My niece, a high school senior, called the other night, nearly beside herself with excitement at the news she had just received. She had been accepted to her first choice college.
“Woo hoo!!”, I cheered. “I am so glad for you! Congratulations!”
After I hung up the phone, I thought, “This is so great! That is exactly where she wanted to go!”
To a college on the east coast. And we live on the west coast. That is so….great.
Kids are supposed to grow up, fly away, spread their wings, be free.
Apparently, I have been in denial. I mean, the girl is in her SENIOR YEAR. That means she will GRADUATE and then she will go to COLLEGE. I guess this means my nephew, who is also in his SENIOR YEAR, will head out into the world soon, too, right?
When did this happen? They just grew up, without even asking my permission? It’s rather annoying.
I have 5 nieces and a nephew. For a long time, I considered them “my kids”, since I had made the decision not to have kids of my own. My siblings were extremely generous in letting me be a part of their children’s lives. When the kids were asked who their favorite auntie was, they all answered my name. If they couldn’t talk yet, they simply pointed in my direction. I taught them well.
This niece who is graduating was born at a time in my life when it was just me (I know, can you believe it?!), no boyfriend/husband, no kids, only a couple of birds and a fish for pets. I had time back then. So, I asked my sister, “Can I take her here? Or there?” And my sister replied, “You can take her ANYWHERE!” And off we went.
This girl, oh, this girl! I called her Small Girlfriend. We went on all kinds of adventures together. She was up for anything. At the end of a busy, fun-filled day, I’d tell her I was taking her home and she would burst into tears. Not because she didn’t like her home, she was just always ready for the next big adventure. And I was always ready for her.
When I changed my mind about being childless and had my boy, he naturally became my priority and I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to the nieces and nephew. Also, they were busy doing that growing up thing and, naturally, were branching out on their own and spending more time with their friends and school activities. Still, it didn’t change how I felt about them: I thought of them every day. When we had family gatherings, I loved talking to them. I loved hearing the things they had to say. The young people they have become, well, it is simply amazing to see.
And now this niece is venturing out into that big world, moving far away. She won’t be at every family gathering. I miss her already. But it is as it should be, I know. My older niece is in her second year of college and she lived to tell the tale. This is going to keep happening: the orange-headed niece will fly free in a couple years, the blonde-haired niece is in middle school, although I don’t know how that can be, since she was just turning 2 the other day. And of course, it reminds me that my own boy, the youngest, will be where his cousins are in the blink of an eye, if I dare to blink. I need to adjust. I will.
Fly away, my dear, sweet niece. Spread your wings. Be free.
See ya back at the nest, every now and again.
“But love is letting go, and this I know…You were mine, for a time.”