And for the coming time period it is going to remain full to overflowing - both privately and professionally.
The first thing I had to do for the new year was outside of work: introducing my niece and nephew to Stacy for the first time. My sister-in-law had been preparing them over the last few weeks whenever the opportunity came up to talk about it with them. Whether that was a comment from my niece about girls and boys, she is in the age group where she is noticing the difference between the girls and boys and noticing what is expected of both, and when something to do with gender was on TV. The fact that in the Netherlands we have some great programming about various aspects of the human condition, and I really mean great - just a presenter talking to and following people in their day to day life rather than something more sensationalised, meant that there was something that she could discuss with my niece before actually telling her about me specifically.
Then on Sunday night she told them about me and that on the following Tuesday, the day we always go and visit, that Aunty Stacy would be coming. My nephew is a little too young to get it, but my niece, after cracking up, apparently just said 'Yeah, I have three aunts now!'
On Tuesday evening Mrs Stace and I arrived and at first my nephew was a little 'eh?' and my niece again cracked up. But after a couple of minutes they both came around and my nephew came up to me for a hug as he normally does when we arrive. We spent the evening before dinner doing jigsaws on the floor and talking. She thought I looked funny, and was asking if I was in Mrs Staces clothes or if they were my own - she seemed quite impressed that I was in my own wardrobe :p She also asked, just to show how early these things get ingrained, if I was going to get my ears pierced, and if I was going to get my nails painted. My ears were pierced last weekend, and last week I did have my nails painted - not something I do very often - and she exclaimed 'Oh, you are a real girl!' I had to laugh at that.
What I was really surprised at was how much she tried to get my name right. After talking to my therapist we had decided that we were not going to correct the kids. There is enough of a change with me without forcing them to call me something different. Once all of the adults start calling me Stacy they will follow in time, and it will be less traumatic for them. But my niece was trying from the start to call me 'Tante Stacy', and the name change itself was actually the easiest for her. There were a few 'Oom Stacy' moments throughout the evening - I find it interesting that she found the name easier than the switch from uncle to aunt - but she corrected herself every single time.
After eating we helped put the kids to bed and as I gave her a hug good night I got a really sweet 'Ik vind je heel lief tante Stacy', roughly translated as 'I think your really sweet aunty Stacy', whispered in my ear. Ahh... :)
I don't think I could have wished for it to go better...