On Emma Elizabeth and Aunthood

19 Jan

On Wednesday, January 15th, my beautiful niece Emma Elizabeth was born. I think it goes without saying that I’m excited about her arrival, but to be completely honest, my strong emotional reaction to her birth has been one that I wasn’t expecting. It’s taken me by surprise, and I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few days trying to determine why.

At first I thought it was maybe just the pure joy I feel for her parents. My brother-in-law and his wife have waited a long time for Emma. To see them so happy and to finally have their dream come true is incredible. I dare you to watch their tribute video and not tear up with happiness. Go on, I dare you.

As elated as I am for them, though, that doesn’t quite capture everything I’ve been feeling.

Then maybe I thought it was because of all of the adorable pink outfits she’s been wearing. It’s no secret that while I love both of my boys dearly, I still want a little girl someday. And, yes, seeing her in all her pink-clad adorableness does remind me of the daughter-shaped hole in my heart, but there’s something more than that, too.

After much contemplation, I think I’ve finally figured out what it is.

I’ve always had a naive and perhaps childish vision of what a family is. It’s a Hollywood-style of family that is always there for each other. The kind that goes to every baseball game, every school play, every everything to show support for each other. The kind that gives each other advice and babysitters and shit when it’s well-deserved. It’s what makes me love the show Parenthood so much (see my underrated entry here). When I reflect on my own childhood, it’s filled with these ideal images of family. I had cousins who were like siblings and an aunt who was like a second mother. We were loud and overbearing and we shared a fierce bond. We were entwined in each others’ lives in a way that seemed inseparable, until we weren’t. I’m told now, as an adult, that the problems were always there and that I was just too young to see them. Maybe that’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that the picturesque family I remember was real to me in those moments.

I’ve always wanted a large family, a close family, that family, and I want it now for my own children. I want them to have cousins who are like siblings and aunts and uncles who are like second parents to them. Furthermore, I want to be that second parent to someone. As my children’s first in-state cousin (the others are in Texas, which makes smothering with love rather difficult), Emma might be the start of that. I so hope that she is the start of that.

I’m fortunate in that I love my brother-in-law and his wife as though they were my own siblings. I’m now even more fortunate to have a niece to love as well. I decided before she was even born to be the Best Aunt Ever. It will be hard because she has two aunts on her mom’s side that are going to be fighting for that title, but damn if I won’t try to clinch it. I will love and adore that little girl and you bet your ass I am going to spoil her. Rotten. To sort-of-quote my Friend Monica, “Hi Emma. I’m your aunt Andrea. I will always have gum.”

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