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First baby is coming: When sisters blossom into aunts

My two sisters are — and have always been — my closest allies.
Family works like that, if you’re lucky, and I count myself among the luckiest.
OK, our parents split early in our childhoods and there were some years in there that weren’t all awesome in terms of the “perfect family” ranking, but my sisters and I came out of it stronger, together.
We’re close in age; my younger sister, Elsie, was born almost exactly three years after my older sister, Polly — and I was smack dab in between.
We’re close in other ways too. We are each athletes, each went to small liberal art colleges, each have traveled around the world, each get mistaken for the others even by people who think they know us well, and yes, we’ve each returned to Vermont to join the family news organization.
Over the course of the last few years, we each got married (in case you were wondering, we all married Scorpios). We are each buying, renovating and/or building houses.
We each have unique styles and ways of life, but watching my sisters mature and age feels more like witnessing what could have been a different version of my life (had I made slightly different choices along the way), than it does witnessing the same processes in other friends or people around me.
In February of this year, Polly announced to the family that she was expecting a baby in the fall.
Starting a unfamiliar and somewhat strange pattern, Elsie and I began struggling to relate to what Polly was going through. We’ve watched as her body stretches into shapes none of us have seen before in the mirror and talked through the things you only learn when you face this chapter in life.
Not a mother myself, I have come to terms with not being able to offer any first hand advice or share in my own experiences, which is challenging for someone who comforts through empathy. But as openness and trust in a relationship allows, we have found new ways to connect and old ways that still work to support each other.
As the eldest, Polly has forged new paths before and is now into the final trimester before she brings my niece into the world.
I cannot wait to be an aunt!
My own aunts are some of my favorite people and the role of an aunt is one of the coolest out there — particularly for a girl. I can imagine teaching my niece about flowers in my garden and helping her learn how to swim and ride a bike. I try to imagine what my nickname will become, as she struggles with the “Ch” at the start of my name; (I’m thinking it will come our something more similar to “Kissy,” which I suppose I can live with). I imagine watching Polly and Jason carrying her home from the hospital, eager with anticipation for this fundamentally new chapter in their lives.
But it’s hard to imagine how this baby (and any more to come) will change my relationship with my sisters.
Inevitably, kids will fill our lives and occupy some of the time that we used to spend with each other. Surely our parenting styles will differ in ways that we will probably struggle at times to understand. The term “family” that has for our whole lives included each other in the inner-most circle will suddenly change, as our “nuclear” families expand from the center and shift each other to the “extended” family ring.
But with 30-plus years of experiencing change together, I have faith that aunthood will be just as good a chapter as the rest with my sisters. I have to believe that we’ll continue to lean on and learn from each other and that our children will do the same.
Because by the looks of Polly’s rotund midriff, this baby’s coming anyway.

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