Hey Dibbuns (my loyal readers), these days Auntie Lee-Lee’s world is looking very XX (chromosome) fabulous, as in it’s all about girls!
Dennis’ daughter, my bonus daughter, Katie, and her husband Jake are expecting a baby in September. In May their friends had a gender reveal party, and when Jake struck that golf ball it exploded in a puff of beautiful pink!
When I had my daughter, Amanda, I had the thrilling opportunity to give birth in a teaching hospital. My labor was a “teaching opportunity” for several young Doctors in training. First, the Nurse would check to see how dilated my cervix was; she wouldn’t say it out loud, then a line up of residents got a shot. One bashful young Asian resident with whom I had just become intimately acquainted, kept getting 5 centimeters while the nurse got 3. I like to think my part in this exercise lead to significant medical advancements, and he became the “cervix whisperer” of the medical field.
In Canada, natural childbirth is encouraged, passive-aggressively, so just when I got to the point where I was ready for an epidural, it was “too late,” according to the Nurse. I still don’t believe the bitch. There I was drug-free, attempting to be patient with a bunch of students.
*On a side note, an obstetrician I know once told me that he had a patient with whom he went to church. When the pain cranked up she began to spew words that would make a sailor blush. Then when they tried the “oh, you’re almost there you don’t want an epidural” on her, he said; she screamed and said, “Mother F****er, I know where you live, give me the Goddamn epidural.” Bet that made for some awkward Sundays😳
Back to me drug free, spread eagle holding a teaching seminar on female anatomy. Amanda came fast and furious. None the less the answer to the great mystery of the gender of my baby was finally going to be revealed.
I had a daughter! I still feel unworthy of being lucky enough to have a girl and a boy, even in the order I would have preferred! While Kyle was my revelation and my revolution, Amanda was my inspiration and my co-conspirator in life. She gets me in a way no one else does, and I’m not just talking about our Masterpiece Theater addiction. It’s something deeper. She is on a path I have walked before her. She is an echo of my womanhood. We are part of the sisterhood, even though I am her Mum.
I have decided that since there will now be a new generation of girls in the family, I wanted each generation to say something to the next. I will write to Amanda (Panda bear), and Auntie Panda will write to Petunia.
I’m pretty sure that’s not what Katie and Jake are naming their daughter, I mean Rebecca Leana Hermione Anne of Green Gables Walsh the Ist sounds pretty excellent, but they might have their own (uninspired) names. So, we will refer to baby girl Walsh as Petunia just for this blog post.
As I am writing this, I just realized why the name Petunia floated into my brain!
When Amanda was 4, I went to the Dr. because I felt very strange. Like woozy, distracted, and gassy, strange. Amanda was with me, and she was wearing little yellow rain boots, a blue velvet dress, large pink beads, and clip-on fake ruby earrings. Overdressing for all occasions was Amanda’s signature look, trying to get her to wear pants was harder than giving birth to her!
They took some blood, and then the Dr. came in, and he said to Amanda, “Hello Petunia.” Then he sat down and told me, “Wouldn’t life be dull without surprises? SURPRISE, you’re pregnant!
WOW! I had not even considered the idea??? Without being too graphic, precautions had been in place, while we contemplated a third baby. I was in shock, but within five minutes, I was picking baby names and thinking over baby nursery themes. A seed of hope began to grow in my heart, full of the possibilities of a new life. I envisioned a whole new family with three children. We were very excited!
Sadly, that baby was never to be. I miscarried within 48 hours of knowing I was pregnant. It is startling how quickly you can create an entire world in your imagination.
How strange that I thought of that. But, maybe not… maybe that seed of hope didn’t just disappear, possibly hope never dies it just moves on? Perhaps, it drifted away in the winds, until it found a new place to rest, on a new life, the hope of a new granddaughter.
“There are neither beginning nor endings to the turn of of the Wheel of Time.”Robert Jordan
We soon will be welcoming a wee new member to our family, a girl! It has me feeling very nostalgic about your childhood and birth. What a joy you have been! You got my sense of humor (although yours is a little saltier), my ability to throw a bumpin’ party, my sincere appreciation for sleep, and unfortunately my predisposition for depression (sorry). Thankfully, you didn’t get my giant clown feet, and my arithmophobia (fear of math.)
I can close my eyes, and I am back in St. Boniface hospital just over 25 years ago holding you in a pink blanket, thinking I had won the lottery! Once we were alone, I told you how much you were wanted and what a great time we were going to have as you were growing up. I also told you that you had entered into the sacred sisterhood of the world of women.
Talking about sisterhood has me thinking about Nuns. I think about Nuns more than the average person; in fact, I have a bizarre obsession with them. From little on I loved all things Nuns.
There is an album called Joy is like the rain that came out in 1966.
