Feeling Maternal As An Auntie Of Many

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On my father’s side, I come from a relatively large family that is continually growing as each year passes.  As per standard of a big family, holidays are staple events and an excuse to gather us all together from across the country into one house.  I have my grandfather, three aunts, four uncles, and 14 cousins ranging in age from 19 to 35 – plus my mother’s side of the family.  Now the count includes my family members spouse,s and significant others, because let’s face it, once they said “I do,” they were bound to us for life.  I don’t think I could have asked to be part of a better family.  We have it all.  The close-knit relationships that cross-over the generational gaps, the crazed wackiness that ensues no matter what the occasion, and finally, the never-ending buffet of food laid out for us all to graze on, regardless of how “full” we are.

Up until about three years ago, I was one of the babies in the family.  The closest cousin I had in age was two years younger.  The next set up on the ladder was four years older – and in case you have forgotten, when you’re ten years old, four years difference seems like ages apart.  When Alice married, her husband’s two daughters were welcomed with keen excitement.  Immediately their names were added to the “Christmas Sorting Hat” that determined who bought for who, and their youthful presence brought excitement to every gathering.

Thanksgiving, almost two years ago, the younger of the two girls (we’ll call her Mia) was eager to show me her new toy that her mother bought for their trip from St. Louis to our hometown in upstate New York.  Faintly, I could hear my name being called, but it was somehow different.  As I looked down, Mia was tugging my skirt saying “Aunt Stephanie, come play!”  Knowing the background of my family, it wasn’t surprising in the least to hear those words, but it was one of the most gratifying moments I have experienced.  Being only 22, I am nowhere near becoming a mother – though it is something I am excited for in the future.  Though I immediately gained a feeling of maternal protection around not just her, but her siblings as well.  As the words rang though my ears, my focus honed in on the one year old at my feet.  Not only was I no longer the baby in the family, I had become a role model, and it is something I take with a great deal of pride.

In the time that has passed, they have welcomed a daughter and a son.  I look forward to all of the opportunities I have to be a positive influence on them.  This is just the beginning of the many new additions our family will welcome, and I couldn’t be happier.