As many of you know, I don’t have kids. It’s a decision that my husband and I made while we were dating. Although it was a difficult decision, it’s not one I’ve even had the chance to forget. One of the reasons is this: I’m a pretty awesome “Auntie.”
Almost eight years ago, our friends were blessed with a little girl and asked us to be “god parents.” Essentially, we were called upon to be in her life and help raise her in a loving, Godly way. I remember holding her at my wedding and thinking, “Am I sure I don’t want to be a mom?” But from that very start of my marriage, children have played a role in my life – enough that I feel God had a plan from the very beginning.
Now, my husband and I “co-parent” for several kids and it’s so helpful to the parents in many situations. In no way are we their actual parents, but we can guide, show love and simply listen when they need it. I truly love this new concept of “parenting.” Gone are the days of two people parenting! (It’s the one thing Hillary got right when she talked about it taking a “village.”)
So over the course of the last seven years, my husband and I have found children coming into our lives. (They simply show up – I’m not sure how this happens!) This past weekend was no different, except that every day involved a child! It’s not something I ever thought I’d say I enjoyed, but I did!
First, we went to a friend’s going away party. The host’s two young boys go to our church. We don’t interact with them a whole lot, but I still try to engage them occasionally in conversation and let them know that they are not just “some kid” to me. I said, “Hi” to each of them and was happy when the oldest said, “Hi Sue” back. (I don’t know why but I’m always astounded when they know my name.) Later, both boys were trying to figure out a jump rope. It was kind of long for just one person, but two short really for Double Dutch. Nevertheless, they were attempting DD with various persons. First, the youngest tried holding one side with his grandma on the other side so the oldest could jump. Then they’d take turns. Each of them was getting the hang of it nicely, but, seeing a need for an adult-sized jump-rope holder, I jumped in (not literally) to hold one side. (After all, it was enough for them to try to figure out when to jump, let alone trying to figure out how to swing it in unison!) The youngest didn’t really want my help, but soon, with his astute knowledge, the oldest said, “No, let Sue do it!”
Oh, the swelling of pride in my breast! He had picked me to help! (I think this may stem from my lack of being picked in PE class all through school…)
I laughed at their antics (and their attempts at bravery), encouraged and gave advice until, finally, they got the hang of it enough to quit. LOL (Boys…)
The following day, we spent some time with my husband’s family. His cousin has an eight-month-old son whom I adore. She often lets me hold him in church and we’ve started to bond a bit. When she arrived at the picnic, she handed him to me (which I adore her for – it’s nice to be trusted) and the other relatives (who have not had as much time with this little cutie) admired the way he adjusted to me immediately. Again, pride surged in my chest. When we heard the coming train whistle, his little head perked up and I said, “Oh you like trains.” So we walked a bit out into the yard and, when the train rolled by in the distance, I pointed it out to him. His eyes focused and he watched as car after car rolled by. What a delight to see that connection in his face of the sound with the visual.
Oh, how I hope to stay in his life for a long time and get to participate in other such moments. Plus, he’s a charmer and smiles for my camera almost any time I ask it of him.
Finally, yesterday, I spent some time with our youngest god daughter. Again, I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have these children in our lives. The youngest, now three, has learned that ever endearing feature: calling my name. Her sister did it, too, for awhile, and I absolutely adored it. “Sue,” they call. “Yes honey.” “Look at dis.” How special it is to just be included in that small way in their lives. They love me enough to say “Hey, Aunt Sue needs to see this.” It warms my heart every. single. time.
She even shared some of her candy with me – without complaint – during the 4th of July parade. (And said she was going to share with her sissy, too, who hadn’t come to the festivities.) Later that same evening, we enjoyed some fireworks at their home and she couldn’t quite see so I lifted her up and pointed where she needed to look. When the first firework burst before her little eyes, she exclaimed, “Look Sue! There it is!” *heart bursting here.* Once again, I reveled in that moment of pure joy and excitement that only a child can give.
Three times this weekend I enjoyed the squeals of laughter and the concentration of imagination.
You see, God did have a plan for me. It wasn’t to be a mother, it was to be an Auntie. I don’t claim to know a thing about parenting, but I can share the love in my heart with a child, I can encourage them in small ways, I can participate in life with them and I can even share a simple smile or giggle, which some days, is more important than almost anything else.
At least it is for me.