It’s by The Medical Mission Sisters. My Mom loved it! She used to play it endlessly and sing along. I used to stare at that album cover, with a towel hanging on my head like the veils those cheerful nuns were wearing, and think someday I’m going to be a Nun. It looked like so much fun. If that seems odd to you understand, my first choice for my life was to be a pink cloud (spoiler alert: that didn’t work out either.) So… you get what kind of kid I was.
Well, no, I’m not Catholic, but in my little girl mind, Nuns symbolized everything beautiful about the friendship of women. I had fantasies about living in a state of a permanent sleepover, doing handicrafts, helping people together. We would have cute nicknames for each other, Sister Mister (she would have a facial hair problem). Sister Trickster, the convent prankster. Sister Trickster would do things like glue the other nun’s Bibles together, swap out communion wine for tequila, and dye all the sister’s undergarments hot pink. Perhaps, they would call me Sister Leana Banana.
We would sneak out at night and raid the convent kitchen for ice cream, and put a little too much rum in our Christmas fruitcakes. It would be constant shenanigans and fun at our convent!
Man, I had a plan. Then my Mum told me Nuns aren’t allowed to like boys. WHAT? Why not? Boys, to me at that age, were like bras, intriguing but a little scary! I also knew they were in my future.
I still am totally in love with the idea of Nuns because I love the sisterhood, not enough to forsake men, but lots. I have created an unofficial, small order of sisters; we are free to marry, say the occasional bad word, enjoy a few drinks together, and not wear hot, sweaty habits. We also support each other spiritually and emotionally. So, all the fun but none of the sacrifice. The Jolly Sisters of Small Indulgences. I am accepting applications! Always! Please be prepared to produce references and pictures proving your funness.
You know my friend Miss Jackie, Panda. In case you didn’t know, she’s from New Jersey, so excuse the colorful “Jersey Language.” Once we were talking about how some women don’t have good female friends, and she said, “I don’t want to be your F***ing friend if you don’t have other women friends. I mean there’s something f****ing wrong with a woman who doesn’t like other women!”
Preach it, Sister Jackie!
Anyways, my sweet little peanut-butter cup, you are stronger than I am and far more intelligent. Whatever trials may come your way, you’re going to be just fine. You have self-reliance, faith, and the sisterhood to get you through the sticky bits of life. Try and enjoy and savor every season of your journey, and remember you are my wish upon a star.
Now it’s your turn to welcome your new niece into our fold!
Love, Mummy xoxo
The Next Generation,
So, Petunia, here are some words of wisdom from your Auntie Panda.
Bear in mind, Amanda was quite the precocious little minx. When I cut her hair short when she was three, she wore a pink ballet skirt on her head for a year and called it “My pink hair.” Amanda has always been sure of her mind!
As of today, you are just a little nugget in your momma’s tummy. We still have a few months before we finally get to meet you, but you are already loved. Before you became a thought, I never really considered what it would really be like to be an aunt. I assumed my siblings would eventually have kids and, conceptually, I understood I would be an aunt one day, but I never thought about what that would truly mean to me. And then you happened. You have not entered this world yet, but I already love you and the title “Auntie Panda” is so exciting.
I have to admit, I’m extra excited to be getting a niece first. Although I would have loved a nephew as well, there is something special to me about the first new member of this family being a girl. You are joining something special and unbreakable- a sisterhood that expands far beyond just our familial unit. This is a responsibility you should not take lightly, this very special sisterhood lasts a lifetime.
As you grow up, you are going to face many different challenges in life, problems that may not even cross your mind until you are faced with them. Often, these are unique challenges that you may find your future brothers or male cousins may not have to even think about. Quite frankly, being a girl in this day and age is not easy.
You are expected to be beautiful, smart, hard-working, domestic, a good mother, a good wife, and a good daughter. People may place too much emphasis on your looks, and not enough on your intelligence. Be intelligent anyway. People may make it seem as though your purpose on this earth is to take care of others and may consider it selfish of you to pursue ambitious career goals. Pursue them anyway. At the same time, though, never feel guilty for wanting to feel beautiful or for wanting to prioritize having a family over your career. What I hope for you is the freedom to be joyfully and unapologetically yourself, whatever that may look like to you.
Sometimes being a girl can be frustrating. Never forget though, that it is also so uniquely powerful. I hope you use that power for good as you grow up. Be kind to everyone, including other girls. The world tries to pit us against each other, but we need to stick together, lift each other up, and help one another climb to new heights.
Regardless of anything you may encounter as you go through life, I want you to know that I am in your corner and on your side. I have been through my own fair share of both expected and unexpected challenges, so I never want you to feel embarrassed or shy about confiding in me. I will never judge you, and I will always have your best interest at heart. I will be there for you no matter what, because I love you. Never forget that your mom, Oma, and I will be there with you. No matter what you face always be humble, and place your intelligence and kindness above all. Be an example of strength and look at the world through a loving lens. I can’t wait to meet you and welcome to the sisterhood sweet niece.
P.S.- Don’t break up with boys on Christmas Eve, your Mom and I can tell you it’s a bad idea. Oma demands intense jolliness at Christmas.