End of an Era?

I feel very sad tonight.  I’ve returned home from the 10th Annual Thanksgiving Weekend with my niece.  I have been told by friends who have children that this day was coming.  I thought I was prepared.  I noticed it last year and this year it was confirmed!!!

I’m Auntie.  No longer friend and playmate.  Just Auntie.

me-and-mayaWe used to share the same room – bunk beds.  I’d sleep on the bottom bunk.  She’d help me try different remedies for my snoring.  We used to take turns reading aloud to one another.  We used to play board games, i.e. Scrabble for Juniors, Monopoly Junior, Chutes and Ladders, Guess Who?, Operation, Candy Land,  and card games, Racko and Uno, to name a few.  We’d play with Barbie and Barbie’s My House, Barbie’s Surfs Up Pool, Barbie and Kelly’s Supermarket Playset.  We’d go to the movies.  Grab a bite to eat.  Go shopping.  Watch cartoons and TV.  Buy gifts for the family.  Buy gifts for the dog, Ms. Jackie Robinson.  Ahhhhh, those were the days.

This may be the last Thanksgiving I drive 2-1/2 to 3 hours each way to have dinner Thursday, veg out on TV and/or shop on Friday, put up Xmas decorations on Saturday,  return home on Sunday OR go to church on Sunday and return home on Monday.

She has her own room now – and I’ve got a guest room.  This year and last, no reading aloud together, however we played Wii.  No board games – she plays with her Gameboy.  Last year I got to sit with her at the movie.  This year I couldn’t – she made a date to see the movie with her friends.  (I have to admit they had made plans to see it previously and one of her friends was ill so it was rescheduled to this weekend.)   And I had to make a good argument as to WHY I could attend the same movie at the same time they were going!!!

adamOnce I got home tonight, I phoned my good friend Jane, mother of my 2 godsons, Adam and Joey, 22 and 19, respectively, because I knew SHE understood what I was going through, being a mother and all.

She said, “Yes” she said, “What you’re describing is kind of like being a mother.  That relationship, that bond.”

She reminded me I went through the same thing with the boys.  Either I don’t remember it feeling this lousy OR it didn’t feel this lousy.

joeyAnd as she continued talking with me, I realized, YES, I went through some of this same letting go with them. When it became no longer “COOL” to go to the movies with their “Auntie”.  (Yes, we all know I’m the god-mom, however when they were younger they didn’t distinguish and we didn’t correct them.)  We no longer had play dates either.  Then they got girlfriends and learned to drive.  And because their Mom and I are friends and I continue to visit with HER, they continue to see me and I them, so I am still in their lives.  (They are only a 20 minutes drive away.)

Then Jane said, “Find SOME way to continue being in her life.  She said, “You’re the one that’s always telling me it’s all about family and relationships.”

Once she said that, I remembered I had been thinking on the drive home of alternatives to keep in touch with my niece in case I decide not to make the trip next year.  I thanked Jane for reminding me of that.

Here are the ideas I came up with on the way home:   I thought of sending her an e-card on the 29th of each month from the ‘Celebrate the Date’ series and engage her in a discussion about them.  (She was born on the 29th.)  She has a cellphone so I thought to send her a text message on another day at least once a month.  Those two things are a start.

maya-and-her-momAdditionally, she says she wants to be a lawyer.  Her mom says the 1st African American Woman Supreme Court Justice.  I asked her if she was on the debate team at her school because debate is one of the skills of a good attorney.  She said she knew lawyers needed to be good debaters AND that they didn’t have a debate team at her school, nor at the high school she is planning to attend.  So perhaps she and I can locate a debate team in her area.

So, in the world of No Out There, she’s not doing anything to me.  She’s not to blame.  She’s not at fault.  AND neither am I.  It’s just what’s happening.  And I get to decide how to be with that.  My decision at this moment is to beef up my presence on a monthly basis.

AND I’ve just thought of something else we could do together – which would mean I’d have to make the trip next year.  According to her mother, my niece likes to cook.  I’m a pretty good cook, even though I don’t too much any more.  IF she still enjoys to cook next year – her tastes change quickly – I can teach her some of the fun things I used to like to make, i.e,. hors d’oeuvres, finger sandwiches, de-boned Chicken stuffed with dressing, Farfel, Turkey Tetrazzini, etc.  We could plan a meal for Saturday and invite her maternal grandparents or even some of her friends.  Maybe even have a girlfriends party.   Hmmmm . . .

End of an Era?  Maybe not.  What do YOU think?

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