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What Does it Mean to Be an Aunt to Young Adults?

My niece and nephew are my heroes and I do not think they have any clue about this. I was 23 when my niece was born and I fell instantly in love. The feelings were mutual and I couldn’t be happier when she called me “Resee.” Two and a half years later my nephew was born and he was full of mischief and love. I enjoyed visiting them when they were young and remember one visit where I became a yo-yo as they fought over playing with me. My sister-in-law actually had to time my playing with each one in order to ward off sibling war. It was hysterical. I felt such a connection to each one and watching them grow up has been not just a joy but an honor.

Each has his/her own personality, hopes and dreams but each is truly a wonderful human being. They both are loving, caring, enjoy spending time with family and friends and giving back to their community. I am full of awe as I watch them become adults. My niece is now almost 20 years old and a sophomore in college while my nephew is 17 years old and a senior in high school excited to begin college at his first choice in the fall. How and when did this all happen? Weren’t we just circling around singing “ring around the rosie?” What the hell is happening?

The more I see them as adults I try not to yearn for the younger years when they fought over time with me and I felt such importance. Now they are busy as they should be. Growing up is partly about separating, developing oneself and learning and they are quite successful at this. I always say that my niece and nephew are rock stars and I stand by that. They are genuine human beings concerned with those around them and the world around them. They are hardest on themselves and actually over-work themselves in school. I do not think they realize that they are already wonderful in every way and do not need to really work at that.

I am always in amazement as I watch my 7 year old daughter, another hero of mine, grow up and cannot fathom her as a young adult, in fact I try not to even bring my mind to that place. I want her to stay seven, sassy and adorable forever. I obviously have different relationships with my niece and nephew especially since I was young, single and not responsible for anyone but myself when they were born. I consider myself extremely lucky to be a part of their lives. I am proud of my niece’s love for her school and studies, even though I have no understanding when she tells me what she is working on in the lab; and I take such pleasure in my nephew’s love of camp and everything that represents for him as I feel the same way about my own camp experience.

I cannot stop their growing up, just as I can’t stop my daughter from growing and I feel so honored to call them “niece” and “nephew,” such important people in my life. I am proud of each of them and I know I will always be along for the ride with them. My admiration of them will obviously continue and I cannot wait to see what this next chapter in entering adulthood will bring to them. Maybe now each will be clued in to my view of them and that it truly comes naturally. Love and appreciation for two amazing and impressive human beings abound.

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