That totally makes up for the time she whacked me upside the head with a baseball bat.
It pains me to know that you won’t know me, or have the same upbringing that we had. You have a cadre of wonderful uncles on your father’s side, and my husband is determined to have fun with you. But as of this writing, I am the only auntie you have. Your mother and I grew up surrounded by family, weaving in and out of our cousins’ lives and taken in by our parents’ siblings like we were their own children. Our aunts doubled as second mothers, some strict, some confidantes. Because of our move to Hawaii, I am very sad that we won’t have the same chance to know each other. As adults, we may grow close, but in children, it is familiarity that breeds closeness. So for as much as I have–and will continue to–care about you, you will not know who I am aside from references your parents make and the occasional visit. So in the future, please excuse my repeated attempts to buy your love and know that I won’t hold it against you if you don’t write thank you notes. Use the birthday money to buy candy or a trashy video game. It’s okay, Auntie says so.
Anyway, here is my attempt to bond. Because women are programmed to love tiny clothing, I have already purchased you the start of a small wardrobe. Please indulge me for a moment while I complain–why, exactly, do they make cargo pants in size 3-6 months? The cargo pocket is about 2″ x 2″, which is not handy for carrying anything but the following: a book of matches, a wad of singles, or a lone condom. It’s the makings of a good night out, for sure, but I sense you are a wee bit young for the party scene. I’m happy to take you out on your 21st birthday, but I’m not going to send you out with a condom pocket before you learn to walk. You have uncle Brian for that.
At your first sonogram, which is when your Mama and Daddy learned you’d be an Owen instead of some chick named Morgan, they played country music at the doctor’s office. Erika tells me that you “wiggled” along with the music. Now, I’m told that a fetus can’t actually hear sounds outside the womb until much later along in pregnancy, but since you’re my nephew I choose to believe you are extra advanced. Erika claims that this “dancing” to country music is a trait inherited from your auntie, who is your only blood relation to enjoy the musical genre. Kid, I can work this to your advantage. When you learn to talk, I’ll teach you all the lyrics to Alan Jackson’s “Chattahootchie.” You sing it to the adults, and while you distract them I’ll sneak you Fig Newton cookie bars out of Great-Grammy’s cookie jar. That’s what aunties do, kid–help you break Mama’s rules.
Right now, I am planning to move to Portland to assist your mama after you make your debut. In the grand scheme of events, it is probably good that you won’t remember this time–fumbling adults trying to figure out which part of the onesie to put your head through, accidentally taping your leg to the diaper adhesive, cold wipes on your fanny and well-meaning strangers poking your Buddha belly and fat cheeks. (I’m assuming you’ll be a portly baby, we grow ‘em big in our family.) You won’t remember the nights Mama stayed up to take care of you, or the nights that Daddy worked late to buy you a new toy. You definitely won’t remember the tall blonde stranger who lived with you in the first few weeks, trying to figure out which end to insert the pacifier in.
But I hope a part of you remembers how much your auntie already loves you, and how much your Mama and Daddy grew to take you into their family. I know you won’t–such is the curse of the child/parent relationship–but a part of me thinks you will. You are pretty advanced, after all.
Now, come on. I have three verses of Garth Brooks’ “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places” to teach you and then we can steal some cookies.