The Cowbell Aunt

…to my niece or nephew on the occasion that your impending arrival has been announced to the world.  March 2013…
Dear Little Guy or Gal,
I’m so happy to meet you in just six more months.  First things first, you should know that I already love you.  Secondly, introductions….I am your aunt.  I am not your mother or your father, nor will I try to be.   You have wonderful parents and involved grandparents…they come first.
And I do have the privilege of parenting my own children.  While that is a different thing altogether, I am thrilled to now have the additional privilege of being an aunt to you!  As a parent, I’m in the game….the whole game, all four quarters, for the long haul.  Both the victories and the defeats, there’s no timeouts or breaks for water.  As a parent….its all in, all of the time!
But not as your aunt.  As your aunt, I’m your number one fan….and while I’m in it with you, I’m happily watching from the front row of the sidelines.  
As your aunt I will love you with the unconditional love of family, and beam with pride at your achievements.  I will enjoy spoiling you with impractical clothing and toys.
As your aunt I will play a special role.  A role that that falls somewhere between an older, wiser mentor and a friend and confidante.  As the keeper of this unique role, I will have a voice that you might just listen to one day when you are at a stage where you can’t hear others.
I will delight in your holiday card photos, and proudly hang them on my refrigerator, without being aware of the seventy-five outtakes that came before that winning shot.  I will never know how difficult it was to wrangle you into a pose and smile or how your parents were literally sweating by the time the photo session was over.
I will only ever believe that you are the smartest, brightest and most creative child in your class and never see the behind-the-scenes conversations with teachers that might indicate a slightly altered version of this perception.
As your aunt I will admire your physical features and personality and recognize aspects of each that remind me of my mother, father, grandparents, or even of my own aunt.  This is a list to which you’ve just been added, the list of the some of the most important people in my own life.
When you’re a baby, I’ll cuddle you and coo you….enjoying all of the access to the warm sweetness and smells of babyhood, without the exhaustion of sleepless nights.
When you’re a child, I’ll play board games with you and take you on hikes, without the annoyance of hearing the complaints or protests that kids save just for their parents. 
When you’re a teenager, I’ll relish in your stories and friendships, without the knowledge of what those social dynamics might mean.
When you’re an adult, I’ll admire your life as it unfolds based on the decisions you’ve made, without feeling the stress behind the deliberations which led to those decisions.
As your aunt, I will get to enjoy you and all of the sights, sounds, smells and energy of you in a more carefree manner and with less weight than parenthood.  
And most importantly, as your aunt I will be able to provide you with a unique perspective as you get older.  A glimpse into the life and mind of your father when he was a child.  Sharing siblinghood with him for his entire life, its a vantage point that only I can offer and I am deeply honored to do so.  Without the filter of being your parent, I’ll share with you the games that your dad and I played together, the battles that we fought and the places that we visited (both in reality and the ones that we imagined).  I’ll fill your mind with the stories, turned lore, from our childhood family road trips and holidays.  And one day I’ll tell you the story of how I knew that your father had met the woman who he’d spend the rest of his life in love with and who would bring us you, dear little one.

Upon hearing these tales, you will laugh so hard that you cry and your heart will be warmed.  As will my heart.  For I will know that I have helped guide you to an important realization:  that your father was once a child…he was once you.  And you’ll know that he is an excellent father to you because he is carrying over the traditions and love of his childhood.  A gift that will be bestowed to you to carry on your way, as up you grow.
As your aunt, I will help provide you with a link between generations and an appreciation of the bond of family.  You will know that near or far, family is always closest to the heart.
I take my responsibility of being your aunt very seriously and can’t wait to cheer you on, with a big ‘ol cowbell, in the game of life.  So my dear little niece or nephew, welcome.  May the world be good to you, and you to it.
Your Aunt Carissa
While this aunt expresses herself with words, your other aunt, Aunt Sarah, expresses herself in a much more creative way with this beautiful, heartfelt video which inspired this post:

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