I am not, technically, a mom. I do, however, have two people on this earth who I can't imagine loving more if they were my own children. Those two people are my niece and nephew. They are both in their 20's now and the reason I am so close to them was the opportunity I had in taking care of them when they were little. My niece was born a little less than a year after I graduated from high school. I was coming off one of my aforementioned depressions (see "H is for Happiness") and wasn't attending college and needed a job at the time my sister-in-law was ready to go back to work. So when my niece was just three months old, I started taking care of her while my brother and sister-in-law were at work. Three years later, my nephew came along. I was with them Monday through Friday from 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening. I fed, bathed, and diapered them. I was there for first words, first steps, and first days at school. I accompanied them on field trips and even took care of them when their parents went on vacation. So to say I have a close bond with these two amazing people would be an understatement.
They are two of the funniest people I know. Our conversations--whether in person or via text--will often have me laughing so hard I snort. They are both smart and kind and I see them growing and changing into these strong and capable adults and am awed they've been able to do all that in spite of all my shortcomings as a caregiver. My niece is kindhearted, artistic and beautiful. My nephew is sweet, generous and handsome. Every day I am so grateful that I have been able to be a part of their lives and every day I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be with them as much as I did. This post is in honor of them. Thank you, my snugglies, for helping me to be a better person. Auntie loves you to the edge of the universe and back.