Tracy and I have lived away from our families for nearly a decade. We’ve always enjoyed trips to our home towns filled with family and fun and loudness. But we’ve also always been happy to return home to our quiet house with our quiet dog and our own soft bed.
However, when I got pregnant the geographical distance between us and our parents suddenly left me feeling isolated. I grew-up with two sets of grandparents and several aunts and uncles within a 10 kilometer radius. My aunts taught me how to colour in the lines. My grandmother made me chocolate cake nearly on demand. And I was as likely to call my Poppa when I was sick at school as my parents. I was raised by a village of blood relatives.
As my belly expanded to make room for our precious Mac it occurred to me that we would be raising him on our own without the kind of family support that seems to make the whole endeavor much easier. Both of our families are within driving distance and will certainly come to help when needed but they wouldn’t be there for the day-to-day parenting.
We have a group of friends that form our pseudo family but I wondered if friends could truly form the village that our son would need to raise him. And then I went into labour. Both of our parents made it to the hospital as soon as they could. And many of Mac’s aunts-and-uncles-by-love showed up to welcome their new kin to the world.
As the person most in our daily lives I knew that Mac’s Auntie Tata would love him. I knew that they would be close and that he would bond with her effortlessly. But I didn’t expect the love between them to run as deeply as it has. I didn’t expect that she would race into the hospital in tears afraid that she wouldn’t be in the building as he made his grand entrance. And I certainly didn’t expect that she would visit him almost daily in the months that followed.
|Mac and his Auntie Tata: Day 1|
When Mac was fussing through the “fourth trimester” his Auntie Tata stood (because altitude mattered) and bounced him endlessly. Our tiny little dictator disallowed the swing that all of our friends’ babies seemed to love but managed to find comfort in his Auntie Tata’s arms. She bounced him while we lied on the couch and closed our eyes. She bounced him while I caught up on laundry. She bounced him into a state of complacency that gave all of our ears a break.
|Practicing the 5 "S's"|
And through all that bouncing a bond formed between them that warms my heart to witness. His face lights up when she walks in the room and his arms reach up towards her. Tracy and I can always get the time away that we need while knowing that Mac is happy and secure with his Auntie Tata. And I am certain that makes us better parents. She is practically our non-romantically-involved sister-wife.
I am entirely amazed by strength and resiliency of single parents. It’s a position I certainly don’t envy. But if I’m being completely honest I also wonder how partnered parents manage without an Auntie Tata.
Now nearly eight months into this whole parenting thing I realize that it truly does take a village to raise a child. Or at least an Auntie Tata.
|Mac has to learn to share her with Fergus|
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