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It’s a … Family

17w5d – The big a-ha! over this Thanksgiving week is one I am—surprise, surprise—significantly grateful for. The Mister and I had the distinct pleasure of hosting my entire immediate kin and much of his, 14 in all. Half stayed with us for the week, which meant I got to get intimately reacquainted with the delicious patterns of being both the kid sister and the big sister, the first daughter, the middle child, the daughter-in-law, the sister-in-law, the hostess and, now, the bearer of the first grandbaby on my side. (I can be a little smug over that last one, right?)

Holidays are all about balancing our childhood roles with our grownup selves. And ugh, how those can clash and yet seem perfectly synchronous: I am still a nervous mix of overbearing and all-too sensitive; I don’t listen as well as I should even now, when my time with these people I adore with abandon is so terribly limited. I fall too quickly into cranky habits I berate myself for hours, days later, and then I sob in the driver’s seat like a scorned toddler as my parents and siblings finally push through the Departures revolving door, still waving goodbye back at me.

But as I pulled away from the airport curb this morning, eyes stinging, still sniffling, I thought of how eight of us stayed up well past midnight the evening before, collaborating on a jigsaw puzzle and singing—badly, loudly—along with the West Side Story soundtrack. Between interludes, I tossed out baby name contender decoys, and we all laughed over unfortunate potential nicknames until my mother-in-law nearly choked. You call him JoJo and I’ll reserve a street corner for me and him and an organ grinder, and he can dance in a little hat and vest—we’ll be rich!

Driving home, I thought of how my family made me feel, for a full week, exactly like how I always feel at the holidays: giddy, love-struck, prickly. But they also made me feel like, in being pregnant, that I was undertaking something magical for all of us.

I think that this past week was the happiest I’ve been since we’ve learned of this baby, my conflicting selves and all. I spent every day with the people who have helped me become the me I am now; I whispered every night with the guy I love most in the world about the characters this new baby will play in his or her own life. Trite as it sounds, it finally occurred to me that The Mister and I are not just having a baby, we’re making a family. Our family. Our own wacky unit to shape and shepherd until this child, too, becomes some weirdo adult who loves his or her own family ferociously.

One can only hope.