Monday, September 14, 2015


So a couple weeks ago I celebrated the youngest of the nephews and nieces I helped care for, even as I was becoming an adult myself.  He completed his high school diploma, and as always, the family that loves him and his brother gathered to send words of blessing and encouragement his way as he enters the craziness of adulting.

I had so much I wanted to say to him, even as I stood in front of him, looking into his big brown eyes, remembering him as an infant just borne from his mother's womb.  I don't remember ever seeing him look that happy or be that engaged with everyone that said words of wisdom to him.  He sat, leaning forward in his chair, elbows resting on his knees, maintaining intense eye contact with a smile on his face.  The intensity of his gaze let me know that if he wasn't listening all the other times that I tried to speak into his heart and mind, he truly was this time.

All I could see as I stood there in front of this handsome 18 year old was how he used to giggle when I tickled him and kissed his little cheeks as a baby.  All I could wonder was, is this how real moms feel?  Is this how my mother felt when I graduated high school and entered the world of making my own decisions (good or bad, right or wrong, with her help or without her help)?  I'm not his mother but I am a doggone good aunt that often times wondered if I could have done more.

I am still in awe that these babies that aren't really babies anymore are aged 24, 22, 20, and 18.  How could this be?  How come they can't come visit and stay the whole summer anymore?  How come I can't know where they are at all times and continue to give guidance?  How come they grew up?

It felt surreal standing there taking pictures with these adults, these grown folks, these people with grown-up problems.  All these children (though they are not my only nieces and nephews) were the only ones I was really close to for most of their lives.  My oldest niece, whom wasn't there, has definitely moved on and left the aunt that adored her behind.  She is married and is a mother of four children.  My youngest niece is about to be a mother to a beautiful boy, whom she already cherishes and would give her life for.  My oldest nephew is learning more and more about himself and the world around him and how he fits in that world.  And now, my baby, the youngest nephew is a man now; so much lies head of him and I want the world to open up at his fingertips.

It felt even more surreal as they looked at my little girls, their new little cousins.  My husband and children watched me love these first ones.  And I am sure because of their young ages, my daughters did not realize that in about 15 years, I would probably feel the same way about them - as they spread their wings and go where God would call them to be (I hope).  I will feel that they too have grown up too fast.  I will wonder if I have done everything I could to prepare them for what awaits them outside the home they will grow up in.

In so many ways, even though I did not birth the four that changed my life, I loved my nieces and nephews as my own.  Watching them from this vantage point now leaves me in complete awe.  All I can hope is that they will make the impact on the world that they have made on my heart.  I hope one day they will know how important they were to me and how important they are to the world around them.  They do matter.  More than they can understand right now.  Right now, they may not think their existence matters to anyone but I see them.  I see their future and I am excited about who they will become.

I just hope they don't forget to look back to where they have come from.  I hope they are never ashamed of it.  They will find me standing there, with open arms.