Auntie Mom

Written in April of 2006.

I have this week off to help my sister take care of my three nieces, since she can't drive or lift anything for a few weeks. I'm 2 days into my assignment, and I can tell you sister is Superwoman. I really don't know how she does it. I admire her so much, as difficult as it is to take care of a 1.5 year old, a newborn, and an 8 year old....she does it with so much love and patience (and a sense of humor) that I'm really in awe of her right now.

I dropped Stephie off at school this morning and she's so cute....told me exactly where to go right down to the exact spot to park my car. I walked her over to the crossing guard who was really happy to see her and asked her about her new baby sister. She chatted away with her and it was just so cute to watch, and she was waving and blowing me kisses up until she turned the corner of the school building to meet her class in the field.

Colleen had a doctor's appointment today so we brought Abby and Emma and I stayed out in the waiting room with them while my sister was getting the staples from her C-section out. Abby immediately missed her mommy and tears started streaming down her face when she realized she couldn't follow mommy into the room she was going in. It broke my heart to see her sob so much....I tried everything! Tried to play with her favorite toys with her, read her a her some crackers helped for a few minutes. Then I realized she had a bottle in the bag we brought I gave that to her. As I'm wiping her tears and she's drinking her bottle and sitting on my lap, all I can think of to do is cuddle her and tell her I love her. "Mommy will be out in a few minutes, I PROMISE." She looked at me like "You better be right!". When Colleen came out it was like the sunshine came out on a cloudy day....Abby's face lit up like a Christmas tree and she literally JUMPED off my lap and leaped into Colleen's arms. At one point before she came back, Emma, who had been asleep, woke up to Abby's crying and looked like she was about to cry herself. I thought "OH NO, NOW WHAT DO I DO???" But she didn't cry. Honestly, I didn't know how I was going to try to comfort both of them at the same time. All Colleen has to do apparently is walk into a room.....I need a MIRACLE.

Colleen turned out to have a really bad we had to do what seemed impossible....pick up Stephanie from school, feed Emma, and drive to ANOTHER doctor...all within TWENTY minutes. All the way to Stephanie's school, I'm telling Colleen its impossible, and she's assuring me its completely do-able. We get to the school and I'm thinking she's going to pull a Mission Impossible and RUN into the school, grab her daughter, climb out a window, and run back to the car with her. No. Not only does Colleen have to walk patiently into the school, she has to take Abby with her so Abby can visit her friend, Nurse Tina in the nurse's office. A few minutes later I see the three of them walking back to the car, holding hands, and not a hint of panic on their faces.

Somehow....Emma got fed, and Colleen learned all about Stephanie's day at school. I would have given myself two hours to accomplish all of what Colleen did in twenty minutes. Colleen throws me some money and tells me to take them to Dunkin Donuts, get exactly six honey glazed munchkins - 2 for Abby, four for Stephanie. Then drive around the block a couple of times until I see my sister come out. That will keep them occupied I'm told. Stephanie is giving me an exact play by play of what Abby is doing..."Auntie Weary, Abby's trying to feed Emma a munchkin!", luckily all it took was a "No no Abby", and the disaster was over. I drove around the block a couple of times....then the parking lot. Stephanie makes fun of me and asks me to go a different way around the parking lot so its less boring. We start playing "I Spy" and singing along to the songs on the radio (while Abby is dancing in her car seat) to amuse ourselves. Finally, Superwoman comes out and everyone is ok. Colleen has crappy health insurance and was given three very expensive prescriptions she didn't think she could fill. I felt so bad for her that I was more than willing to write a (bad) check for her....but every time I went to take out my checkbook, she told me to put it away. It upsets me that I have really good insurance and maybe see my oncologist and pcp a few times a year, and prescriptions are $10....but someone with three kids and an infection needs to win the lottery to take care of herself and her family!

