Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Goes Around

"What comes around, goes around, goes all the way back around..."

So, I have no idea why I'm still awake. Probably because I slept til nearly 8am today, since I didn't have to be at work til late, and then I got a second wind when I was cleaning out a bunch of stuff from the kitchen for the contractor to come tomorrow to put in my new stove and microwave.

My oldest nieces and nephew are my newest Facebook friends. It was a little strange at first, because at 14, 12 and 11, they haven't really been privy to my life outside of me being their Aunt Stephie. They've honestly had no idea who I really am, what I do outside of the occasional family cookout, etc.

It's honestly been refreshing for us all. I love them to pieces, and now I get a way to tell them anytime I want. If I post a simple status update, they are the first ones to respond. They send me messages; tell me about their days. When school was canceled due to snow last week, they all 3 raced to tell me first :)

In a way, I am also seeing their lives in a way I never would have before. Funny how well we think we know these little people whose diapers we've changed, long after they've grown away from us.

My big guys (what I call my oldest nieces and nephews) have had some tough rows to hoe lately. Their parents got divorced last summer, and both remarried so fast it made all of our heads spin. Their dad got remarried in the fall, and I noticed tonight that he had joined Facebook since he had commented on one of the kids' pages.

I clicked on his profile, and it was full-on a ride down memory lane. This is the same guy, who, when I was 12, took me swimming at the place where he worked and bought me chocolate milkshakes. Who threw me up in the air and let me do all kinds of twists and turns because he would catch me. I used to lay on my sister's shoulder when I was 13 and she was 17, and listen to them talk on the phone. They were so in love. Ryan--my very first brother-in-law, who became my very first introduction to relationships, through my sister's. As bizarre as it sounds, it's true. When we are very young, we watch those who are older to see how relationships should be.

And watch them, I did. Watched them have their first baby when I was 14, and they were 18 and 20. Watched as they got up with the baby in the middle of the night--I couldn't really help that since they put the crib in MY room. I watched as they struggled, and then had baby numbers two and three.

So here I am, 28. My sister and Ryan are both well into their 30's. Both remarried, both with stepkids of their own. I was looking at pictures tonight of Ryan's stepdaughter, of his wife, of his new life. Of how his own stepdaughter now has two families, and I knew how hard it must be for her when I noticed she had step-siblings now on both sides.

I saw how his wife "tagged" my nieces and nephew as her children.

But they're NOT her children. Where was she when Shelby wouldn't stop sucking a pacifier at 4? When Logan and Carlee wet the bed until midway through elementary school? Where was she when they were born, when they walked and talked and the time Carlee had a bad fall down the stairs and I think all of our hearts collectively stopped beating?

But they are not my children either. They are not even "real" nieces and nephews to me, and it struck me watching them move into having two families, just as I have done, how strange it all really is. We all shuffle and twist and turn to fit into families that are not what we were born with. We must grab onto our parent, and trust that they will put us in a new family with them that will suit.

I remember doing that. I remember hiding behind the couch when everyone would fight, and I remember telling people at school that I wasn't an only child anymore because I had new sisters. It's such a HUGE adjustment, and it's one that has impacted the course of my entire life.

For where would I be, without the eight loves of my life? My eight nieces and nephews who would be walking this earth as strangers to me, had my parents not given a second glance to their second spouses. I am telling the story of just three of them, and I could write novels on the other five.

My life has been forever changed. And, through an hour on Facebook, I'm watching their lives be forever changed. I'm seeing a tiny glimpse into their "other" life, and I know now that they will be forever lost to me in a way they wouldn't have been before. They will always be invested in another family; they will have siblings and aunts and uncles and babies I won't ever know.

It gives me a new appreciate for my mother, who I know struggles with the fact that I have another life soley apart from her with my father's family. Especially because there are new babies on that side, my little guys who I know I reference often on this blog. It reminds her of when there were babies on our side, and life was so different for us all then.

It all seems so fragile sometimes.

At Christmas, I didn't even get over the threshold of my grandmothers door before they were attacking me and trying to leap into my arms. Sometimes they forget they're now taller than me, and sometimes I forget I can't pick them up anymore when I fold my long-legged 12 year old in my lap. They love me, and I love them fiercely. And they know it. They'll know it, for as long as they want to know it, and I will pray that it is enough.

That these faint lines and thin strings that hold us all together, will prove stronger than we know.

Me, and the girl I used to rock to sleep, at Christmas this year. I can't believe we look the same age now!

"I close my eyes, I turn around, and you're almost grown."


Bethany said...

Sweet pics.
Sweet writing. I love the way you sorted this all out, and your musings from Facebook. Families. You've got A LOT of it!
Soulful and hartwrenching stuff.

Bethany said...

heart, I meant!

Hope you're having a good day.

Angie Muresan said...

Isn't it funny though? And sad, too, in a way, how quickly a life can change.

May said...

My most beloved Aunt is not related to me by blood. If I did not have her, I don't know who I'd be. You are lucky to have those little loves, but they are truly blessed to have you. They will love you forever and always.

Ms. Moon said...

But, but, but...you're only twelve now. At least that's what you look like in those pictures.

SJ said...

The only one that's taken of me this year and not like 5-6 years ago is the second one to the bottom....but yeah, I know. Trust me, I get that all the time. Not great in the workplace sometimes.

Kori said...

Hm, I would have thought from reading the blog that you are much, much younger than you look in that picture; what are you, like 50? Sheesh.

SJ said...

Kori, I almost choked when I read that!! Ha! Touché :)
And yes -it's really a curse to look so mature ;)

Allegra Smith said...

What goes around comes and goes and comes and goes...Don't be really surprised if your ex-bil new wife tagged the children as her own. People fears distance of any kind, and if she claims the territory, well then at least to those who don't know there is no distance between them. A nice little package all tied up with blue and pink ribbons. Sigh.

Nice to be able to see from both sides now, you may not think so but in time it will be easier. I love your writing too. Easier to read between the lines ;)

Anonymous said...

I feel the same pang of 'wrongness' when I hear my ex-husband's wife refer to my daughter as one of her children.
You seem to have reconciled it all in your mind in a reasonable and philosophical way.