Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another Awkward Moment by Sharon O'Donnell

As my own children grow up -- with my oldest two now in college and high school -- I sometimes long to hold a baby in my arms again. I know a lot of women with older children feel the same way. Fortunately for me, my niece Kristin had a beautiful baby girl in 2009. She and her husband live about 3 hours away, and they came home last weekend to visit. Their little girl, Kylie, is now 15 months old, and I love that age -- to see her walking around unsteadily and giggling that baby laugh that is probably the best sound in the entire world.

When Kristin and her husband revealed what the baby’s gender would be, there was a bit of chaos in our house. A girl! That was unbelievable news because having a girl is a rare occurrence on my side of the family. Of my parents’ eight grandchildren, Kristin is the only girl, preceded by her brother and followed by six male cousins. Three of those six boys are mine, and the other three belong to my sister, Gail.

So the day we found out it was a girl was quite exciting. My sister Mary (Kristin’s mom) got a phone call from Kristin telling her they found out the baby’s sex. At that very moment, Gail, my mother, and I were also in the room. We waited in great anticipation as Mary talked to Kristin. When Mary turned to us and exclaimed, "It's a girl!", Gail -- my fellow mom of only boys -- and I squealed -- literally squealed. Needless to say, we were all very excited about having a little girl in the family at last.

My youngest, Jason, who was eight then, was especially eager for the baby to arrive. Years earlier when he was four, Jason told me one night he’d made a wish on a star that he would have a little sister. “Ah, sweetheart,” I said, breaking the news to him as gently as I could, “that isn’t going to happen.” I almost added, “Not a snowball’s chance in hell,” but I caught myself.

Kristin and Jason are cousins, but there is a twenty year age gap in between them, due to my older sister having her children rather early in life, and me having my youngest later in life. When we first found out Kristin was expecting, I was assisting two other adults in teaching Jason’s Sunday School class when one of the adults asked students to share something that had happened to them during the past week. Jason’s hand shot up immediately, a huge grin appearing on his face, barely able to contain his enthusiasm. He even made a few of those ‘ooh-ooh’ noises Arnold Horshack used to make on Welcome Back Kotter. “Yes, Jason?” one of the adults responded, smiling, probably expecting a story about a soccer or basketball team victory or a trip to Disney.

“My cousin is pregnant!” Jason shouted. The other two teachers didn’t know quite how to respond. The thing is – people usually assume that an 8-year-old has cousins near his own age or maybe in their teens, and they had obviously made this assumption. They looked awkwardly at me, their eyes wide. “Yes,” I replied quickly, “my niece and her husband announced last weekend they are expecting a baby in November.” I emphasized the word ‘husband’ to get my point across. They breathed a sigh of relief that Jason hadn’t spilled the beans about a delicate family situation.

Yet another awkward moment of being an older mom. Will they never end?


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