It's been a mantra for ages; "Don't do as I do, do as I say." I have watched parents cringe as they fear their children will make the same mistakes they did and try to steer their children in another direction. Not being a parent has put me in an interesting position of being an "aunt" to many young people - mine and theirs. I love the young people in my life, those real nieces and nephews and the ones who have entered my life by choice or chance. They are my "kids".
I will kick their butt in a way that a parent may not. I will have a blind eye for things their parent may not. But I will love them in much the same way a parent will. I look forward to seeing them. I want them to grow strong and thrive. I will likely open the door to them when others may not and many don't even know I will. My heart is tied to them in a way that can't quite be explained, except to say I am Aunt Linda.
When they are in pain, it pains me. When they celebrate, I am celebrating with them. I see my own mistakes in theirs. I see my own dreams in theirs. I see them as the hope for something more and something better in the world. They entered my life - by blood or by chance - for a reason and once they have connected, I am dedicated to them in some form. I want them to succeed and thrive. I want them to do more and do better than I did. They should not endure the pains I did. And when they do, I suffer with them. They are my "kids", no matter how short a time we spent together or how deeply connected we have been. They crossed my path. They are connected to me. I love them and believe I owe them whatever can be given to make their path stronger but not necessarily not easier. It is not about things or money. I owe them what I know to be true and what I believe will help them. We grow stronger by struggle. I won't fight their battles. I only hope to share stories of battles I fought that were not well planned and executed. Sharing those things that helped me prepare for such battles will help them achieve more success.
They will struggle and fail as I did. My only hope is that they won't fall as hard or as far because of something I said or I did. And because of something I said or did, they can run a thousand miles farther than I ever imagined and do some amazing thing that they didn't think they could. At that moment I hope I'm sitting, in this world or the next, saying 'Wow! Look at that. That's one of my kids'.