In 2013, I made my directorial debut directing the musical South Pacific at The University of Great Falls (Now University of Providence). On the evening of the final performance, my mom, sisters, brother-in-law, and my sister’s fiance all arrived in town from a long road trip to watch the show. I had reserved the entire third row for them.
I was loitering in the lobby waiting for my family to arrive and for the show to start. I think I’d just received a text that they had parked. Suddenly, my sister Cory was at the door, but no one else. She and I walked to the ladies’ room and she told me.
“I just wanted to let you know, I’m pregnant!”
I was so thrilled I almost cried. I later found out that they had made trips to tell their families in person. I was one of the hardest to visit, so I was almost the last to know, but I didn’t care. Being an aunt is a lifelong dream.
Less or Free
I will probably never have children. I hesitate sometimes to tell people that I have never wanted children. It makes some people so incredibly uncomfortable to imagine that I feel that way. So, about half the time people say something like, “You never know!” and “You might change your mind.”
And there’s a word for how I feel: child-free, as opposed to childless. I’ve decided I don’t like either word. Child-free is meant to indicate that I do not feel a lack in my life, the way that “childless” might imply. However, it sounds like I think children are a bad thing to have, like “cancer-free” or “disease free.”
So, I say that I don’t have children. Or I say that I’m not a mother. And, sometimes, I risk making people uncomfortable by saying that I also don’t want to be a mother.
My joy at my sisters having kids is deep and profound. I am excited every single time they tell me their are expecting (six times now!)
The thing is, I have always doubted my ability to be a mother. Or maybe just my ability to enjoy being a mother. But I have always known I would make an amazing aunt and have a blast with nieces and nephews.
Aunts are the Coolest
It was neat to me to have grown ups besides my parents who loved and understood me.
Aunt Ann and Aunt Alyce are my dad’s youngest sisters, and I think they are within ten years of my age. I tend to think of them as a pair, probably because when I was little, they still lived at home and I would see them when I’d see my paternal grandparents. Ann has four kids now, and Alyce has two. Alyce lived in DC while I was living in New York, and I rode the bus down from the city to visit her one Easter weekend. She would come up and visit me sometimes, too.
My dad’s other sister is Lola. I look kind of like her. She is a pianist and has four boys. I remember her always treating m like I was so smart and grown up.
That’s how Sue, my mom’s sister, treated me, too. I suppose she still treats me that way, but it’s kind of a given now that I’m in my (gasp!) mid-thirties. Sue is an artist and an art teacher. When I was little, she pointed out that I was advanced in my thinking regarding how I drew things. Like, at she five I drew a face in profile with an eye shaped how it looks from the side. She and my mom thought I’d grow up to be an artist.
And I sort of thought so, too. And I am an artist, but not in visual arts.
Cory’s first baby–I’ll call her Ems–loves to dance and has her own YouTube show.
Then Anna had Co-Boy who is the best athlete I’ve ever met.
Cory had Cal, who calls everyone Cookie Dough and loves puppies.
And Anna had Co-Girl, who shares my middle name.
Then Cory had Winne, who smiles easily, but otherwise looks like she’s just a little concerned, like she’s studying life for a quiz later. And I guess she is.
And now Anna is expecting another baby. Six nieces and nephews.
Being an aunt is really important to me, and my relationships with my sisters’ families are significant. Aunt Sarah is part of how I define myself.
Even though I’m not likely to ever be a mother, I have happened into being around kids a lot. I’ve taught kids since I was 18. But I also think it’s okay for women to not be maternal at all. More on that in another post.
Tell me about your favorite aunt.