In February, we went to visit my darling oldest niece, who was studying in Madrid at the time. I have traveled a good bit, but not very often to Spain, and not anywhere since the pandemic started. So, to say I was over the moon to travel to Europe, especially to see my niece, was the understatement of the year. She spent significant time with us, despite her ongoing studies, and even stayed with us one night on the rollaway bed in our hotel room.
The next morning, we set off for the smaller city of Toledo to take a guided tour. Off we went, down in the teeny tiny elevator to the lobby and the front desk.
“Buenas Noches,” I started to the woman behind the desk. My niece looked me querulously.
Oops (Apparently Buenas Noches means “Good night”).
“Buenas Tardes,” I continued with determination.
Still no. (“Good evening”).
The young gal at the counter smiled.
“Buenos Aires,” I said, sure I had it this time.
“Aunt Jenny,” my niece said gently, “Buenos Aires is a city in Argentina.”
The lobby erupted with laughter, and I grinned. Bahahahaha. Oops once more.
Fast forward to coffee with my 2nd niece in late July. Back at the Oxford Baking Company in Oxford, CT, we met on a Saturday at the early hour of 7 AM, as she had to lifeguard that day. She’s seventeen now, which I can hardly fathom, and has her own key to my sister’s car, and a wealth of pretty-well thought- out opinions.
And, as with her sister, I could not be more proud.
As we sat across the table and then migrated to the two chairs on the front porch, it occurred to me how precious the girls and their brother are to me. After my first husband and I parted, I was alone for a long time. Over a decade in fact. And though at times I considered having a child on my own, it just never seemed to be the right time, or the right idea, or to come together in any real, concrete way. When MyUPSGuy and I were married in 2014, there was a short window to have a child, as I was already 45, but I just didn’t have it in me anymore to play Legos on the floor. And it always seems to me that a little kid deserves to play Legos on the floor with their mom.
So, we didn’t.
And now I don’t.
Am I sad? Sometimes. But the journey of this incredibly complex life involves so many steps. So many decisions. Some of them great. Some not so great. And to this day I’m not sure if I should be sad that I didn’t have my own children or glad that God knew the right path for me. Maybe a little of both.
There is also an interesting societal thing about children I find. If you don’t have kids, there always seems to be questions about why. Were you not up to the task? Do you not understand that the greatest joy in life is to have a child? Okay, perhaps this may be true. I remember my friend the Admiral saying to me, “Don’t miss it.” But it didn’t happen for me. It just didn’t. Am I less because I didn’t raise children of my own?
I will admit openly that the fact that I don’t have my own kids makes me only adore my sister’s children more. This is the closest I will probably ever come to having my own, and I often think, with thanks, that my sister and her husband have continued our family. I see traits of my beloved father particularly in my younger niece, and it brings me joy.
And all the remembrances.
I remember the time when Niece #1 was four and would play while my sister and I talked, then come over and take a single raisin before going off to play again. I can still see Niece #2 sitting on the chair in my living room reading her new book and replying when questioned, just a little put out, just a little exasperated, “I am weading my new book dat Aunt Jinny got me.” And then there’s Andrew, a wonderful young man at 13, who I will always remember riding his dirt bike around the field where we will someday build our house.
So, the bottom line, I think, is that we find the love in our lives in unique and varied ways. And that includes our relationships with the next generation. I shamelessly dote on my sister’s children and can’t believe how much they’ve grown. I see myself showing up at their college dorm, taking them to lunch, and asking, “Do you need a little money?” I’m the aunt. That’s the role I fill, and happily so. I can’t believe how tall my nephew is, or how much wisdom they now spout … and how I richly blessed I am.
And for me, that’s enough.
10 Replies to “Buenos Aires”
Thanks for sharing this deeply personal but inspiring story
Thank you Joie!!
Love you, my sister! You’re a wonderful aunt! They are lucky to have you…
Love you right back Sister!
So beautiful Jenifer, you have a gift & generously share with us❤️
Thank you so much Keri!! xo
I have another childless friend and I remember here saying “ what if my purpose is to be the best dang aunt in the world?”
Thank you Coryne …. I love my goal of being the “best dang aunt!” 🙂
Beautifully said – no doubt the joy and love goes both ways!
Louise, thank you so much!