Yesterday, as we ate Nicholas's special dinner on the 13 month mark of his birth and death, my cell phone rang. It was my mom. After some small talk, she asked if Peter was in the room and, when I said he'd gone to the kitchen, she asked me to call him back. She needed to talk to me. About my little brother. Sensing an urgency and a dread and, in the back of my mind just knowing what she was going to say, I called Peter back.
I'm an aunt.
My little brother is 25 (not so little, I know). But, he has the maturity of a 15 year old at best, which, I suppose, works well for his teenage girlfriend. They both smoke, she has some sort of eating issue (doesn't want to get fat- great mentality for a pregnant woman), and live in less than ideal living conditions. If he weren't my little brother and I heard about this case on the news, I'd think 2 things: that baby is destined for foster care and the question: is this the basis for a Lifetime movie?
I love my brother. I really do. But I also know the lack of maturity he has shown on several fronts and I think it is terrible to expect a baby to fix that. I also have doubts about his girlfriend, but honestly, I dont know the girl so it isn't fair for me to pass judgement. But I'll be damned if I'm not crossed between anger and depression and then the underlying belief that every child is a beautiful gift, regardless of the parents.
My mom is upset. I spent part of the conversation, with false hope, telling her that things will be okay, that the baby is a blessing regardless of the situation of his/her conception, that she should be excited for this grandchild, too. When we were pregnant with Alex and I called to tell her, I was a mess. Excited of course, but so scared and nervous. And it hurt to tell people and see their unabated excitement. My mom, who was so thrilled with Nick and Sophie and then super excited with our miscarriage, was, once again, on top of the world. I told her that I was worried she wouldnt be excited because there was no guarantee that things would be okay. She told me that she would always be excited, every time, because I was carrying another grandchild and she loved him/her/them, no matter what. That comment made me feel so much better, so much more calm. And last night, I reminded her of that conversation. She remembered and said it was true. And I told her that this grandchild- no matter how she feels about the situation- deserves that love and excitement, too. On a cute note, I guess my brother asked her "how she feels about becoming a grandmother" and she said "I'm already a grandmother." Thanks to Mom for not downplaying our babies even in the light of a new grandchild.
I love my mom because she's honest. She told me that I was right, but then gave voice to my feelings. She talked about how Peter and I were mature and good parents and responsible, how she didn't worry about us or about our babies because she knew we were fine and that our children were well taken care of. She doesn't have that sense for my brother and his girlfriend- and neither do I. And that worries all of us. This isn't something that you can fail on- this is a baby, another person. It's one thing to screw your own life up- it's another thing to screw someone else's up. We talked about prayer- how that is really all that we can do right now. Pray that they will be good parents, that they will put this baby first and stop thinking about themselves. Pray that they will clean up the house they live in and think, once again, of this baby. Pray that he will keep his current job. Pray that she will grow up and put her child first.
And now, forgive me, while I vent. Forgive me because my first thought once the shock wore off was "At least they aren't having an abortion." Forgive me because when I think of my niece or nephew, my first thought isn't about her/him but about her/his parents. Forgive me because I think less of my brother right now for living with a girl (and that is what she is), not marrying her, being irresponsible, and getting her pregnant. Forgive me because I can't see this as a blessing, even though I told my mom to think of it as such- that this child could become a great world leader or find a cure for cancer. Forgive me for being such a hypocrite.
But most of all, I am so angry. Forgive me for that. Instead of a post that is all flowers and happy because, after all, my little brother is having a baby and that means I'm an aunt!!!!!, you're getting a post that is full of anger and sorrow. And it's not over yet. But if I don't get it out with you, God only knows what I will say to him.
I'm angry because this isn't fair. Of all of my generation, I'm the only one who has NOT had a baby out of wedlock and am one of the few to be with the father of my children. I've the best off financially. I'm the one who had outstanding medical care, who took prenatal vitamins, who didn't smoke or drink or do drugs, who ate well and took care of myself. Peter and I are the ones who did everything RIGHT. And our lives are in shambles and our children are dead. Meanwhile, my brother and his girlfriend smoke and drink, she's bone thin and worried about gaining any weight, and they live in a poverty of their own doing. When I was pregnant, I was exhausted all the time, but because we were busy helping others and financially, I needed to work a few more months, I did. I stayed in a stressful, horrific situation. I now can say that my years of working have left me with three babies so premature they couldn't be saved, a miscarriage, and, I feel, a baby conceived but not implanted. And I blame a good deal of it to my stress levels. I practically begged to stop working but because we are freaking responsible, didnt. My brother's girlfriend has decided she doesn't need to work anymore because she's pregnant. EXCUSE ME??? You can't put food on the table for yourselves but now being a cashier is too hard?
I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that I am so angry. I don't want to be. I've spent the morning praying the Agnus Dei. I just feel at a complete and utter loss. I really don't get it. I don't understand the why of any of this. I'm so tired of being the responsible one, the one who has to bail everyone else out of trouble, who has the good sense and who is supposed to just suffer with a smile. I'm just so tired of it.
Amidst all of this, I am praying that the baby is safe and healthy. That his/her parents will shape up and be good parents. That the anger I feel will disipate and I will be able, with a clear heart, to say this is good- and mean it. I want to, I really do. If things were different and my brother was married, stable, RESPONSIBLE- it really would make a difference. I could see beyond my own hurt and say "wow... good for him... congratulations!" Instead, I can't get over the issues with the situation.
Pray for them. Pray that they will do right by their child. Pray that their pregnancy will be healthy and their baby will be born full term and safe. Pray that we, as their family, will be supportive and will know what to say. That we will be able to overcome the issues that blind us to the beauty of a new baby in our family and will see this child for the gift that he or she truly is.
I'm an aunt. My brother is a father. His baby is due this winter. May blessings rain on them like the snow that is falling without ceasing outside our window.