After all of that I was ready to go to bed and sleep (forever) for the rest of the night. But there was still a lot more to do....feed all three kids and give Abby and Stephanie baths. Stephanie quietly did her homework and I helped her with her math with Emma in my arms and Abby at my feet playing. Colleen somehow manages to cook a full meal in 15 mn. Colleen, Abby and Stephanie interact so sweetly together - Abby and Stephanie share broccoli and after dinner they share popsicles (Abby only likes whatever Stephanie is having so she barely eats her own popsicle). Then Abby and Stephanie work off dinner and chase each other around the house squeeling and yelling. Somehow Emma manages to sleep through everything, not flinching a bit. She must already be used to it.

Emma is so sweet...and so tiny!!!! She's an absolute joy to hold. She drinks her formula like its going out of stlye and sucks on my cheek as I'm trying to burp her. She lets out a big one and Stephanie says, "Auntie, was that you????" She couldn't believe such a big sound came from such a small little girl.

Colleen somehow manages to give Abby a bath, and I hear them laughing and playing while I'm out in the living room with Stephanie and Emma. Abby comes out in her hooded towel and blows everyone kisses good night. Colleen gets militant since Stephanie has to wake up really early for skating (yes, I said SKATING, not school), and tells Stephanie exactly what she needs to wear to bed, that she has to take a bath immediately while she's rocking Abby upstairs, and that there's no playing in the shower, and that she needs to do exactly what Auntie says. I sit in the bathroom while Stephanie takes a shower and of course there's a lot of playing....and singing, and drinking water from the shower head only to open the curtain and SPIT it all over Auntie :) When she gets out, I brush her hair as she says "Ow" every few seconds just to say "Ow". Then she brushes her teeth, gargles mouth wash, spits it on me, and then uses my LIGHT PINK SWEATER as a towel to wipe her face. I look down and the entire front of me is green. I can't help laughing. Stephanie asks me to sit in front of her and she plays hairdresser, telling me she's going to make me beautiful. Another thing I need a miracle for. She carefully does my hair but I say "Ow" every few seconds anyway just to say "Ow." She tells me to get up and look in the mirror. I have a gorgeous sideways pony tail and lot of hair sticking out on the other side....I look like Jack Nicholson on a bad hair day. Now I'm all green with a weird hair do. I'd fit right in at Denny's in the middle of the night. I ask her how I look and she says "beautiful!"

I tucked Stephanie into bed, and she gives me a big hug and kiss. I tell her I'll see her tomorrow and she smiles and says "Really???" and I say "Yep, I'll see you every day." And she smiles wider and says "Every day for the rest of my life???" Unfortunately with ALOT OF REGRET I have to correct her and say "Every day this week honey." She tells me to remember to tie her skates tight tomorrow, and I tell her I promise I will. And then my favorite part, "I love you Auntie Weary."

As I'm leaving I see Collleen in the chair holding Emma out in front of her so they are looking at each other, and she's talking to her in a cute little voice. If I was tired, I can't even imagine how tired she was, but I couldn't tell. She seems to never waste a single second with her kids....she takes the time to show her love for each of them equally, and so sweetly. That's why she has three very special little girls. Never ever do I see any sign of selfishness in her or them, and I know her kids will grow up be kind, loving, talented, wonderful mommies and incredible ladies. Just like my sister.

Like I said, I don't know how my sister does it. And as tired as I am and as crazy as the day was, I had a lot of fun. Being with my nieces is so much fun, and my heart just overfills with love. I know I will be very sad to see the week end. They say money can't buy you happiness, but I know that if I had a lot of money....I would quit my job and spend a lot of time with my nieces. And I would probably be the happiest auntie in the world. And I would sleep better at night if they weren't going without anything....if prescriptions and food could be paid for more easily. I wish I had the means to give them everything they need. But with an empty bank account, its just another dream....along with being my on boss someday and having my own gift basket business.

Well, I have to go bed because I have a strict itinerary in the morning. I have to wake up at 5:30am, take Stephanie to her skating lesson a little bit before 7am, and have her changed and at school promptly at 8:30am. Then a lot of other fun things during the day I'm sure.

"We're very busy right now" my sister says.

Written in April of 2006, submitted for "Mom's Dream Come True" contest.

