She belonged to me before you. Dibs.
You’re not here yet, but I’m watching you. I see you. Whatever fruit you’re the size of at this point. I want to write this while you still look like a loaf of rising bread in the sonogram photos she sends me, before I’ve had time to be bamboozled by your inevitable visual appeal. Genetics are in your favor, I’ll say that for you. Let us be clear that you are entitled to your arrival and any admiration that follows. But hear me, you baby, I saw her first.
Your mother is my best friend. That won’t mean much to you until you come to understand that I am the one who gives the best presents and always carries mints and gum, but right now it means a whole hell of a lot to me. She is a big part of my life and that doesn’t suddenly change because she fills out her tax forms differently now. You are coming, you are coming for her, and you should know that in me, you have a formidable opponent. I am not giving her up, I am not replacing her. I am simply agreeing to tolerate you.
I met your mother in 2005. Do you realize how long ago that is? “Hollaback Girl” was the most downloaded song of the year. People still had to download songs then for fucks sake. Do you have any idea what kind of lifestyle we were working with? Juicy sweatpants were a thing! It was a time you’re incapable of comprehending. You’ll never know how much gossip internet and bad law school cuisine went into the very foundations of one of my most valued relationships. You have so much catching up to do. Lol, why am I worried. You can’t even compete.
This was always going to happen I suppose, nothing more than a matter of time. I knew when she got married that she’d eventually have children, and I approve of the overall idea. For her, mind you, not myself. If a woman wants to get pooped on and pay for college that’s her business. Family was always the future for her, and it’s certain to be a beautiful development. Even the grumpiest caverns of my psyche can admit to that. I’m even looking forward to it if I’m honest, people tend to gather more frequently during the day when children are involved, which is my strong preference. And I am exactly the kind of person who will get on a plane for a 3rd birthday party in a backyard, you should know this. I love your family, they’re my people of preference. So we have that in common. By the way, if your dad ever gives you any lip, send his ass to me.
I knew you were inevitable, I just didn’t know when you’d show up. I didn’t know how many years of her I’d have without you. Now I know. While I won’t say I’ve had my fill, I’ve had plenty. And I’ll get her back eventually. The Golden Girls-style life we envision for our later years is not, in any way, hypothetical. I fully intend to live next door to your mother in homes with adjoining back yards and lounging pools and I understand that she will consider my closet space to simply be her overflow clothing storage. (A word of advice, don’t fucking touch her clothes, and if you damage anything, run.) Be sure to keep me up to date on your growing independence, I’d also love to have a timeline for when she and I hanging out doesn’t require childcare of any kind. What are we thinking? Thirteen years from now or so? I’ll wait.
To be clear, I love you. Right now you probably resemble a sweet potato with forming veins but I can tell we’re going to get a long just fine. I don’t have a problem with Libras. I myself don’t want children, and while I wouldn’t say I’ll be living motherhood vicariously through your mom, I will say I’ll be fully living the aunty life through me. I apologize in advance for the random Amazon deliveries you’ll receive from Shani Aunty for the rest of your natural life. If you don’t like them, trade with someone at school. Make a friend. Also recycle the boxes please.
Be good to her. Behave yourself. I can’t fathom anything coming out of her mouth that qualifies as anything less than wisdom so if she gives you a command — dammit, you obey. She knows what she’s doing and she’s got a better handle on being a good person than anyone I’ve ever met and certainly more than anyone you’ve ever met because as we’ve discussed, you’re new at this. Learn from her, learn from a professional. And if you ever throw a party while she is out of town know that it was a pleasure knowing you, it really was.
I’m on her team, to be clear. Before you charm me with your fat little fingers and baby giggles I need you to know that I’m loyal. I’ll not betray her, no matter what kind of infant sorcerery you perform on me. I’m tough! You can try to play both sides against the middle but your mother and I invented winning fights so don’t you try your freshman shit on us. I will take her side in every argument, even if I agree with you a little bit more. You don’t yet know the value of picking your battles and kid, you’ll have to figure that out the hard way. She and I will watch, and we shall laugh. Like it or not your presence on this planet will entertain us, that is the fee you shall pay for laying claim to so much of the time and attention that have sustained me these 15 years. This is our world, you hear me? You’re just eating strained carrots in it.
I know you’re coming. I know you’re going to change everything. But seeing as how you’re coming out of her, I suppose that change is for the better. Just remember who has seniority here. I’m not about to give her up, even for something as cute and full of potential as you’re genetically certain to be. So come on then, baby. Come join us here on earth. I’ll allow it. I’ve been expecting you.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, a lot.