My extended family is rather large and spread out across the country. I have aunts and uncles older and close to my parents’ age, an aunt that is only a few years older than myself and cousins we are waiting to arrive just months from now.
As far as cousins in my generation though, I am one of the oldest.
My mother’s niece, Cousin K, got married last August and I had the privilege of being a bridesmaid to support her union. I have years of memories of our childhood together celebrating holidays, birthdays, births and even some deaths. She is six years younger than I am, the same age as my youngest brother. As kids, there were only a few times that our age difference stood out to me, like early morning wake-ups when all the grown-ups were still sleeping and Cousin K would come to me singing, “Unny-nut, Emmy, Unny-nut” which simply meant she wanted me to pour her a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Or the first years of my teen drama, boyfriends and make-up while she was still curious about Barbies and watching cartoons.
Since neither of us have sisters, I think there is a mutual feeling of sisterly love and admiration, especially as we have gotten older. We certainly talk and relate more now. The first time she came to visit me as an adult was about six years ago, the very same weekend we sold our house. We joke that she was our good luck charm.
It’s a strange feeling when your childhood and adulthood meet. The first time my youngest brother came to visit me in Michigan, The Tortoise was only four and The Hare was just a few months old. It was probably the first time we had spent an extended period of time together without our parents. He got to see first hand what kind of wife and mother I am. I remember it being a wonderful visit for all of us, and when he left I made sure to pack him a lunch and gave him some extra money for the airport food court. I might have even asked him to please call or text me when he got home so I knew he was safe. A few days later my mom told me that my brother raved about what a great time he had at our home.
I think his exact words were, “And Mom, she’s like a real grown-up now.”
This summer my Cousin K and husband came to visit for a week. We were all excited about spending time with both of them, carefully planning the itinerary. It was like our childhood all over again, only this time, it was my children we were entertaining. One afternoon I had both of my girls in the car, one of their friends, and Cousin K. A favorite song popped on the radio, causing the three girls in the back seat to belt out stage quality performances. Of course, I had to join them, complete with head wobbles and arm extensions. After all, I am the karaoke queen.
“MOM!” shrieked The Hare, “SERIOUSLY?”
“What?” I asked innocently.
“That is so uncool!” she said, rolling her eyes.
Cousin K immediately started to giggle.
“You too?” I said.
“I just never thought I would see the day someone thought you weren’t cool. You were always the coolest kid I knew growing up,” she said.
“Oh great,” I sighed, “the truth has been revealed. I hope you’re not too disappointed.”
“Actually,” she smiled, “now you are one of the coolest moms I know.”