Nov 2, 2014

I am an aunt

Today I went for my cousin's baby's first-month celebration.

I wore an electric blue dress. This was the second time I wore this dress - the first time I wore it was in this same house, the day she got married. My brother and I happened to be somewhat colour-coordinated again. We stood at the porch, bracing ourselves for all the aunts we were supposed to greet, and we mused about how in ten years' time, this was going to be us. In ten years' time I'd be 31 and he'd be 27, and the baby showers and weddings would be for our own friends (and hopefully ourselves). My aunt despaired that none of my cousins were going to be doctors. My family sat at a table and talked about that morality course I did and the expectations of working life. My brother and I traded stories of the week in hushed tones, away from the crowd. On the way back we shared music, Ed Sheeran and Charlie Lim.

She still looks and talks like a university student, which makes me nervous. I'm supposed to pass through this ritual, too, not too long from now. Her friends were there, other young people with babies, and I thought: will that also be us in ten years' time? My Council friends and me, my college classmates and me, gathered round in a house with our kids running into table corners and demanding to see the koi in the pond? Who the heck are we going to marry?! Roi, Welly, Abi, Emme - where will we be, and whose rings will be around our fingers? Will Alex and Geri still be together, and together for life? (Please get married, y'all are so sweet)

And will we remember these days, too, the 7ams on the bleachers sleeping on our schoolbags with our skirts too long and our hair too neat; the days we watched the football boys practice and mused about how love was a war and "we are veterans"; the days my friends skipped lunch break to hold me as I cried. The late nights in bedrooms and common lounges talking about Aristotle and morality and life; the 4ams we discussed theology and cried and prayed; the days we tried to use words bigger than ourselves, and the days we jumped on bouncing castles. The days we travelled, a bunch of schoolmates sharing our love stories in a Greek bar and lying on a Greek pavement to look at the Greek night sky. I think about New York and the first memory that comes to mind is of the night I missed my flight - me screaming falling flying towards carnival lights and Sabri laughing the most carefree laugh.

Will we look back and think of ourselves as kids? Kids trying to be all grown-up with grown-up philosophy, kids talking about Marx's fetishism of the commodity and the tyranny of bureaucracy like we understand this society, arguing for/against feminism in lengthy scribbles in the lift, kids puking in the corridor, kids falling in and out of infatuation. I have the habit of thinking of my past selves as far more immature, perhaps because I change and learn so much each year. But I also always think I'm stronger than I really am, more mature and disciplined, and I fall to the bottom and remember we are only human, we are still in many ways children.

Will we ever feel 'ready'? Will we feel ready to bring up another life, to wipe a child's ass and chide him for biting his fingernails, to explain why the sky is blue and why we should share our toys and why we cannot eat too much chocolate. Will we ever feel ready? I guess many people are never ready enough. Parents are also kids. Parents are also navigating a new world. We are always incomplete, inadequate. We will sit around cut fruits and cookies and our own children will befriend one another and we will fight with the person we're supposed to live with for a lifetime. We will throw things and words around. We will share our parenting woes and we won't know what to do. And there will come the day our children realise we are also only human, just like them. They will become disenchanted, and we will feel like we've failed.

When I'm married and my kids are teenagers will I look back at this and laugh at myself? I enjoy reading my primary school diary entries, that's for sure, and I'm quite ashamed at the weird kid I used to be but I still am one; I still say stupid things and dream stupid things. Also, I want to be a taxi driver, but I have to be at least 25. I want to travel. I hope I travel. I wonder if one day I'll be able to think of myself without deriding the immaturity of all my previous years, accept that we learn by trial and error, through elimination and scraped knees.

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