My twin sister Colleen was born to be a mom. I knew this even in our adolescent years…my sister always had a way with children. She somehow knew how to make them laugh, and knew how to comfort them when they were sad. I remember my sister and I being in a store with our mother, and we saw a little girl crying because she was lost. My sister immediately knelt down to give her a hug, took her hand, and walked around with the little girl until they found her mother. Not only was my sister able to make children smile and laugh, but they also did the same for her. Colleen always seemed to be in her element when she was around children.

Colleen has three wonderful little girls--Stephanie (8 yrs old), Abigail (1 year and six months old), and Emma (born two weeks ago). As difficult as it is to take care of three children, she does it with a great deal of love, patience, and a sense of humor. Her children always come first, and she is heavily involved in the activities at Stephanie’s school (Lancaster Elementary in Salem NH). She volunteers to help Stephanie’s teacher a few days a week, and is always the first to volunteer for and organize bake sales and other events. Several weeks ago before Colleen gave birth to Emma, she was working at the school bake sale (and got Abigail involved too in giving change back to the customers) even though she was having contractions. Whenever my mother and I go to Stephanie’s school, we are always told what an “incredible woman” and “wonderful mother” my sister is. Colleen never seems to waste one minute with her children. She is always reading to them, talking to them about their day, playing with them and taking care of them. She takes the time to show her love for each of them equally, and so sweetly. When Colleen walks into a room, the faces of her children light up like the sky when the sun comes out on a cloudy day.

After Emma was born a few weeks ago, I took a week off to help Colleen with the children. I got to experience first hand what my sister goes through every day. Just to take all three children to the store to buy groceries is a task that needs to be planned carefully. Because Emma has to be fed every two hours, my sister has only a small window of time to accomplish something childless couples like my husband and I take for granted. There was one day during the week where my sister had to pick up Stephanie from school, feed Emma, and get to a doctor appointment, all within twenty minutes. All the way to Stephanie's school, I was telling Colleen it would be impossible, and she assured me it was not. We got to the school and I thought she was going to pull a Mission Impossible and RUN into the school, grab her daughter, climb out a window, and run back to the car with her. No. Not only did Colleen walk patiently into the school, she took Abigail with her so that she could visit her friend, Nurse Tina in the nurse's office. A few minutes later I saw the three of them walking back to the car, holding hands, and not a hint of panic on their faces. Somehow....Emma got fed, and Colleen learned all about Stephanie's day at school. I would have given myself two hours to accomplish all of what Colleen did in twenty minutes.

In order to provide a better quality of life for their children, my sister and her husband purchased a home in Salem NH with a small down payment. They wanted to provide the children with their own back yard to play in, and their own rooms. From the moment they moved in, they had nothing but problems with their home. For some people the problems would be considered small, but since they are living on one income (so Colleen could spend all her time with her children), every problem plunged them deeper and deeper into debt. After they purchased the home, they found out they would need to purchase the land from one of their neighbors in order to do much of anything with the back yard. The cost of the land is a modest amount, but they are not able to purchase it since they live from paycheck to paycheck.

If my sister could have her dream, and if I could help make a wish come true for her, it would be for her to be able to purchase the land for her home, and to have her tiny, cramped kitchen expanded. The kitchen is literally the heart of my sister’s home. It is where Colleen helps Stephanie do her homework, where Emma has her bath, where my sister cooks meals for her children and where they eat dinner together as a family. The kitchen is so tiny that there isn’t enough room for everyone to sit around the table (Colleen’s husband usually stands). I think my sister would also cry if she ever received a dishwasher….she spends a lot of time at the end of the day when the children are finally asleep, washing dishes by hand. I would love to see my sister be able to relax after a long day. Due to the size of her kitchen, luxury appliances like dishwashers are currently not possible.

Colleen is a selfless person and the best mother I know. I know that all mothers are extraordinary, but I am always in awe of my sister and how much she does for her children even though she and her husband struggle financially. Colleen already has part of her dream—her children. The other part of her dream isn’t a lot to hope for, and I know it would mean a lot to her and her family.

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