I got a call one Sunday morning at about 8AM. "We're in labor! We're on our way to the hospital!"
So I started planning. Not that I didn't have 9 months to plan. Not that I didn't shower my SIL with a maternity something or other (Ummm, do you have a bag that doesn't say "I Just Bought Something at a Maternity Store" on it? This is awkward. I have to walk around with this bag. I am not pregnant. Ummm hello?), and debate names with the parents-to-be (I did have opinions for better or worse, and I love the name they chose), and stared in awe at the sonogram pics (there's my little lima bean!)
But nothing had truly prepared me.
When you nominate yourself for the SavvyAuntie.com Beta program, you are encouraged to give us 250 characters as to why you are a Savvy Auntie. One 20-something New York City Auntie wrote:
"People always tell mothers that having children will change their lives but nobody tells the aunts that their lives will change too. I would do ANYTHING for my 3 nephews and niece. I love them more than I thought I could love anything or anyone."
Nothing prepared me for walking into the hospital room and seeing my brother, whom I have always loved, but now, at this moment, loved more deeply that I could have imagined, as he held his baby boy. A teeny tiny little boy - who all of a sudden looked exactly like my dear brother - would I have know him at one-hour. I cast my eyes on my baby nephew, my first. My generous SIL let me hold him, actually encouraged me to hold him, just a few minutes later. My emotions were so deep. Our mother had passed away a number of years before, and so I held him for her too. Grandmother and Aunt holding baby boy. "Nobody tells the aunts that their lives will change too." But my life had changed.
From that moment on, I become "Auntie Melanie." I wanted my nephew to know that I was not just a grown-up playmate who came to visit and play. I was his family. I was someone he could always depend on. Someone who would always be there for him. Someone who loved him without ever needing anything from him in return.
Poor kid. I didn't let it go. At too young an age, I explained to him that I was his daddy's sister; I was his family. I tried to make him repeat it, failing every time. And then one day, one random fall day, he turned to me at just 2 years and exclaimed, as if I didn't know myself: "Auntie Melanie! We're family!" That breakthrough moment was followed by a big hug. And the love we have shared from that moment on has been the greatest love of all (along with the love of his sisters.)
That night, I went home and wrote a little book called: "Auntie and Me - We are Family." It will be published one day soon. In the meantime, I was still a beauty executive: editor of a glossy magazine and running internet and intranet sites. I was too busy doing the corporate thing to focus on the children's book.
But when I left the corporate life in the winter of 2006, I refocused on the book. And then I saw a need for more than just a book (plus my potential agent said I needed a 'platform' - I needed to be 'somebody' - in order to get the book published) and I thought about an online community for Aunts. And then I did the research (to come in a later post) and said: "Whoa! I'm not the only one!"
That was June 2007. And here we are, as I am about to give birth to SavvyAuntie.com, and I am now an Auntie many times over - not just to my sibling's kids, but to everyone in my community who knows me as Auntie Melanie. And I am an entrepreneur.
Nothing prepares you to be an Auntie. I'm not sure there isn't much to prepare you to be an entrepreneur. But everything in my life has prepared me for this moment; right here and right now. Everything has prepared me to launch an online community in honor of my nephew and nieces and in celebration of everyone else's. This, right here, right now, is the proudest and happiest time of my life. And I am proud and so very happy, to have you, dear Readers, right here to experience it along with me.
At least that's the plan.