My sisters, my stunt doubles.
I am lucky enough to have two sisters. They're my best friends. They're as important to me as my two legs. I call us a tripod, because the three of us make up one another and without one of us, we wouldn't be who we are. My older sister, Lindsey, had twins 8 years ago and I realized the love I had for these two humans she brought into this world was nothing like I had ever felt before. I also recognized just how much I admired and looked up to her even more, seeing her in this new role as a mother. I can't wait to see my younger sister, Katy, take on that same role. Becoming an aunt is just as life changing (in an entirely different way) as becoming a mom. Yes, its ten times easier, the love you feel is different, but it's still life changing because you experience a love that you really have never felt. For me, it may have felt more so because I wasn't a mom yet, so it was my first glimpse at loving a baby in this, "I will go to the end of the earth and step in front of a bullet for this still non verbal poop machine" way.
Not only that, but the attachment that her children felt toward me as soon as I met them, was clear. It reminds me of a meeting I had yesterday with a former colleague of mine, Renee Bock, she was discussing how the pet rabbit at her school, Preschool of the Arts, impacted the children. How one teacher, in particular, had formed an attachment with the rabbit, and how that teacher's students, had a closer relationship and appreciation for the rabbit that was different than the other children. Attachment transfers. I truly believe that. Its even instinctual for animals.Being an aunt is another real look at this. The closer you are to someone else, transfers to your baby. Your baby feels your trust, closeness and love that you have for another and, in turn, that person in your life exhibits that fondness to your baby and the relationship transcends. I know this sounds abstract and philosophical but its such an interesting concept and is never more apparent to me than when I see my sisters with Tess. They live in a different state than me, and my daughter, who is more particular about her squad than Mean Girls, just openly goes to them no matter how much time has passed.
At around 3 months old, Tess started to experience separation anxiety. No one could hold her besides me and I was so confused why she was experiencing this so young. In my entire 12 year career with babies, I had never seen such a young baby affected by separation like this. I googled it and realized it wasn't necessarily me, but it was the way I handled her and touched her, and the way I smelled that may not be quite like anyone else. She was too young to really "know" me, so it had to be these nuanced ways she had grown accustomed to me. I was really overwhelmed and couldn't delegate or have anyone help me when I was in Florida for my sisters wedding and had to be apart from her. She just cried hysterically. Until one of my sisters held her. They were the only ones who could without Tess screaming her head off. I realized that a sister is like an extension of yourself. A sister is really THAT close to you.
This brings up the importance of family but also the importance of touch. In an article recently published in the NY Times titled "What Babies Know About Their Bodies and Themselves" they discuss that “before humans have language, they have the language of touch, they communicate through the language of touch." In RIE Practitioner Ruth Anne Hammond's book "Respecting Babies" she talks about this concept when she says "the way we adults handle infants tells them so much about our attitude toward them...because we represent their world in the beginning and we are their primary link to the rest of it." She even states that "How human culture is first conveyed to infants is quite literally in our hands" and it can't ring more true to me than when I think of my sisters and how they are truly parts of me. I'll be writing a more in depth post about the power of touch with young babies, but today, I want to just say:
Happy Birthday Linds, and thanks for being my stunt double when I needed it most.