I just said goodbye to my niece, the oldest. She’s twelve and the two of us have a pretty special relationship. When she was little, she was just as close with her other aunt, my sister, but she now has kids of her own and a lot less time to play the doting aunt.
So the niece, who can be a bit of a Whirlwind (ADHD will do that), spent the night last night and we had a great time.
I realized, at some point, that when we’re together alone, I imagine what my life would be like if things were different, if she were my kid, not my niece. And I ache a bit for that imaginary life, both for me and for her, as her needs fall through the cracks quite a bit in the real world.
At the same time, I know that raising a child is not the same as borrowing one for the weekend, and that with all my notions of how I could parent her better, I also know that there’s no way to know that—it is possible I could mess up way more than has been done so far in her life.