appreciating the kids that aren’t your own

Something JUST dawned on me. It really did. I went from being an “aunt” to a “mother.” It’s like “big deal” right? But to me… it is. Before I had a kiddo of my own, I was an aunt, and a pretty cool one, too. I had tons of time to plug into my nieces and nephews and we were building really cool relationships.

But a couple of weeks ago my nephew Grant asked me “how come you never hang out anymore?” It stunned me. He always stuns me with his forthrightness at age 4.  But I felt this hole in my heart start to form. I realized that I wasn’t doing the right thing for him and my other little loves. I had taken away something that we spent time growing. I have been so busy with getting my life together so that it feels like a new normal and have put people on the back burner. I have burned some friends and these wonderful kids, alike. And I feel awful about it. I am worried that my gravestone one day will read, “She was great… Until she wasn’t” and people will remark that they thought I had been dead for years…

The difference between being an aunt and a mom is pretty profound. Kids look up to you as an adult, but they also appreciate you because they know you are different from mom and dad. It is a really special position to be in, and I have loved it for 7 years. How could I throw it all away so fast? What am I thinking? These are going to be lifelong relationships so I need to work on them, right?

Kids are amazing people because they have the ability to surprise you all of the time. My siblings’ kids have taught me a ton about my life. They have made me think about the future of our community and our family. They have expected more of me at times than I have expected of myself. They can be a mirror showing you how you are looking and doing as a person.

So what? What is there to do? I am stretched thin as it is. I feel tired from working, and child-rearing, and taking care of my husband, and trying to see friends. What can I do to show these people that they are meaningful, important, special human beings and that I am thankful for them?

Instead of focusing on making them grateful for things in their life, I am going to let them change me into the grateful person I should be. Kids get a bad rap for being ungrateful, entitled bad future adults… but I firmly believe that focusing on them has made us focus less on ourselves. We are able to be molded and I think we are meant to be touched by children who are ours and NOT ours.

Just a little thought. How about you? Do you have kids in your life who you need to show gratitude for? Do you think we can make a difference in ourselves in seeing them differently? Let me know!

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