My niece sat for her driver’s permit test this week. When I started dating my husband she was 3 1/2 and when she walked down the aisle in our wedding she was 4. A good deal of our life as a couple includes memories of her and her then baby sister (and now another little sister). I have a picture of her in a baby pool with a yellow Tupperware colander on her head (one of the only surviving kitchen utensils from my husband’s bachelor life). I have distinct memories of her refusing to call me “Auntie” until we got married, waiting for us at the airport when we came home from our honeymoon and years later asking me all kinds of questions about nursing a baby. She was the proverbial “other woman” in our relationship. The only other girl my husband truly loved (until her adorable sisters and our kids came along). In fact, the one time my husband cancelled on me when we were dating was when he called to say he was “hanging out with his niece” and wasn’t going to make it to see my friend play in a band. I could have been really angry after being stood up at the last minute by a guy I just started dating, but I think that was the moment I fell in love with him.
Over the years, my niece has grown into a confident, beautiful, intelligent young woman. These days, she is talking about fashion, learning to drive, and wants to go to college to become a nurse. She is a tennis player and an amazing student with unlimited possibilities for her future. But, to me she is still a little 4 year old who asked my why my legs were so prickly. Damn. My sister in law must shave every day.