Monday, July 23, 2007
The Next Generation
I am officially part of the next generation. I remember the first time this kind of realization happened---I was seven years old, the youngest in my generation, and my younger sister was born. I was no longer the baby.
I was in this place for a long time---the second-oldest of the youngest generation. My older sister Shelley and I were almost like the almost-aunts of our generation. My younger brother and sister and cousins were all much younger than us. But still, we were at the bottom of the totem pole, generation-wise.
The next time it happened was when Shelley had her son, more than ten years ago. My nephew began the next family level. In some ways, it was almost as shocking, generation-wise, as becoming a mother, myself, three years later. Shelley and I are truly aunties. We are the Aunt Janets and Aunt Julies and Aunt Janes of our generation. But I have gotten used to this position. We're young mothers, we have our kids, the cousins play, and things are good.
This weekend, however, I realize that I am graduating to the next generation. My niece---Nicholas' brother's daughter---is pregnant with twins. She's young, just 20. (She was a flower girl at our wedding!) I will be a great-aunt before the summer is over.
Rhiannon's baby shower was this weekend. The gathering was an interesting cross-section of grandmothers and great- (soon to be great-great!) aunts, and young girls, Rhiannon's friends. One of her friends brought her six-month-old son. And I so wanted to identify with the younger generation. It's how I see myself, after all. I'm not in the generation of children who had children who are having children. I'm in the generation having children now! I have a four-year-old and a seven-year-old, don't I?
But now. Rhiannon introduced me to her friends as her aunt, and I tried to chat with those girls (listen to me---"those girls"?! It's not just them recognizing the generational change) about parenthood and Harry Potter versus Star Wars and good vacations for kids. And I realized that I'm the aunt. Not the cousin.
Time, she passes.
I watched Rhiannon opening the baby gifts, and held and coddled the six-month-old, and came to accept that I am all right with not having any more babies, even though I love them and can't keep my hands off them. I watched Rhiannon's belly move with her two babies, and was reminded strongly of what it felt like to have a slippery baby slide his foot over and kick my liver. She held up some of the baby onesies on her belly, and I remember doing the exact same thing, trying to imagine that baby in there. I won't do that again, and I am okay with that.
But graduating to the third generation from the bottom? Weird.
I guess that's what I get for marrying a man 15 years my senior. Still, it's quite a pill to swallow.