Dear Niece #1,
Today you are 13. As with many aspects of life that sneak up, I find this sentence hard to believe. And then I look at you and no longer see a little girl and I know it IS true.
Today I stop and marvel at you, dear niece, and the ways you turned me into a proud hypocrite.
Before you were born (and I have publicly confessed this many a time) I rolled my eyes when my friend Cathy gushed about her four nephews. Every time she went on and on I thought she was a pathetic single woman who was in want of her own children so much she poured that energy into her nephews.
And then you were born.
I think I officially usurped Cathy in telling everyone everything you did and how fascinating and amazing you are.
If hypocrisy was a town, there was a new sherriff and her name was Aunt Amy.
I know it was a little disconcerting to you last year when you visited me in China to be greeted so warmly by my friends. As you get older, I will still be as proud of you and find you as fascinating as ever, but I’ll speak of it less. Deal?
Would you humor me and let me share one last story showing how clever and funny you have been from the beginning? You were about three or four and once again I had forgotten to pack some items when our family was traveling. This time it was underwear. Your mom had dropped you and me off at the store while she ran with your sisters to the grocery store. I hate wasting money, so if I was going to buy underwear, I wanted ones I’d use. Well, good night the choices! The sizes, cuts, colors, brands. It takes a bit of reading and going back and forth. You were patient … to a point.
“Aunt Amy, what was that they said on the loudspeaker?”
I don’t know, I missed it.
“They said, ‘Just close your eyes and pick a pack!'”
I still laugh.
From the day you were born, you have a been a game changer. You help me see the world, myself, our family, and God in ways I couldn’t without you.
Because this is public, I’ll stop here. But thanks to you (and later to your sisters), I know aunts and uncles are not pathetic, they are containers of joy that can’t be held back. To know that God loves you and delights in you so much more than your parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles is stunning. But he does.
My birthday prayer and hope for you is that as you continue to grow and move towards adulthood you will be rooted in love and belonging. And that you won’t be too scarred from having a crazy aunt (or several of us!).
I love you. Happy Birthday!
Love, Aunt Amy