1. When you hear your sibling is having a baby, you’re just as excited as they are for a new life to be entering this world.
2. The early morning phone call letting you know you’re officially an aunt or uncle is The Best One Ever, and you simply can’t wait to meet the little one.
3. When the family sees your new niece or nephew for the first time, you shower the baby with love, and marvel at the possibilities life has in store for them.
4.The next time you see them, you can’t believe how much they’ve grown in such a short time! Doing pushups in the crib…really???
5. You pitch in with changing the baby’s diaper – now that they’re a little sturdier – and maybe even give them a bath (they fit just right inside the sink!).
6. Your niece or nephew is almost walking by the time they make the trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and those tiny hands hold on to your index fingers for dear life as fat little legs navigate gingerly around sofas and end tables.
7. They’re able to sit up on their own now, so you gather them onto your lap to read ‘Go, Dog. Go!’ for the 500th time (it never gets old to them).
8. Those first words are a miracle! Of course everyone is “Mom,” but the process of them finding and using their own voice is illuminating and magical.
9. They’re able to repeat the things you say to them in what seems like no time, so making them talk like little grown people becomes a game unto itself.
10. Speaking of games, introducing your favorite pastime to them is a wonderful shared adventure of kicked balls, dropped passes, pool floaties, and of course dabs of mascara and lipstick, aunts.
11. The first snow they see is unlike anything ever – the shriek of delight that springs forth from young lungs emphatically proclaiming, “MILK!!!!!”
12. Soon they’re off to school, and the candid photo of them beaming with Bob the Builder backpack and lunchbox in tow, clad in red canvas sneakers, makes you reminisce fondly about the simpler times.
13. You dutifully help with homework, and fill in as chauffeur to practices and games when mom or dad is busy. Your enthusiasm grows increasingly overbearing though, as you graduate from cheerleader to coach to part-time/unofficial ‘referee’.
14. The first day of middle school is a reminder that neither of you is as young as you used to be. Seems you were just reading them bedtime stories, now they’re filing inside this shiny new place, with only a smartphone and ear buds to shield them from the great unknown. [Hey, look back…I’m waving at ya kid!]
15. They don’t want as much help with the homework now (though they sorely need it), but they will take a ride to the basketball game on Saturday (or the school dance) just fine, thank you very much.
16. News of their first fight brings pride and panic at once: you’re glad they defended themselves, but you fear for them (and the other kid), and perhaps more immediately for the inevitable loss of innocence.
17. At their middle school promotion ceremony, the video montage of the entire 8th grade class’ baby pictures moves you to tears (there isn’t a dry eye in the house).
18. By the time high school rolls around you’re as much a friend to them as you are an aunt or uncle, which has plenty of upside: you know they’re mature enough to discuss the opposite sex in practical terms, and you certainly don’t have to watch your language as much around them. As a thoughtful aunt or uncle, you build an invaluable bridge between adolescence and adulthood for them, in a way their parents can’t quite do (but that’s what you’re there for).
19. You melt with joy when you take them on their first official date. To think, this person who used to spit up all over you is now holding hands in the backseat with a certified cutie as you drive them both to the movies. For some reason it was cooler than mom or dad taking them, and you were more than OK with that.
20. Before you know it, those four years are up – a succession of after school tutorials, field trips, cross country practices, FBLA meetings and homecoming games has passed you in the blink of an eye.
21. After countless late night calls, admissions essays, campus visits and acceptance letters, they finally choose their college (sweatshirt and all), and you once again marvel at the possibilities that lie ahead – same as when they were born. You’re both excited and anxious for them, but you rest easy with a feeling of immense satisfaction – almost as if you raised them yourself. And in a way, you did.