The thought occurs to me when I see my mother/mother-in-law allowing my children to do things that they perhaps (read: never, not ever not in a zillion years) would not have allowed their own children to do - and that is that I think one of my favorite hats ever will stay on and in place.

That seems cryptic. Let me explain....

Most people wear a lot of hats, right? Work hat, parent hat, daughter hat, volunteer hat, etc... but as you age/change, your hats change along with life. Perhaps you upgrade your work hat, (trade in that ol' ball cap for a jaunty little hat with a feather) or your volunteer hat changes as your volunteering commitments change. I think the parent hat changes as well, because although as long as you have kids you will always be a parent - its different, in many ways, being a parent of a baby than it is being a parent of a 22-year old. (Parents with babies wear hats that are barely-on-their-sleep-deprived heads, probably stuck there only because they have a diaper pin actually holding it to their skull. Parents of 22-year olds wear giganto-floppy sun hats that are classy, go with every outfit and draw attention away from the wrinkles on the face.)

Are you following me so far?


So, one of my most favorite hats for the last 19 years has been the "auntie" hat.

When I met my (now) husband, he already had a niece and a nephew and upon my first look at those two I was done. Toast. I was like a lab puppy - tail wagging, peeing everywhere, making random circles with my body. My husband was holding me back by my belt loops reminding me, "You have to go slow. You'll scare them..." until eventually they just let me free and all hell broke loose until I wormed my way into those kids' hearts.

With the addition of every niece and every nephew since that point - nothing has really changed. I still throw bodies on my way to get to new babies. I still pick them up and hold them way past the age where their parents are holding them anymore. I still sneak them forbidden snacks and buy them things their parents don't want them to own.

That is my auntie hat and I wear it shamelessly.

As my nieces and nephews grow older and my sisters and sisters-in-law refuse to produce me anymore babies, I am refusing to change even one teensy thing about my auntie hat. I like this hat. I'm attached to this hat and I will wear it proudly until ...forever.

And do you want to know something else about this hat? This funky hat (picture a Facinator with an ostrich plume) tells me that whenever I hit the point (please dear Jesus not anytime soon) in my life where I get to wear a Grandma hat - I think it'll look much like my auntie hat. I think I'll allow things that I didn't allow with my own kids.

My auntie hat tells me - this is how I'll roll.

The fashion of your auntie hat, I think, predicts the style of your Grandma hat.

My mom acted differently with my cousins than she did with my sisters and I. I remember I used to see her engaging with them and think, why does it seem like you're so much more fun with those people than you are with us?

It was a different hat.

I know that now.

Which is the same reason she talks to my kids IN CHURCH but if my sisters and I so much as whispered, "you're stupid" in the quietest mouse-whisper - we were met with evil glares and unspoken promises of imminent death.

In turn, I do not now, nor have I ever let my kids think it was okay to talk in church but when my niece loudly asks, "is it done yet?" during Mass - I laugh out loud.

Had it been my own child = mortifying.

Niece or nephew = hilariously innocent.

So, wear your hats. Wear them all. Wear them proudly. And realize that even though some hats may change entirely or change style - sometimes one hat can predict another hat of the future.

After all, those of us with a pension for toeing-the-line with our fashion don't tend to get more tame with age. We just trade out one oooooh,-are-you-sure-you-want-to-wear-that-in-public kind of hat for another of a different color.