Playing Aunts and Uncles
Call me 'Mame'
Sean Morris on the joys of being an 'Aunt'
one of my better exes announced that he and his wife were having
a baby. I was thrilled to hear it, naturally, as I am every time
I hear theres a one-in-ten chance another homos on his
or her way. Quite apart from that, I know from experience that they
will be good, solid, open-minded parents, and the world could always
use more of those, couldnt it?
I know my
friends will be especially open-minded because, being a member of this
childs extended family since before the moment of its conception,
one of the first discussions we had was about what the child would call
me. The discussion was mercifully short, as we simultaneously settled
on the only reasonable choice: Auntie Misha. Like me, its both
unique and a modernist gender-fuck, which nevertheless pays tribute
to the only parenting course Ive ever taken, namely repeated viewings
of the film Auntie Mame (1958).
As good and solid and yes, even as open-minded, as my friends will be,
they still insist on living in the suburbs, that bastion of intolerance
from which few adolescent psyches escape unscathed. My friends both
admitted that the child deserved some exposure to downtown, a position
I have gratefully accepted. The raising of a child is an honour any
adult should embrace, should the situation present itself, and its
an honour I have always taken very much to heart.
For a time I was that one special relative to my stepbrothers
kids. In those halcyon days of a decade ago I was Uncle Mike, the one
who had the coolest books, the best toys, and a capacity to listen with
patience and understanding that most parents are just too busy to manage.
When my ex-stepsister-in-law (can you see how tenuously I clung to those
children?) removed them from my life last year I felt a part of me die,
and in a sense a part of me did, for now no one else is ever allowed
to call me Uncle Mike again.
Its pain I know only too well, as during the same time I was also
a stepfather, and when my ex (one of my worst exes) took his two little
girls out of my life it was, if anything, more painful than losing a
nephew and niece it was like losing my own children. My sincerest
hope is that all of these children find their way back to me in time,
an act of defiance on their part that Id like to think I had some
part in fomenting.
Id be lying if I didnt admit to a certain fear that my friends
might do the same thing to me with the child on the way. Living as I
do on a knife-edge of approval at the best of times, I know only too
well the transitory (not to mention conditional) nature of even the
deepest of friendships in this day and age. Opinionated, smutty, and
brash, I may not strike most people as an appropriate adult influence;
indeed, I may strike nothing but fear in the hearts of parents who consider
themselves otherwise tolerant. But in the end its love that makes an
Auntie, the kind of love that was born on the day two cells became four
and four became eight in my ex-boyfriends wifes uterus,
and the same kind of love I still have in abundance today.
On or about October 6th, 2003, my friends lost the beloved baby wed
taken to calling Spot, and so it is to Spot that this piece is lovingly
dedicated. We will meet again.
Michael Sean Morris Ocotber 2003
Rain In Vancouver
On being a Travel Writer
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