I’ve been on sick leave for weeks. I had a surgery that’s been planned for month and am recuperating under my mother’s watchful eye. I was on heavy painkillers for weeks, unable to take care of myself.
Slowly, I’ve been feeling better. I’ve gotten stronger. The pain has gone away. I am no longer on painkillers. I can go out, and, more importantly, I can drive. Last week I had my first post-operation outing without a member of my family.
I know, however, that to my youngest sister this process has taken longer than she anticipated. From the second or third week she’s inquired to my mother how long she intends to stay with me. She was somewhat baffled at the response that my mother intended to stay at my place until I returned to work.
It’s not that my sister is uncaring about my health, it’s just that if my mother is living at my place taking care of me she’s not living at my sister’s house and taking care of her son.
I am getting better because I am finally well enough to be asked to be chauffeur to my nephew. I don’t go back to work for a few more weeks, but am well enough to get around. I am well enough, in other words, to pull my weight.
I don’t have children. But I have sat through countless band performances, soccer games, choir recitals, and swim meets. I have sat through girl scout meetings, helped sell boxes of cookies, taken the troop caroling, and ensured that forms and dues were turned in on time. I have provided years of morning school drop-off duty — including picking up the snack of the day, making sure the kids had money, and often feeding them breakfast before the trip to school even began. I have gone on shopping trips for back-to-school clothes and supplies. I have taken sick children to the doctor’s office, picked them up earl from school, and taken them to work with me when other childcare options have failed. I have gone through orientation and background checks to get on the list of people allowed to access the kiddo’s private school. I have watched more animated and kids’ movies than I ever thought was possible.
Some of this required that I change work and personal plans. Some of this required that I write a check, participate in activities that had me suppressing yawns and sighs, and keep going long after I wanted to drop.
I am an involved aunt.
I have heard from some friends that this is not what happens in most families. But, what I’ve seen with my friends is that we all provide child-rearing support of some sort to our siblings, whether we have children ourselves or not. What that means for me is that I provide backup for my sisters. And I write that as I watch over my youngest nephew at my place. Did I mention that I’m feeling better?
***** Written on my ipad. I promise to proof and edit it later. ******