Six years ago, she was born. I was still young, around 13 or so, and I barely knew what to expect. My family was already struggling with our own issues, and now, seemingly out of nowhere, my eighteen year old brothers daughter was born. She cried when I held her for the first time, I was scared but it was one of the euphoric experiences that I can remember. I was filled with emotions of joy and love, combined with fear and unease for what lied ahead. A few months had passed, and various discrepancies between the parents had led to their separation, causing us to not be able to see her for almost a full year. My brother was crushed, my parents were hurting for their son, and I felt stuck in between a rock and a hard place. I wanted to help my brother, but I felt powerless because I was young, and couldn’t find the words of consolement I was searching for. We were finally able to see her at a child services place in Chester after what felt to be nearly a lifetime, and she was the most beautiful thing. She warmed up to us after initial discomfort of meeting “new” people, and I had never seen my family happier. I believe at this point, her mother wasn’t a much a part of her life, so she was staying with her grandma and we were granted to have her stay with us every other weekend. Since then I’ve seen her, my brother, and even myself grow up in a plethora of ways. She’s gone through friends, toys, tantrums and now she's even in school. It feels like she was born yesterday to me and I am beyond happy to see how she’s matured and and I’m even more excited for what the future holds for her.
My brother and I have been through much together growing up. We come from an underprivileged family, I won’t go into details, but we’ve gotten through some rough times together and I don’t know where I’d be without having him there with me. When I found out he was really having a baby so young, I was dumbfounded, for me, him and for my parents. My family was understanding and did their best to help him through the process. Then in a moments notice, she was here. My brother was forced to grow out of his fixed mindset and quickly had to adapt to being a father. He was only eighteen or nineteen, how could he be ready to raise a child? He had to stop being a teenager and in an instant he became a man. My parents have been there for him, guiding him and offering advice on this road to adulthood. In the past few years since my niece was born he’s grown and adapted to this new part in his life, making sure that she grows up having a healthy relationship with her father and family, in the best way he can. Sophia means the world to him, and despite any hardships or any troubles he faces in life, I believe he’ll go through them for her.
Spending time with Sophia helps me find inspiration to keep going. Hearing her say “I love you Ben.” and hearing her laugh still touches my heart as if it were the first time I’ve ever heard it. Even when I struggle with my own problems, she’ll be in the back of my head, and I couldn’t bear to see myself fall apart as long as she’s still here, growing up, and looking up to her family members to stay strong throughout it all. Since she was born, I’ve matured inasmuch that I’m more focused on where I need to be going in life. I want her to see me as a source of inspiration and I hope to be a part of her life through it all. She’s a beacon of love and hope in my darkest times, and when it comes time for me to have children of my own, I hope I will have learned invaluable lessons from her to adopt towards them.
The bond between child and parent is one that knows no bounds, and truly is difficult to express in words. Love unfettered by jealousy or romance, it is one of the purest forms of compassion between people. Looking at my brothers relationship with his daughter has shown me this and so much more. Transitioning into parenthood is a huge step for an individual and cannot be overlooked, but should be treated with the utmost certainty that you are now truly an adult. You have brought a new, precious life into the world who will see you as their first love. I see things on the news about parents mistreating their children and it only conjures up images of my niece, and that is heartbreaking. When I have children, I will treat them as the center of my universe, giving all I can to make sure they grow up as kind and caring individuals. I’ll help them learn how to act towards others and how to be patient, because as I’ve learned, good things come to those who wait. As they mature, I’ll try to give them opportunities to grow on their own, without smothering them and treating them like children, that only breeds resentment. These ideas and lessons are adopted from how my parents raised me, and how I’m seeing my brother raise his own daughter. To treat your own offspring, or someone you’ve come to know as your own, with disdain is truly a shame, and only brings contempt and slows the growth of a mind whose possibilities are endless.
Sophia, you’ve shown me what it truly means to care for something. If you ever read this, I love you more than I can express, and I cannot wait to see you grow and flourish.
Your Uncle Ben