Confessions of an absent aunt

Nephew Sawyer and me, Thanksgiving 2008!

I dreamed of being an aunt before I ever wanted to be a parent. Why? Because my siblings are all at least seven years older than I am. I have little to no memory of them as anything other than adults. When I was just six, my brother Kevin met his future wife. They were both in college and I basically can’t remember a time she wasn’t in my life. I’m lucky for that, as she’s amazing. I grew up around grown-up siblings, so it makes sense that I was stoked about being an aunt long before I ever wished for a family of my own.

At present, I have three nephews, one niece, and a second niece on the way. I love these children with my whole heart, and I’d die in a heartbeat for any and all of them. They were born during my college days, and because I went to school in Arizona, I was close enough in location to them that I could visit on any given weekend. My first nephew Sawyer made his world debut my freshman year at UA. Lukey showed up at the end of sophomore year. Then came Cullen, whose sister Hannah was born exactly twelve months later. The next baby is due in December, and while I know I’ll get to meet her because I’ll be in California for Christmas, I worry it’s not enough.

Luke and Sawyer

The nephews ask me to fly home all the time. They’re hysterical to be around, having nicknamed me Grandpa Lala, and it breaks my heart that I can’t see them more than twice a year. There’s something very wrong about that. I chose this life for myself on the east coast, but obviously at the expense of my relationship with my California family. The distance is becoming a problem, and I don’t want the little ones to resent me forever for running off on my own and neglecting them. Sawyer just had his first day of Kindergarten and I wasn’t around to take pictures of him before he headed off to school. I’m missing the greatest years with them — As Moira says in “Hook,” there’s only a short period of time in which children want to be around their parents and elders. Before I know it, Sawyer, Luke, Hannah, and Cullen will be teenagers who view me as the crazy, self-involved aunt who voluntarily left them behind to pursue writing. Sorry I’m so far away, guys. I promise it won’t be that way forever.

Cullen and Laura in 2010

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