Sunday, April 27, 2008

This is the Plan.

Dear Readers,

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 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, 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.

Auntie Melanie


  1. Congrats Auntie Melanie!

    Great news from the home front and bravo to the happy new parents...

    Keep blogging away- L O V E reading your posts...

    Uncle Tyson

  2. Thanks, Tyson! Actually, I didn't make it clear; I was recalling my first nephew's birth a few years ago. I was , trying not to be too specific about years in order to respect his age/privacy. But thanks - as he is just one of many - and I did become an Auntie again and again and again etc.... etc... :-)

  3. He's "one of many," but also "one in a million," right? Now that I've got two, I see how that works. Older nephew and I totally had a blast over Pesach, and baby neph and I had fun too...he's so sweet, and his little baby head smells so good.


    Doda Esther

  4. I still say, being an Auntie was one of the turning points in my life. I was a bit of a wild child while I was in college and all of a sudden I had this beautiful little girl for a niece and found myself staying home on weekends so I could babysit. I would actually just come pick her up (like as young as 6 months), and take her out for the afternoon just because. I was in love! I learned how to parent that way and I know I'm a better mom now because of it! I need to get my daughter's godmother on here, she is just like me, the doting auntie by choice. She even started a college fund for my daughter!

  5. I too remember when I first became an auntie - it was a little over 7 years ago when I was a sophomore in college. This was the first baby of the generation and we were all SO excited :-) I think the birth of my first niece started my massive consumption of baby clothes and products - it hasn't trailed off much since! My nieces will always have a special place in my heart and life, and I try to keep our relationship just as fun and special as I did before I had kids myself. I learned more about babies and toddlers from my nieces than I ever have from a parenting book! I always thank my sister for testing everything out for me :-)

  6. These comments are so inspiring to me!! They make me remember why I am spending my days and nights working to develop the best possible community for Aunts, Godmothers, and all women who adore kids. WOW. Am I excited!

    I too believe that I will be a better-prepared mom one day because of my relationship with my nephew and nieces. Well, let's hope anyway!

  7. Your posts touch a very special thing in my heart, both in pursuing your dreams, and your love of being an Aunt. I've always felt like I have an entrepreneurial mindset, yet I have let fear of failure hold me down. Your posts lately have inspired me SO much. I've been walking the line of commitment to jumping in, and these have inspired me to go for it! I relate SO much to loving being an Aunt. I was there in the delivery room when my oldest nephew was born, and I've learned so much from them, and I feel now that I am a mother, that I am such a better mother for being their Aunt (which I'm sure you will experience when you become a mommy one day). When I was pregnant, my husband and I moved across country so that I could be near them (and my sister), and we live just a few houses down! I spend every day with them, and I'm so excited for my daughter to grow up with her cousins near by. Oh, and they call me "Tootie"! My sister thought Aunt Carrington was too long! Thank you so much for sharing your journey, you have deeply inspired me.

  8. What a beautiful moment, Melanie. Thank you for sharing it with us! I remember becoming an Auntie for the first time, too... I was actually in the delivery room with my SIL and brother, taking pictures of the event. Right before my SIL pushed my little niece out, I remember thinking, "I am witnessing the beginning of a LIFE!" I was blown away. Now I look at that niece, who is 7 years old, and am amazed that I have had the honor to literally watch her grow before my eyes. And now there have been 6 more nieces and nephews, and two more on the way... all of them amazing miracles. I feel quite lucky to be Auntie Janie!

  9. Again, Aunties... it is you who inspire ME. Thank YOU!

  10. Melanie - Since there's still not a (I did a new mag/site for cool Dads today), I'll just ignore the fact that I'm not a Savvy Auntie and post here anyway. Whether we're aunts or uncles we're all kindred spirits in being cool to our nieces and nephews. ;-)

    I love your stories and appreciate what you're building. Watching your story unfold on Twitter (and on this blog) has been a lot of fun and I find myself looking forward to next chapter (and the next). Keep it up!

    Now a quick story... one of my nieces is a notoriously picky eater. For some reason, I'm able to break through with her and get her to try new things. Today I was cooking fresh linguine for dinner and she said to me "I don't like that kind." We talked about what pasta is made from (flour, eggs, water), how it's made (pushed though different shapes) and how it's cooked (in most cases boiled in water). We agreed to give the linguine a try and she loved it. Next up: we're going to get together and make some fresh pasta so she has a really good sense of what it is she's eating.

    Whether it's with my girls or my nieces (I don't have any nephews yet!), letting them explore in the kitchen is the secret to a healthy relationship with food.


    p.s. my girls LOVE artichokes!

  11. Hi Jim! I love that story about teaching your nieces good eating habits and to love food. Seems kids are far more logical than we give them credit for! But what I love about your story is how dedicated you are as an uncle to help your nieces discover new things, and then take the time to delve into the subject - like making pasta from scratch -something most Aunties - let along Uncles would never dare to try.

    As far as the artichokes are concerned, you've make me hungry. Next time I make pasta, I throw some of those in the mix. And I'll smile thinking of Uncle Jim and his nieces. Thanks for sharing.


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