I remember the day my oldest nephew was born as if it were only yesterday, let alone almost six years ago. I was excited for the chance to cuddle with him and teach him fun tricks to annoy his dad, but that’s about all that my barely-13-year-old self could process. I didn’t realize that from the first time I held Austin in my arms, he would completely change my life.
Fast forward to today, and my youngest nephew Ashton just turned two. And let’s not forget about fiery little Aiden, who is four and almost bigger than and equally as stubborn as his brothers. Needless to say, looking back on the lives of these three little guys and how they’ve changed my own, I can’t believe how fast time has flown by.
I often confuse my friends and new acquaintances by referring to the boys as “my kids.” I get appalled glances and looks of disbelief before I realize the misunderstanding. While I’m just the aunt, these boys might as well be mine for how much I love them and for my almost constant presence in their lives. I never understood what it meant when people would tell me that kids can capture your heart, or that you would literally do anything in your power to make them feel safe and loved. I will not deny that I love the ability to hand them back over to Mami and Daddy or Bamba and Pop on the (not-so-rare) occasion that their stubborn sides start showing….but I digress.
Let me clarify with a Mumford & Sons quote that sums it up quite well:
“Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”
I can’t explain how true these words are when it comes to “my boys”. For the past six years, I have loved them beyond measure and they have literally changed my life. When Austin was born, I was a middle schooler who had been raised as the youngest child in our household. I think I was a sweet kid, but I was accustomed to that youngest child “spot”, and suddenly, there was a baby in the mix. Most people don’t become aunts or uncles until their twenties, and even more so, don’t end up sharing a house with the whole family. But it was possibly the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned how to put others before myself. I learned that investing time and love into anyone, especially a child, can do worlds of good for the heart. With two nephews to follow Austin in the next few years and all eight of us living together, I won’t say it wasn’t hard. That’s a lot of people, regardless of the size of the house and especially when they share the name Buckler! Let’s just say the boys came by the stubborn gene honestly…
All of this is to say that the investment of love into these boys has changed my life for the better. Austin is probably my most true best friend – he will come in my room and just talk to me about his day, or ask me about mine. I’m blown away on a daily basis by his intelligence and capacity for compassion as just a kindergardener. Let alone the fact that he can school anyone in chess – chess at 5-years-old! He even helped me get into college last year by inspiring my entrance essay when he told me, “When things get rough, you just have to keep trying,” – in regards to Angry Birds, of course.
Aiden is like a mirror to me – we butt heads only because we are so similar in the way that we stick to what we believe in and aren’t afraid to put up a fight. We share a profound love for sour cream and onion chips and putting ketchup on just about anything. He is also my trusty protector from any “bad guys” and that, my friends, is always a good thing.
And then there’s Ashton, whose recent birthday inspired this whole nostalgic post. He is our little burst of sunshine and joy – he has the astounding ability to turn anyone’s day around for the better with just a few giggles and newly-learned words. I can’t explain the excitement I felt when he finally said my name a few months ago, and now I get to hear “Hello, Mia Mia!” every single morning, as long as nap time was a success and the good mood is in tact.
I can’t believe how quickly these past two years with Ash have gone, and I think I started reminiscing when I realized that these are the last baby days our family will have for quite awhile – possibly until I have my own kids (in the far, far future). I am so thankful for the love and patience these boys have taught me, as well as the joy that they have brought to my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them, and I would do anything for them. I can’t wait to see them grow up and continue to participate in their lives as I’ve been blessed to from day one. But at the same time, I’m totally okay with them staying little for as long as possible.
Austin and Aiden have had this thing going for the past few years where they were “too cool” to give their Mia Mia hugs, which I didn’t take personal, but still – an aunt’s gotta have her hugs. I would always give them kisses anyway, telling them that “auntie kisses” never wipe off no matter how hard they tried. Only recently, as in a few weeks ago, did they suddenly decide that they were going to give me a hug every day when they got home from school. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how happy this makes me. Investing my love really paid off, and I’m sure it only gets better from here.