Sorry for the long blog hiatus. Life’s been coming at me fast, as this post will begin to get into. But we’re back! Thanks for reading, as always.
“Are you ready to be an uncle?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
That’s how it went at my sister Stephanie’s baby shower a few weeks ago. I guess there’s a stable of questions that everyone asks at those things — for Steph, they were about how she was feeling, whether she had everything set up in her new home, offers to help after the baby comes in December, and inquiries about whether or not they could touch her belly.
For everyone else, it’s “Are you ready to be a (insert one of father, grandfather, grandmother, uncle)?” Inevitably, you give some form of affirmative answer, some more confident than others, as mine indicates.
But honestly, my answer was really no, I’m not ready to be an uncle. Please don’t let that worry you, Steph and J.B. Allow me to explain.
I thought I’d be a father by now.
I didn’t expect to be with Aimee for just shy of 10 years and not be married with children, but that’s how it went. For what felt like the longest time after we broke up (but was probably just three or four months), I would randomly find myself mired in loss.
I felt like I had been cheated out of everything I had dreamt of — a lifetime of love and adventure with my partner, a family to raise to change the world with compassion and love, and the satisfaction of knowing that my life was about more than just me.
I do a lot of thinking in the shower, and those were the worst times. I’d break down maybe every other morning, asking aloud “Why me?” I gave myself entirely to Aimee. I put in the work to make that relationship work. Why didn’t she love me enough to do the same?
It took me a long time, far longer than I hoped, to accept a few important truths. For one thing, she loved me with everything she had. When I broke up with her, her world came crashing down, and, ironically, it got her working on those things that would have kept us together. The bottom line was that no amount of love could have fixed the problems we had. We were, ultimately, incompatible, and that’s just how life is.
For those dreams I lamented to have become reality, I’d have needed a partner who was ready and able to work to achieve them, and that just wasn’t the case with Aimee. Accepting that and realizing the past was in the past is what I needed to start dreaming again.
My dear sister has been secretive of her love life since my dad gave her a hard time over her first boyfriend when she was in culinary school, fresh out of high school. She would talk to me here and there, but I’m sure even I didn’t know close to everything. She’ll probably hate that I wrote this.
I did know about JB. She spoke highly of him — he was a writer and nerd, someone after my own heart. I didn’t know him, so it wasn’t my place to approve or disapprove. If she was happy, I was happy.
In May, Steph asked me how I thought our parents would react if she asked if JB and his 10-year-old daughter to our Mother’s Day celebration. My wheels immediately started spinning.
“Wait, are you pregnant?”
She hemmed and hawed and wondered why I would ask that, but the answer was yes. I don’t know if my parents suspected anything, but no one asked, and we all had a lovely taco luncheon.
And Steph was right — I liked JB a lot. More important than almost anything else, he and I agreed that “The Last Jedi” was awful. That was all the reassurance I needed to know that he had sound judgment and good taste (don’t @ me, TLJ fans). The only thing more important was that he loved my sister.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that she called a family meeting and laid it out there. Was any of us ready? No, but is anyone ever ready?
The baby shower was a tremendously joyous occasion. It was a gorgeous day that we spent mostly out in my aunt and uncle’s backyard. Friends and family got to know each other as they melded into a group indelibly melded by life and love. Plus, maybe just to modify a Prego pasta sauce jar to say Preggo, Steph chose spaghetti and meatballs as the party’s theme, and we ate like royalty thanks to my Auntie Anne.
Despite my internal screaming, I didn’t answer no aloud when anyone asked if I was ready to be an uncle. I did, however, laugh when people said “So you’re going to be an uncle” when I told them Steph was having a boy. After the party, I gave some real thought to how I was feeling about everything.
Was I ever ready to be a father? I thought I was, but that was just a presumption based on the fact that my engagement was at a standstill for almost three years.
Am I ready to be an uncle? No, the thought terrifies me, but that’s okay. I’m going to be there and be the best damn uncle I can be.
That’s the new dream — the first of many to come.