Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Toot Toot Tooty
Two years ago my sister uprooted herself; she left a once sweet but heading sour relationship, sold her house and moved to Chicago to go back to school. Whew. I was cautious, she admittedly does not handle change well, something I attribute to constant change in her young life, and moving from a house in Kansas City to an apartment in Chicago is change. Leaving a boisterous and supportive circle of friends, some of whom she had known since grade school, is change. Selling your car and relying on public transportation, change. And going back to school, something she had been away from for several years, big change. And here we are two years later: Tooty still down the street, she has an even bigger circle of friends in Chicago (not having lost one of those she left in KC), traipsing around on the CTA as if she knew what she was doing, and still in school, still doing well. Although I have caught her numerous times leaving her apartment unlocked (she is reprimanded) and I make her call me when she gets home (but only when she leaves my apartment, I don't badger her every night), she seems to be adjusting well to this city and this life.
Four years ago I had twins, two babies at one time for Christ's sake. The nurses at the hospital asked " do the grandparents live nearby?". Oh no. People at the market would stop and marvel and say, "you must have help". Oh no. For the most part it was Jack and me and Mary and Kate, Eleanor Roosevelt being of very little help early on. And we were fine, exhausted, but fine, because we knew of nothing else. Friends would say things like "you really need to get out" and I would agree, but how? Friends had grandparents who would watch the babies, we had Eleanor. People suggested we travel without them, great idea but how? You can't board babies and I was not about to leave my children, overnight, with someone I did not know, no way. So we plugged along, finding a sitter here and there who would stay with them once they were in bed, not having much luck finding someone who wanted to take on two 6 months old babies, awake, and alone. People with one baby would often say "I don't know how you do it" but the truth is you just do, without thinking, and you love it, and you don't know any better.
And then Tooty moved to Chicago and life changed, in ways we didn't know were possible. Amidst all her change she found some roots in our little place in that her nieces adore her, and we love having her around. Jack calls her his teenage step daughter, which thankfully she is not; I would not want to pay her cell phone bill. She is just what an auntie should be, silly and fun, and willing to teach them all the things I refuse. Mary knows the name of the princess on her nighttime diaper; I did not and would not teach her that. She gives them ice cream every time she makes them dinner, although they always tell me. She comes over when Jack travels and the four of us have an evening out, just the ladies. We go to Target and I don' t have to drive the boxing ring because Tooty takes a cart, and a child and my day is completely different. In the oddest of coupling, she, and my mother in law, stayed with them for a few days earlier this year while I tagged along on a business trip to California. I had not been without them in almost four years and while I missed them terribly, I knew they were safe and loved and happy.
And while my children gained an auntie, I gained a dear friend who lives just down the street, is usually available to meet at the BOB for burger night and understands my deep need to be with my children, while also understanding that sometimes I need to dash out and get a pedicure in the middle of the afternoon, what luxury.
We are all so grateful she bravely turned her life upside down and landed here in our corner of the world. It's nice to have her around for cheeseballs and toddies on Sunday night.