Remember for a moment back to a time when you were maybe 5 or 6 years old…it’s late at night and as a special treat you are allowed to stay up way past your bedtime to be with the grown-ups. Perhaps you are riding home in the backseat of your station wagon, perhaps you are curled up in the corner of a couch, but wherever you are, you are half asleep. You know that fragile place between sleep and awake? Waves of sound are swirling around you…laughter, a random cough, or clearing of one’s throat. You can barely make out what the grown-ups are talking about, but you look forward to one day being old enough to join in.
You are 5 or 6 years old, you are falling asleep, and you know with complete certainty that someone is going to carry your tired little body to bed, tuck you in, and kiss your forehead.
Are you with me?
You. Are. Safe.
You. Are. Loved.
I had the upmost privilege of going back there last night, back to that place of being carried by people who love me. I felt secure. I felt an intense sense of belonging and harmony with my family and I soaked up every minute of it, because I think it is going to have to last me a long time. I barely know where to begin here with this post.
My childhood had many different dynamics. There are aspects of it that were wonderful. I have an extremely, fiercely loving family in every way. We stuck together through thick and thin. For that I will always be grateful. But on the other hand, a lot of crap went down while I was little, and I was forced to grow up quicker than some of my friends. My family is complicated. There are many, many members. Some I have never met, some are my best friends, some are my heros. Some have let me down. Some have raised me up. I love them all.
Things are a bit complicated at the moment. Complicated and yet…normal. Because when you have a family as big as mine there is bound to be some drama. But let’s not talk about that now.
I have 11 paternal aunts. That’s a lot. I wish I could say that I have a bond with all of them, but that would just not be true. I love them all, but that’s not the same thing as knowing them. I don’t want to use the word ‘favourite‘, so I will go down a different road and say that the aunt I am closest to came here this past week for 8 whole days. It felt like a lifetime and it felt like a nanosecond all at the same time. We had an a.m.a.z.i.n.g time together.
I’m at an interesting place in my life right now, stuck between the family I was born into and the family that I will one day give birth to. I am stuck between being a child and being a mother. And honestly? It is something I am struggling with. It’s not easy to work in a job where I am constantly having the one thing I want most in this world rubbed in my face…teaching those kids is like being on a super strict diet and working at Cold Stone Creamery. I want kids. Badly. But as Auntie M and I were walking along the beach last night, she reminded me of how important it is to be really present in this moment. Cliche, yes, but so true. For now, and who knows for how long, I am here. I am a child. I am someone’s daughter and sister and niece and aunt and that’s enough. The wife and mother thing will come too, but later. And so I basked in my role last night as a middle child, as Tina’s aunt, as Auntie M’s niece, as my mother’s daughter, as a sister to my siblings…I just rested in who I am.
It was like being 5 or 6 years old and falling asleep knowing someone would carry me to my bed…
As we were loitering in the foyer of my parents house as midnight approached we were all so very reluctant to say goodbye to each other. My head was down on the arm of the couch and Auntie M rubbed my back and my sister played with my hair. I could hear my mom’s voice and I could sense that I was safe. It was an aha moment for me.
Auntie M says that even though she likes my tattoo, she thinks it is sad that I thought I had to write love on my body to know that I am loved…but that’s okay. Everyone needs a reminder now and again, right? And it turns out I wasn’t the only one who needed that. My older sister Marcy and my younger brother Nick got love on their arms yesterday, too. And it is so cool that the three of us now match. Well, besides that whole DNA thing.
This past week I cried a few times because plans I made with some friends fell through…the weather was so beautiful on the weekend that people wanted to be with their families to enjoy it. And I totally get that. But I cried because I often simply forget that I, too, have that family. I don’t need to cry. I guess living alone in a basement apartment can take its toll on me sometimes. I feel alone when I shouldn’t. But as hard as it was to feel left out and left behind when my friends changed their plans, it was good for me. This next phase in the healing process is looking like it’s going to be working on acceptance. And so far it’s been really hard. So Auntie M’s timing couldn’t have been better. When my family got together last night (minus my oldest niece—we miss you Jenna!), I made sure I soaked in all the love imaginable. It’s my strength in the times ahead.
Auntie M making sure BC doesn’t forget…
Fun at the beach
It’s in the smile of a stranger
In the eyes of a child
On the corner of a crowded street
It’s everywhere around us
It’s always growing wild
Love is a sweet, sweet thing
I hate goodbyes very much. Always struggled with that word. Leaving Africa and all my friends was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Saying goodbye to Brian was worse than that. But even though Auntie M lives in Winnipeg, even though my brother and sister and I are spread apart, and even though I live 45 minutes away from Mom and Gramma, the beauty about family is that there are never any goodbyes. Ever. It’s just the way it goes. And that makes my heart happy.