Approximately 100% of my time is taken up with being a mum - doing mum stuff and thinking about mum stuff and frantically grabbing at moments of ‘me’ so that I can try to be a slightly less shouty and frazzled mum when I’m doing and thinking about the mum stuff.
But before I was a mum, I was something entirely different - something entirely lovely. Before I was a mum, I was an aunty.
I was still a teenager when I became an aunty the first time. My brother and his girlfriend became parents to an adorable baby girl who, in the rare moments I spent time with her, I just wanted to dress up like a doll and play mummies with. That little girl was only as old as my Lola is now when she lost both her parents. It’s a long and complicated and terribly sad tale that one day I may share, or perhaps not. But for all of its sadness, it has a happy enough ending because, despite the odds, that tiny girl has grown into a beautiful and smart young woman who turns 21 tomorrow. There were times when I wasn’t sure if she, or any of us, would make it. And I couldn’t be prouder of where she’s come from and who she’s become.
I didn’t spend a huge amount of time with her as she was growing up, largely due to distance and circumstance, so when my big sister had her first baby, another beautiful girl, many years later, it was like I became an aunty for the first time all over again. I was in the room when this baby was born, and it was a life-changing moment for me, one of the most profound things I had experienced to date - watching on as my sister’s writhings and gaspings transformed into this perfect little creature.
I was besotted by her. I couldn’t get enough. I looked for excuses to pop over for a visit. I grabbed at babysitting opportunities. I showed photos of her to people at work, for godsakes! It was in her that my desire to be a mum was born.
That little girl is now on the cusp of her teenage years. Right now she’s in Italy competing with the Australian national children’s ski squad. She’s gonna be a champion, that one.
A couple of weeks ago I was tidying up, trying to sort through and rearrange some of the toys and play stuff that clogs our house. As I folded the dolls’ blankets and clothes, most of them hand-me-downs from my almost-teenage niece, I felt a bit wistful. It won’t be too long before my own girls will have outgrown all of this stuff. The blink of an eye.
I’m not as good at being an aunty since I became a mum but I’m glad I got the opportunity before my own kids came and snaffled that little 100% of me. Five nephews have followed those two girls, gorgeous and clever boys all of them. But the girls have a special place in my heart. They both made me an aunty for the first time.
(Happy 21st birthday, Ahnika. It's a really big deal.)