Tomorrow my nice, “C”, will graduate from college. Technically, she is my niece-in-law, my husband’s brother’s daughter (got that?). It seems so surreal to have watched this little girl with the gigantic brown eyes become a woman – how did that happen?

It’s humbling to have watched someone grow from a child of four to a woman of twenty-two. Being an aunt, I think, is sort of like grandma training – you get to experience all the good parts of having little kids around without dealing with temper tantrums, diaper changes, or handing over the car keys. I’ve been there for birthday parties, sleepovers, graduation ceremonies, piano recitals, proms, first boyfriends, and all the other little milestones that families celebrate together. At each stage, I’ve marveled at what a great kid she is – kind, a little shy, dryly witty, innately curious, and super-duper smart.

Although she’s now an adult, the essence of “C” hasn’t changed. Of course, she’s grown physically and intellectually, but the core of who she is remains the same – she still possesses the same charming qualities that she did when she was four. I always wonder about the whole “nature vs. nurture” debate and do believe that some parts of your personality are wrapped up in your DNA helix. In my humble and very unscientific opinion, if you’re a jerk when you’re three, you’re probably going to be a jerk at thirty-three.

As she’s matured, our relationship has also changed from playmate, to advisor, to confidante. Now, I turn to her for her expertise in computer programming and navigating the wilds of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I used to be the cool aunt who knew all the ins and outs of New York City – not anymore, she knows what’s happening and, admittedly, I do not.

Now the cycle begins again, as I watch “C” and my son interact. They are like two peas in a pod. They send each other emoticon filled texts and FaceTime with each other – “A” even met her boyfriend before the rest of the family during a FaceTime session a few months ago. Not many college students would take the time to text and FaceTime with their 10 year-old cousins, but not only do they love each other, they genuinely LIKE being together.

As the mother of an only child, it’s heartwarming and comforting to know that they have a bond and that he has another trustworthy adult that he can turn to when he needs advice. One of the concerns that parents of onlies face is the fear that their child will be alone in the world when we are no longer around – and it was a consideration in planning our family. But despite “A” being the only child in our home, he’s not the only child in our family and I do feel confident that the cousins’ will always be close.

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So, as “C” walks down that aisle on Saturday and begins her journey on the next stage in her life, I’ll be thinking about our journey together, from little girl to grown woman. And cheering her on the entire way.

 

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