Sitting with one of my seasoned, sensational Golden Sorors, we chatted a few weeks ago about the prospects for my future since my surgery. She was intimately familiar with the details of my surgery and my reasoning for doing what I did. So she was asking the standard questions… “How many kids do you want?” “Where do you plan to live?” “Have you picked out names?” and the like. And of course I answered each question and offered the answer up as a claiming of my victory to God… knowing that it will come about… just making sure that He knows that I know.
Then she asked a question that I’d not been asked before and it really got me to thinking.
“Who is your support network once the children are here?”
And I paused… I knew what she was asking. Who was really here to help me with the children. What family members (particularly of a female kind – sorry guys) would be able to lend a hand on a regular basis? The standard answers from most folks would… “My mom, his mom, my grandma, his grandma, varied aunties and tanties and countless female cousins.” But I ticked off that harrowing checklist that I’m now the owner of: No mom. No grandma. No dad.And then added to it 1 sick auntie that I trust. A few aunt in laws who have huge families on their sides. No girl cousins. I could tell by now she was seeing the wheels turn in my head and started to get a look of concern on her face. And I finally turned to her and said… “Well, I’m most certainly excited that I decided to join AKA all those years ago… ” And she giggled warmly. I told her that outside of my Mommy Cora (my mother-in-law) and my Auntie Ina (my auntie-in-law) I would mostly lean on the very close knit friends I’d had the fortune to make in life, several of which are sorors. That was a satisfactory answer for her.
I used to feel so envious… There’s a close friend of mine who whenever anything happens in his family, his wife’s family swoops in around them: birthdays, christenings, barbecues, graduations… whatever… here they come from the 4 points of the earth to surround her with assistance and love. Varied Aunties and Tanties… Countless girl cousins. And I would wish to have that. But my immediate family was like that so long ago… and now everyone is so old… the idea of my 1 blood Auntie climbing 2 flights of stairs with her bad knee to help me with my babies breaks my heart. And my uncles… well, I’ll be real – the one uncle I know who WOULD want to partake, is terribly sick as well. The other uncles are so ensconced in their own soap operas… one of them didn’t even bother to come to my wedding. (I’m referring, of course, to all the siblings for my mom – as all the siblings for my dad passed before he did, so they’re really all I have left). And ALL my cousins (1st and blood) are BOYS. I have not ONE girl cousin that I grew up with or who taught me to braid hair or play double dutch. So then, there’s that. I somehow doubt that there could be any REAL joy out of my giving birth from my family due to the fact that they have so many other problems going on… facing their own mortality, trying to get their own affairs in order after witnessing the death of their eldest sister… my mommy.
There was a time when my family WAS that kind of family. The swoop in from everywhere family. And there were varied aunties and tanties and all my mommy’s countless girl cousins would come and help roll out dough for Haitian patties and caramelize sugar for tablette pistache and bring all their confectionery tools to make glorious 3 and 4 tiered cakes with the silver sugar balls. And when it was their turn, mom would scoop me up and we’d swoop to them… and I’d help sew little heart shaped pillows for wedding favors or tie printed ribbons on a communion keepsake. And I was going through all that in my head while I showered the other day when I realized… most of these varied aunties and tanties and countless girl cousins… when I became of age to understand the tree that is family and started to ask about them to my mom… were BARELY related to us… if at all. A lot of “their great grandfather and my great grand father were 2nd cousins” or “we’re not blood relation… we grew up on the top of the hill together” or “we went to school together and roomed in Brooklyn while we got on our feet when we first came to America”. And I started to get VERY excited… because that means that I DO have varied aunties and tanties for my babies and COUNTLESS girl cousins that currently call best friends. And they have PROVEN their “swoop in” to me… in more ways than I could ever care to count… from silly heart breaks over worthless boys to life altering changes like losing a parent or a first major surgery.
So okay – they may not know how to make all the Haitian goodies… but they know how to make Jamaican ones and Southern ones and African ones and Indian ones and Trini ones and Grenadian ones and Italian ones and Midwestern ones and Colombian ones and French ones… and they’re ALL treats my babies won’t have to wait until they’re in college to experience. They’ll have grown up well rounded with this network of women that if I didn’t tell them any different – they’d be SURE that we were all related.
I thought about what I’d want these babies to call my network of women… out of respect of course – the ones closest to me, they’ll know as their Aunts. But they will call them “Tati”. My one blood aunt – we were trained to call her Tante Sisi (her name is Elsie and Tante means aunt in French) – but as kids you’re always talking fast and so it became Tati Si. So they’ll lovingly call you all Tati. And for the men they’ll call you “Mon Oncle” or “Oncle” (pronounced on-cler) before your names (which means “My Uncle”). And I know my babies won’t learn Creole and French from the onset, but they’ll have bits and pieces… until they decide they’d like to learn more.
I know I write a lot of posts about this network of friends and sisters. I know I dote on them quite a bit. But I owe them so much… when they’re present and when they’re not… for saving me from myself in despair – for offering their hearts up to help when i don’t even ask for it – and for their presence being SO strong, that I can call into mind this GLORIOUS future that I have waiting for my babies to come thanks to these PHENOMENAL Women (and Men) that I call my friends.