Saturday, 7 September 2013

Meeting my niece for the 3rd 1st time

Meeting my niece for the 3rd 1st time
7 September 2013

My darling sister and her lovely family, are heading home to sunny South Africa, after a stint in the UK of over five years.  And my heart is overflowing with love and joy.  I quite simply can barely contain my excitement.  A part of me has been missing, and I’m longing to have it back.  I need to feel whole again.

During their time abroad, they managed to come home for one family vacation.  A most glorious occasion.  However for the rest, we’ve had to rely on phone calls, email, sms’, WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook.  All marvellous inventions and wonderful communication tools, yet still they seem so lacking.  Inadequate substitutes, for real face to face contact.

We’re doing a daily countdown and counting off sleeps.  Willing the days away in our eagerness to see them again.  And luckily for us, they arrive a day before schools break up, and so there will be much merriment over the holidays, at my mother’s home in Tulbagh, Muisnes.  The cousins are looking forward to reconnecting and seeing one another again.  And having a bit of down time from school, in order to facilitate this bonding, is a wonderful stroke of luck.

Yet I find myself in a rather odd position, of looking forward to meeting my niece, Honey, again for the third first time.  And bizarre though that may sound, it is technically true.  I played a role in her life up until the age of eighteen months.  Katrine and I lived about forty minutes’ drive from each other and we’d meet up quite often, and just hang out for a morning, whilst my older kids were at school.  Alternatively while Robin would be away on a tour, she’d come and spend a night or two with The Pottie.  Such a fabulous treat for us all.

But wonderful as those times might have been, I fear that quite obviously, Honey will have no recollection of them.  It stands to reason.  In addition, we did family weekends away at the holiday house, Kleinbaai.  Giant family get-together days at my grandparents, and fantastic sleepover visits to my mom.  These were awesome, as one really bonds so well, when you’re away together.

And then, in the blink of an eye, it seemed that they had left.  England seemed a universe away.  Not just a mere continent.  And at 18 months old, Honey was hardly an awesome conversationalist over the phone or Skype.  So keeping our relationship alive was difficult.  And I suspect she must have thought that I was the loud lady that lived in the computer when we did attempt to Skype.

Luckily for us, the Aulds were able to do one golden family vacation.  And so at just over two and a half years of age, we all got to “meet” Honey again.  She was positively edible!  A real little cutie.  However, I suspect we were all a little bit too much for her.  Loud and overbearing.  And let’s not forget the sheer numbers factor – us Lombards outnumbered the Auld family (then only three of them, as Alex and Cory weren’t living with them yet) by quite a lot.  It took Honey most of their holiday, to vaguely acclimatise to our huge family and to sharing her mother’s attention.  Perfectly understandable and it must have been completely overwhelming for her.  And then, just as she was warming up to us all, she was gone again.

And now I’m looking forward, with bated breath, to meeting my six and a half year old little niece once more.  We’ve managed to build up a relationship of sorts, via our various means of communication.  And as regularly as I see photos of her, on my sister’s Facebook, so too she “sees” me on mine.  The cousins already have strong bonds and adore one another.  Sending gifts and cards, even letters has most certainly helped.  Still, “meeting” her for the third first time should be really special.

At six years old, she can now hold her own conversation.  She has her own tastes.  In fact, if Katrine is to be believed, she’s rather strong willed and knows exactly what she wants.  She has a favourite band, her own unique style of dressing, cute little sayings, British accent, etc.  And so I believe that once the oddity of seeing one another again, has passed, we’ll become firm friends.  And have very regular contact again.  In fact I’m setting my sights on being her favourite aunt.  Yes, yes, I know – I’m her only aunt.  But still.  I’m the cool, funny aunt.  The one that spoils a lot, pays lots of attention to her and has her back.

Family is special and I value the people in mine dearly.  I have sorely felt the absence of those not here.  And I look forward to increased family get-together chaos, as our numbers will grow a bit again with the pending Auld arrival.

However, I have come to realise, that much as we have lost out on, we have gained most certainly too.  I suspect that we will from this point on, have a deeper appreciation of our accessibility to one another.  Of not having the restraints of the cost of an overseas flight between us.  And time zones too.

Furthermore, as much as I have missed out on the regular day to day life of my precious little niece, so too my sister has missed out on my three kids. 

Gone are the three year old, five year old and nine year old of five years ago. 

And so in a few days’ time, not only will I be meeting my niece for the third first time again, I will also look forward to introducing my sister to my fifteen year old teenager.  My eleven year old tween.  And my nine year old big boy.

Happy times to follow indeed!

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Little Miss Honey Auld enters the world on the 11th of March 2007 - Welcome little girl!  We love you lots already!

Proud Dad, Robin, showing off his gal just after she's been born

Having a little naked girl cuddle - too cute!
An Auld farewell

Big family doo to give the Aulds a grand send-off

And they're visiting us!  Taking Honey for a walk at Kleinbaai.

Bonding with the galla
These are the three kids that said goodbye to my sister and their cousins
And after their holiday
And now.  Huge difference.  Time for a catch-up me-thinks.

1 comment:

  1. Can't believe it is going to happen!
    I think it warrants taking your kids out of school for a day!