"Parenting (or child rearing) is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship."
As difficult as it is, as much as it's changed the path of our lives, there is nothing I would give up about having the two precious souls entrusted to us on such a huge, part-time basis. We may be aunt & uncle, but having a little being's face light up because she's so happy to see you that she leaps up to throw her arms around you and shower you with kisses is an incredible blessing - and an enormous responsibility.
I can't help but think, nearly every time I am disciplining the kids, or reacting to something that I *know* is developmental, what would my sister be doing in this situation? My sister and I were very different people. We had different backgrounds (I was an Army brat until 13, she only until 7), different fathers (biologically the same, just military vs. civilian), different social stratas, even different levels of university (state school vs. ivy league). Would we raise our children the same? During the short period she had with her children, I think not. She was dedicated to Attachment Parenting. I don't think I would have been, if I had been blessed with children, although I supported her parenting decision.
I am so very much aware that I am the closest thing to a mother figure they have. Every thing I do or say is coloured by what I think my sister would do or say in the same situation. I make a very concentrated effort to respect what I think my sister's wishes would be in a given situation. Yet at the same time, I have to do what I think is right, recognizing that there might be a divergence.
Tonight, the kids were being little animals. They were wild (understandable, given they had to sit in a car for an hour at 5pm), insane, crazy, over the top, uncontrollable. Yet, they were giggling adorably, so happy and having so much fun, I couldn't bring myself to stop them.
Out of the blue, one of the kids starts telling a story (he has SUCH an amazing imagination!), and a throw-away line in the story was that his Mommy died. It really didn't have anything to do with the story, but was important enough to him that he included it. And my heart stopped. As I put each of them to bed, with the kisses and the cuddles, and the love (she insists on holding my hand when I sing the Shema to her - tonight she demanded "No shema!" but I said, "Okay, I'll sing it for myself." I was one line in, when she turned over and grabbed my hand. *heart melted*), I felt my sister's influence stronger than ever before.
Some of her friends have mentioned having comforting dreams of her, dreams that they felt sent a message of peace, comfort and love. I haven't had anything like that. But I like to think she'd be happy with how I deal with her children. I'd like to think she'd be proud of the influence we've had. I truly hope my influence is strong enough that these two beautiful children grow into amazing adults who are everything she would hope for her children. I hope my love for my sister shows itself in two loving, caring, sensitive adults. Someday. For now, I'm okay with the wild children wreaking havoc. To a point. And as long as I've had coffee. Caffeinated, because my decaf days went the way of the do-do bird because, Children.
Parenting. It's not biological.