The wait continues for this adoptive-parent-in-waiting.
Today is the second birthday of one of my nieces – a sweet, smart, spunky, wonderful little girl who I love like crazy. My heart is full of love, and I can’t wait to see her later today, to watch her smush some delicious cupcake into her adorable face.
I’ve written a lot about the woes of waiting to be a parent, but there’s an interesting upside to the way my life has panned out so far: it is tremendously awesome to be an aunt, and (I think) it is really, really cool to be an aunt before you’re a parent.
I’ve thought about this a lot, ever since my brother’s first child was born. That little one has seriously one of my best friends and one of my favorite things in the universe. (Still is.) (And yes, I am talking about having a toddler as a best friend. I’ve had several; they’re awesome.) I have loved baby-sitting for my nephew and my three nieces, and when we’re at a family gathering, my tendency is to drop everything else the moment one of them is looking for a playmate. Tee and I act similarly with all our honorary nieces and nephews, too – the children of dear friends, of whom there are many, who we love to tickle and snuggle and with whom we’ve played thousands of games of Birthday and Horsey.
Ever since we’ve been waiting for Our Baby, I’ve been thinking about what it will be like when Our Baby is part of these gatherings with family and friends. Will I not be able to play as freely and reliably as I have been before? Tee and I will be taking care of Our Baby, and then Our Babies, and while we’ll still love our little nephews and nieces like CRAZY, they won’t be the only little ones filling up space in our hearts, the way they have been for the past few years.
All of these musings have helped me to realized how awesome it is to be an aunt (or uncle) before you’re a mom or dad. Being an aunt is insanely awesome, no matter what. But those of us who get to do so before parenting ourselves have a special kind of experience that I’m grateful for. (I imagine it’s similar for people who don’t have kids, nor have any intention of having kids, but I can only speak for me!) Often people will talk about the awesomeness of being able to play with small children and then send them back to their parents when they get cranky; this is not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is feeling your heart crazy-full of love for a tiny little one on the day he’s born, loving them like you never thought possible – and then, maybe years later, having your own child and getting knocked over yet again by the force of how much you can love a child.
They’re both awesome, amazing loves. But I can’t imagine it being the same for someone who is a parent first. You’ll still love your nieces and your nephews in a uniquely wonderful way – but, you’ll be experiencing that love having already experienced the knock-you-on-your-ass love of being a parent.
It feels a little funny to voice these kinds of thoughts – comparing different relationships and different kinds of love. We’re not supposed to do that, right? But sometimes I can’t help it.
With the adoption wait, it’s hard not to throw myself pity parties every once in a while, so it’s good when I can identify things I am grateful for. And I am extremely grateful for all the aunting I’ve been able to do, especially since it will help me to be a better mommy to Our Baby.