Throwback Thursday – The Child I Never Had
Whenever I thought about having a child, a rare occurrence, I always imagined I’d have a son. His name would be Brandon and he would play sports if he wanted to or be a geek if he wanted to or be gay or straight or blond or have dark, curly hair. None of that stuff mattered. I could imagine the unconditional love one offers to a child.
But I didn’t imagine that I could feel that love for someone I didn’t give birth to. When Tabitha and I were first matched as mentor and mentee in the Big Sisters program, it was to fill the “kid” void in my life. Turns out I wasn’t going to be able to have any of my own, but I still thought I had something to give. We exhausted our “in school” activities and moved on to a full Big-Sister-Little-Sister relationship and now I think of her more like my kid than my sibling. And she calls me her second Mom.
Tabitha was almost nine when I met her. Now she’s in her late twenties with a family of her own. Her youngest, Vienna, is not quite a year old and here they are at the library where they and toddler Ryker go to get some book and learning time. And playtime. When Tabby was little I would give her books and she would lie to me about reading them! I discovered that it really wasn’t her thing but she was afraid of disappointing me. No one had nurtured a love for reading in her. We evolved to a more honest relationship and we figured it out. She is a whiz with numbers which is why she’s taking an accounting course this fall. But she knows how important reading is and she’s growing a love of books in her children. She and her partner Nick are pretty amazing parents and I’m so lucky that we’re still in each other’s lives. And now, when Ryker runs to greet me saying “Gramma Lisa!”, my heart just about explodes, proving that you don’t have to share DNA to be family.
PS. I do have a wonderful, smart, beautiful step-daughter whom I love very much. However, I came into her life when she was pretty much grown. The work had been done! My influence is minimal. But the love is no less important.