Generation Next

DSC_2005_2One of the paper photos I still carry with me, even with a lifetime of photos immediately phone-accessible, is of my adorable 3-year old nephew. He’s looking down at his fingers while his bowl of blond hair falls just above his eyes. He was the first person who made me want to be a mom.

So how can it be that he’s 30 and about to be a dad?

It must have been 5 or 6 years ago I distinctly remember packing a box of baby gifts – a Gund bear with flat eyes that couldn’t be pulled or chewed off, outfits made for ease of diaper changing, black and white toys, a Pat the Bunny book – for him. I hate to sound all Sunrise/Sunset, but I don’t remember growing that much older – when did they?

I’ve successfully denied getting older for quite awhile. Turning 40 didn’t bother me – I threw a party and enjoyed being surrounded by friends who shared my journey. While turning 41 was a bit of a shock (yes, the numbers get higher after the big ones, you don’t just stay there), I navigated the next decade with aplomb, immersing myself in kids, school, sports, and work. Even turning 50 never felt horrific, and the party strategy worked once again to divert my attention (I highly recommend this approach).

55 is a bit disturbing. Denying middle age is no longer remotely plausible, and 55 definitely rounds to 60. AARP stalks my mailbox. I’m seeing wrinkles. And, between highlighting sessions, some grey hair. Our youngest will leave for college next year. All the signs of serious aging are there, but nothing that has stopped me in my tracks.

Until now. My nephew got married a few months ago to a wonderful woman. When my brother asked me if I liked his son’s fiancé, I replied, “She’s smart, funny, beautiful, went to Brown, and teaches special needs kids. What’s not to like?” Their wedding celebration was lovely, beautiful and low-key, perfect. We were all so happy and excited for them.

Of course I couldn’t be more thrilled by their news. And they will be great parents. I only wish we weren’t 900 miles away.

But wow. My baby nephew is having a baby. And while he’s certainly old enough to be a dad, and I am old enough to be a grandmother let alone a great aunt, a new generation is arriving that I thought I still had a couple years to prepare for. While this is so not about me, I’m starting to feel old. I remember, in my late teens, beginning to identify more with parents than children, and how odd that felt. Now, even though I remain in a stage of active parenthood with 2 in college and one in high school, is it time to identify more with grandparents? I’m pretty sure I’m not ready for that.

I’m looking forward to becoming a great aunt, and to carrying a new photo of my little nephew – with his own little boy or girl. I’ll keep that one on my phone. But I’ll keep my old paper photo of that adorable 3-year old too.