This picture is the focal point of the room where I spend most of my day hanging out, snuggling with the dog and writing these blogs. It's a large canvas with photos of my nieces and nephews being their incredibly beautiful selves.
As a single and childless woman, I have often been told by people that you just can't fully understand the love for a child until you have one of your own. The rush of love and caring and protectiveness that comes with knowing a human being is reliant solely on you for their physical and emotional needs is overwhelming. As a parent, you are responsible for making sure you send respectful and responsible adults into the world.
I used to think there was no way in the world I wouldn't be one of those people. Of course I would have children, and of course I was meant for that kind of responsibility.
Of course, that isn't going to happen.
But I have to tell you, a part of me feels very privileged to be in this position. See those ten individuals on that canvas? There is no one more important to me than them. I have not, in my lifetime, felt a rush of love for my own child that is greater than my rush of love for them. I'm not their cousin's mom. I'm not looking out for someone ahead of them. Those ten people have the unconditional love and support of their parents, and when they aren't in the mood for that option they have an aunt who has no greater mission in life than to be their biggest supporter, their biggest cheerleader and their most ardent fan.
I found this picture when I was looking through photos to use in another post, and I laughed because it's typical. No matter how old I get, my brothers will think I'm 12 and I'll be sitting at the kids' table. But I looked at that table and realized that it was the only place I would have wanted to be... surrounded by those fun little people who are growing up to be amazing adults. And my only expectation of them is that they be true to themselves and know I'm in their corner. There's no place else I'd rather be.