No, it’s not just my favorite new sitcom, it’s actually a true saying in my life.
I’ve spent time this week with my daughter, “cousiniece” who is in her first year at college, “cousiniece” who is the same age as my daughter (and practically her adopted sister), and my nephew, yesterday watching his last performances as Drum Major in his high school band.
When our kids are small, let’s be honest, we’re just trying to keep them alive. From the moment the hospital puts them in our charge, we begin to worry if they’re eating enough, sleeping enough, and staying away from the things that will hurt them.
Over time, those worries become about whether they’re getting the right kind of education, making good friends, developing their potential, and still eating enough, sleeping enough and staying away from things that will hurt them.
Those all become less and less out of our control until, one day, they leave the safety of our nest and embark on a world that we’ve tried simultaneously to show them and shield them.
My daughter is thriving in her new homeschooling world. I see her leaning into it, relieved and confident. Stepping out of the drama that is junior high into a world of true bonding with the cousins that she is learning alongside, and starting to believe in alternative ways of reaching her goals.
My cousin is starting to find her way in her new college setting. She’s a fish out of water for a couple of reasons, but, knowing her like I do, I believe that she is exactly where she is supposed to be in her life, and is already making a difference in the lives of the students and teachers around her. I love that she’s still close enough that I can take her to lunch, or still have her at book club.
My other cousin is a fixture in our lives and, often, in our house. I love it. I love her. She is so different from my child yet their bond is so strong. So rooted in love and family. Her wit and sarcasm keep me rolling in laughter and she is the reason that I no longer feel incredible guilt for never being able to give my child a sibling. Because she already had one in her all along. She and Reagan have a lot of future plans together. I love to see them leaning on each other as they start to discover what it is they want to be.
I’ve written about all of these kids before today. While my nephew was the first child I really loved as my own, I certainly wasn’t counting on it happening with each new addition to our family whether they were my own child or not.
My daughter is my life. Anyone who knows me, knows this. Not in an helicopter parent way, but in a way that I only have the one child. She’s it. I’ve been blessed to be able to devote all of my resources to helping her become who she wants to be. She’s independent and strong, and has become so grown and mature that it takes me aback when I really stop and look at her.
My cousin, she has a quiet strength of character and resolve in her goals. She has a HUGE heart, is sickeningly intelligent, and is a true kindred spirit to me, just like her aunt and uncle before her.
My other cousin, like her sister, has that quiet strength. She’s been such a rock of support for my daughter and has so much talent for the arts. Both she and her sister are accomplished violinists and have a deep appreciation for music, literature and art. Yet another reason we, my cousins, daughter and I, are so close. We love so many of the same things.
My nephew, Josh….oh lord, I’m going to try to not cry while writing this. I spent yesterday at his senior pep rally and was overcome by my own tears by the end of it.
Josh is an amazing young man. He has somehow managed to retain an endearing innocence, and is a perpetually happy person, which tends to be infectious. When he was little, ever the music lover, my mom taught him “You are my Sunshine” and he would sing it upon request every time we asked. He is still my sunshine, even though he is on the threshold of being a grown man.
These kids, they all have such unique markers in their personalities. They all have different goals and dreams. They all hold my heart in different ways. I continue to be amazed at how my capacity for love has been stretched and shaped by each one.
This past week was a hard one. Every anniversary that passes of losing my cousin Eric still brings a fresh wave of sadness. Remembrance. Bittersweet nostalgia. I have thought of him even more often than usual this week. Looking around at these kids that he loved and would have delighted in as much as I do.
Maybe I feel like I am loving them for both of us. Shoring up these bonds because of the bond he and I had that was so strong and important to me throughout my life.
Mothers never stop worrying. But the kids are alright. They’re all going places. They’re all happy, beautiful, inspiring souls. They all bring me joy.
It is the highlight of my life to watch their journeys unfold.