When I talk to anyone about my nephew I know my eyes sparkle. I imagine I sound like a teenage girl mooning over her pop star crush — he’s SO funny! He’s SO clever! Ohmygoodness, he did this thing the other day that was SO hilarious! <Insert dreamy sigh> He’s just amazing….. And he is really is. I can provide documented evidence of how Noah is possibly a MENSA-level genius and already displaying the comedic ability of a young Ben Stiller. And that’s before we get to the fact that he’s the Cutest Kid in the Universe.
I know I am biased when it comes to my nephew. I know that all of us who love little ones are biased — it’s part of the deal. We see the magic in them through the lens of our unconditional love. I have moments when I look at Noah and have actual physical aching in my chest. Having the privilege of watching him growing up — and, even better, being an active part of his world — is the greatest gift I have ever been given. It’s been the absolute making of me — I can’t really remember my life before him. It all feels so grey in comparison (okay, so biased aunties also tend to be a bit melodramatic).
Whenever I am with Noah I am 100% present. We play, we dress up, I wipe his bum, we jump on the bed. I do my best to help his mum out and try to be the most hands-on auntie I can be. I’m too busy dealing with my exploding heart to think about my own stuff. But when I get home, back to my quiet life in the city, I feel it hard. Mostly it’s me missing Noah, but woven through is a little ache that’s been growing lately. Knowing this great love I have for my nephew, who feels like a part of me in the way my sister does, I wonder what it would be like to have a child of my own. Created with love and born from my body. To be a mama, with all the sleepless selfless responsibility that involves.
While no one has actually said this to my face, I know there is this crazy idea out in the world that unless you have children of your own you don’t really know what selfless love is. Or maybe it’s unless you’re a mother you don’t know what real love is. Or is it that women who choose not to have children are selfish? Whatever it is, it makes me feel like shit and it’s patently untrue, as any auntie, uncle, grandparent, godparent and carer can attest. I didn’t do the feeds in the middle of the night and I know I don’t carry the responsibility that my sister and brother-in-law do (though I carry the worry with them 100%), but I love Noah as if he were my own child. It feels bigger than just “family” — I feel like I am his second mummy. I don’t know how else to explain it.
I’m at this very delicate point in my life where I have to face the fact that my fertility is declining and the likelihood of me having a family of my own is becoming remote. This was brought home to me last week as I sat in the office of the doctor who’ll be surgically removing my fibroids. He mentioned my age three times in our 20-minute appointment. It was unpleasantly sobering.
I honestly don’t know what the next few years will bring for me romantically or reproductively. There is still the possibility of my own child, and yes I know adoption is an option — the sperm donor route, however, is not for me — and perhaps my future beloved will have children of his own I will grow to love. But just as I wish to find the best most brilliant uncle for Noah, I still hope to make a cousin for him. And typing that makes my eyes prickle with tears, so I know that is the absolute truth.
I don’t have a neat ending for this post. It is what it is. This is my life, my right now, and just as I know circumstances can change in the (missing) beat of a heart, I also trust that this is the path I am supposed to be walking. It’s not comfortable but it is real.
Noah turned four earlier this month and asked for a Frozen party, so we all pulled together and made it happen. It was MEGA.
And bowling for the first time the day before:
[my artsy period circa 2007]
I’ve been blogging for eight years as of yesterday. Eight YEARS! It was a couple of months after my 33rd birthday, one month after the first anniversary of his death. It felt like such a daring thing to do (still does sometimes) but I knew I wanted to join in with the few friends I’d made online. I wanted to write stuff on the internet, too! I didn’t know if I’d have anything to say. I didn’t know if I’d keep at it. I only had a film camera so didn’t know how I’d share photographs. I worried that people would find out who I was so I never revealed my surname. I didn’t tell my mum I had a blog for the first three years. If I’d been able to articulate what I was searching for back then it I probably would have said I wanted to be seen. Not in a showy me-me-me way — rather, I was very carefully shedding the layers of invisibility my grief had wrapped me in. Starting a blog, even if no one read it, was my way of stepping out of my cocoon. It was my first public declaration of healing.
And it completely changed my life.
I don’t know how or why the universe guided me to find that first blog in 2006. Or why I left that first comment. Or how it was I found the courage to write that first post of my own. But it did, and I did, and now I am here. And it hasn’t exactly been a straight line from there to here, but this blog, in all its various incarnations, has been my constant companion. So while it may only be some words and pictures floating around on the internet, this space has come to mean everything to me. A virtual through-line that’s brought community. Friendships. Purpose. Direction. I’ve found all of this and so much more.
Thank you for being here. I’ve no doubt that I’d still be writing even if not a single soul passed by, but I gotta be honest — it’s more fun when we hang out together :)
The space that started it all (though, sadly, not the first post — this is probably the 10th):