Family is such a part of who I have grown up to be that leaving home was like ripping out part of my inner being. Especially when I think of the little nieces and nephews who may never even know me well. They are the ones who don’t understand why they receive lots of cuddles one day and the next day I’m gone.
Overseas aunting stinks.
I miss birthday parties, new words, and pretty much everything else. And I become known as the person who talks to them on the screen. (Which they love because sometimes they get to hold the phone.) I read them books (especially when Albert and Clark beg for “more books!”). And I quiz them, “Where is Carissa’s hair? There it is! Where is Carissa’s nose?” We play hide and seek with a stuffed kitty.
There is nothing quite like little people in your own family, knowing that their blood is also partly your blood. Knowing that they might have poor eyes or be tall just because it’s in the family.
But there is also something beautiful about being removed from a family–utterly alone in a great big world of strangers–that makes me open up my heart a little wider and allow for a broader definition of family. It may not be quite the same, but it’s still beautiful when:
- I meet a friend at the market and look down to see her little girl throwing her arms open to receive me
- A three-year-old invites me over for the evening
- I wipe away toddler tears as I head for the door
- Little children tell me stories like I’m an important part of their life
- A one-year-old gives an excited “Ooh! Ooh!” when he sees me coming
- Little people want me to babysit them
And one day, my friend’s almost-two-year-old called me “auntie.” I couldn’t stop smiling all day because it felt like God had given me back a piece of the preciousness I’m missing at home.