Being an aunt

I arrived in NYC on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon, my sister-in-law, Jenn, gave birth to their second daughter, Sadie Claire.

As much as I have loved spending the week in my favorite visiting spot, something is missing. I need to see my nieces! (and my dogs, for the record.)

Years ago I decided I didn’t want children of my own. The reason for this is somewhat simple: I looked at adult couples with children, and adult couples without, and I wanted to be like the ones without. I want to spend my money on clothes for me, not diapers for them, and on traveling, not college funds. I want my spare room to be for guests, not toys.

All that said, I adore children. Always have. Growing up I babysat for all the children in the neighborhood. I kept the nursery at church.

I got the surprise of my life when Kevin and Jenn’s first child, Mia Frances, was born. Surprised that I could be as in love with a child as I am with her. I’ve heard mentions of a mother’s love, and although I’ve never felt it I can understand it. I never expected that the love I felt for Mia would be much different than how I felt for any other child – but wow, what a world of difference.

If I go one day without seeing Mia, I feel a longing for her. Heaven forbid when I am busy with work and can’t make it over there for a couple of weeks. Something is really missing then! She gives the best hugs of anyone I know, and to hear her laugh is the sweetest sound in the world.

This makes me think of my own childhood and the role my aunts have played in helping me become who I am today. I think of my aunt Nancy, who used to let us stay with her family in the summers and whose resemblance to my mom (who I love more than anything) is uncanny. Of my aunt Josie, who I stayed with before I got married and she tucked me in like a child, reminding me of moments with my cousins at her house as my childhood was being formed. Her baked bread and warm laugh will always make me feel at home. Of Mary Ann and Betty, who I think of fondly during holidays. I think of Mary Ann giving hand-me-down from my cousins (brand name!) allowing me cool clothes as a kid. I think of Betty’s menagerie of animals and how she always had something great on VHS for us to watch.

It’s beautiful and scary to know this is now my role. I have tried unsuccessfully to make Josie’s bread and I don’t live on Lake Norman like Nancy did. But when I go to little Mia’s, she puts on my shoes and carries my purse around the house. She rubs my cheek and my hair when I haven’t seen her in a while and my heart melts when she butchers my name (sounds kinda like Missas).

At the beach this summer I held her and said “you’re so pretty!”

“You’re so pretty!” she repeated and hugged my face. It’s during these moments that my heart swells and I know I can have a place in her heart the way my aunts have had in mine.

I write this in a taxi headed to JFK, and as sad as I am to leave NYC, I am estatic to get home, have my dogs snuggle with me tonight and get one of Mia’s famous hugs tomorrow. And I will find out just what little Sadie Claire has in store for my heart.