Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Time to Break out the Breast Pump

I just got word through the family grapevine that my cousin is being induced tomorrow. In a couple of hours, she is going to be a mother.

This sort of freaks me out. I mean, wasn't it just yesterday that I was sitting at this girl's wedding? Wasn't it just yesterday that my cousin Kaity and I were scamming my brother and her brother, both under 21, drinks from the open bar? Wasn't it just yesterday that my brother chose my cousin's happy day as the day to divulge the fact that he'd had intercourse with six girls in his life? Wasn't it just yesterday that Kaity and I wandered into the garden and tried very, very hard not to vomit at that news? Sure seems like it. It really does.


Of course, that's not the only thing that seems like yesterday. It hardly seems right that my cousin and I--born a few months apart, our grandmother's oldest grandchildren--are old enough to be having babies. Just the other day I was talking to the Boy From Work about my cousin's seriously badass collection of Micro Machines and how I was just so jealous of them. She had a bucket heaped with those tiny wheels and fenders and fins. I used to beg to play with them whenever I was over at her house, and I was always sad to dump my handful of Chevys back into the bucket and leave. Right now I'm finding it hard to get that out of my head, the image of us as kids, skittering and hissing those cars across the floor. How is it possible that the girl who had the best Micro Machine collection in the entire universe is ready to have a baby?

Also, wasn't her brother just born? I remember the late-night phone call, the news that my aunt was going into labor. I remember thinking, Huh. This is the most interesting thing that's happened to me lately. I didn't know that many people who were off having babies, after all. Most of my friends' siblings had been born before them or shortly thereafter, so there wasn't anyone who was anxiously awaiting a new brother or sister. Except my cousin. And I somehow thought that was great, even though my own experiences with getting a baby brother were less than stellar. (On the first day my brother was home from the hospital, I may or may not have thrown my spoon into my soup and said that I wished he'd never been born, and then I may or may not have climbed down onto the floor and spread out a map from one of my parents' National Geographics and pretended I was plotting my escape to fabulous lands. I also wanted to look smart and way more interesting than my brother. I wanted to look like I was learned and wise, like I had intimate knowledge of what a pest my brother was going to be for the next umpteen years of our lives.) But I don't think my two cousins have a history like that. And now he looks like Bon Jovi.


Over the course of our lives, we--our grandmother's real grandchildren--have been this little gang, and it hardly seems like it's time to give that up. Now that my cousin will have a baby, it's very unlikely that she'll ever schlep down to our grandmother's basement, where the "kids" are still shipped off to at the annual Christmas in November party. The baby will not belong in the basement sipping wine and making snide remarks about the other grandchildren (grandchildren of the man my grandmother married later in life--a man who, every time he came over for dinner while I was in college, asked me what I would do if I ever got a colored roommate). We are wary of those "grandchildren" and their sometimes too-zealous love of dogs and brass instruments. But does the arrival of the new baby mean we will have to be less wary and snide now that there's an impressionable brain around? Do we have to actually set a good example? Do we have to actually grow up? Do we have to stop being these girls?


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