Before I was a wife, and long before I became a mother, I was an aunt. In 2001, when I was just 18 years old, my first nephew, Jacob, was born. Two years later came Matt and then after another two years, Ally came along. These three were my first babies. They weren’t my own and aside from the occasional night of babysitting, I was never the one who had to feed them or put them to bed at night. But in every sense of the word, they were (and are) mine. These kids were my first foray into the area of loving someone more than myself. When my brother remarried in 2011, sweet Chloe came into the family and just last year, my sister gave birth to our precious little Lilly (known as Wiwee in our household). They are wonderful, beautiful children and I am so proud of them.
When I married Colin in 2007, I was blessed to be joining an amazing family and in the process, I gained two more nieces and another nephew, Avery, Emma Kate, and Chase. Over the years, more babies have been born and the total on that side of my family is up to three nieces and three nephews with the births of Jackson, Aria, and Ethan. These kids are all amazing as well. They are adventurous, sweet, and just plain fun to be around.
With so many nieces and nephews, things are never dull. The holidays are amazing. I’ve celebrated Christmas by watching mermaids swimming in the pool of a rented beach house, model helicopters flying into the sides of hills, and babies crawling over one another. I’ve been to Chuck E. Cheese more times than I care to remember. When Matt was a baby, I distinctly remember swearing I would never have children of my own after I was pooped on, puked all over, and then forced to sit in a chair rocking a colicky baby all night. But you know what? Those memories are so sweet to me now. I love all of these kids more than anything. With their births, my heart grew and I saw firsthand that there is a God and that he performs these tiny little miracles.
Aside from what they mean to me, I am so happy that my own kids have them to share their childhood with. Growing up, my own cousins were my playmates, my co-conspirators, and often my sworn enemies. We played, we fought, and then we grew up. My best friends and closest confidants are now those same cousins. I hope that my children will experience this same closeness with my nieces and nephews. Even with all of their differences, they are cut from the same cloth and share something that they will have with no one else in the world. They are family and they share that bond. We live far away from all of my nieces and nephews, but still manage to see them fairly frequently. My fervent wish is that they will all know the joy of long summer days and exciting Christmas mornings with their cousins.
As I type this post, I am sitting at the airport in Houston on my way to Cincinnati to pick up Jake, Matt, and Ally. They are coming to spend a week with us and I am as excited as a kid in an amusement park. Since we’ve been planning the trip, I’ve had a number of people look at me like I am crazy. Colin will be working all week and it will just be me at home with all five kids. Others can’t believe that this is a good idea and that I’m looking forward to it. Honestly, though, I can’t think of another thing I’d rather be doing! They are such easy, good children to spend time with and Ian is so excited that they are coming. I cannot wait to see them all and spend some good quality time showing them around Houston. So wish me luck! This excited aunt is off to meet three excited kids!