Today is my nephew’s birthday.  Samuel David White was born 13 years ago today.  Just like the births of his sister and baby brother, his birth changed my life. 

Lets just get this out of the way and on the record, I was Sam’s first girlfriend.  Now don’t go crazy on me here…the story is that when he was little (like 3-4) he would sit on my lap and say, “I am going to marry you Aunt Heather when I grow up.”  Later he and his little brother Jon passed me off to “Batman” before “Batman” was eaten by a shark on one of their vacations in Florida.  That is really a post all unto itself so I will be sure to make a note to write that one down later.

The girlfriend issue came up while I was talking to Sam today because of course at the age of 13, I am a realist and know that girls are entering the picture.  He laughed and laughed as we talked about him not dating until age 40 (I don’t have to worry…his mom is ALL over it!).  He is an adorable young man and getting cuter by the day, but it truly is his personality that is so..well, amazing.  He has a GREAT laugh, and I noticed again today how it continues to get deeper.  He and I have a similar laugh that changes when we really get the giggles…we both sound (sadly) a little like a cross between Beavis & Butthead and Woody Woodpecker.  He is smart.  Oh so smart.  I worry about him a little because he tends to get bored a lot (as he tells me), and I worry that he is not getting challenged enough in school.  My worry is somewhat alleviated by his love of reading which pushes him as he pushes himself reading more and more challenging material.  There is stuff that he has tackled at age 13 (honestly at age 10), that I am not sure I could tackle as an adult.  I love his love of books and reading…they remind me of me a little (just he is better..from my better, higher self).  

I have a lot of thoughts, feelings and emotions about mothers, children, those that have children, and those that do not.  People who have NO idea about my life often make judgements about my lack of biological children of my own.  Those judgements are not only 90% erroneous the majority of the time, but they are painful to bear.  I would guess that most of us have seen a woman in our lifetime be the recipient of a “joke” about their lack of children, or have a comment directed at them on how they don’t understand because they are “not a mother”.  I would advise all to tread lightly in this area when dealing with “childless” women.  You have no idea what goes into people’s personal choices OR if they even have a choice in the matter. 

Whatever your choices or non-choices, what I have learned in my life is that motherhood comes in lots of forms and fashions.  I have had a lot of “non-official” mothering experience both as a child with my little brother and sister, and also as an aunt of several nieces and nephews.  I credit my baby sister for giving me such a prominent role in her children’s lives these past 17 years.  She provided me the opportunity with an open door, and I willingly walked (if not skipped) through it.  I will say though that it has taken both of us to keep me as involved in their lives as I am.  Scheduling alone, as they have gotten older, has become as complex as war strategy.  That work between us though has provided me with limitless opportunities for unconditional love from three amazing children.  Children that have changed and molded me as I hope I have positively molded them in some small way(s).  I have watched them grow, and often I find myself in their eyes or mannerisms.  I see flashes of things in their actions that I have had a part in teaching them.  Her loving inclusion of me in their lives in such a wonderful manner has enriched my life in ways I am sure I do not fully recognize.

I am SO glad to have Sam (and his brother and sister) in my life.  They have loved me, challenged me, thrilled me, scared me, but more than all that…they have inspired me.  My wish for all of you is to bravely walk your own path, and to love with arms wide open.  I wish for you to have even one person in your life that loves you with the love of a child.  That kind of love, on the darkest of days, can make all the difference.  That makes me think of one of my favorite quotes…

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Birthday Sam!  I wish for you to be your true self in this world knowing with all that you are and have that you are an amazing young man, and a glorious child of God.  You have changed my life forever, and I am so blessed to be your Aunt Heather!! 🙂

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! 🙂