In my purse tucked away in the pockets somewhere is a small Polaroid picture of a little girl who stole my heart, from the very moment she made her entrance into the world. Anyone who has a niece will know that there is a special bond, almost difficult to explain, the moment you are handed a baby who may as well be your own. Freya Ysobella was the most beautiful baby girl and stirred up many emotions in me that I have since experienced with my own children.
As my first niece (I have two) I have watched her grow into a beautiful young lady who very much knows her own mind. She is bright and intelligent, sensitive and very clever. She has a good heart and is very passionate about what she deems to be right and wrong. Indeed her younger sister and my own daughter are all ‘cut from the same cloth’ and they are spirited to say the least.
Over the years there have been ups and downs – most noteably the day we took her to the park and pushed her on a big swing, of which she promptly fell off. We then took her to the sweet shop to try to bribe her silence. Her silence could not be bought. As she grew up she found her love of dance, regularly twirling down supermarket isles and singing the words to her favourite songs.
She also loves politics or rather social behaviour, and I am not sure how someone so young can be so aware of the elements of our society, our rules and human rights but she is. She always tells us that one day she will be the Prime Minister of our country. I do not doubt this for a single second. She is determined, very determined, but in a Martin Luther King sort of way which may not necessarily suit the current climate of politics and party ‘values’ that we all know. I truly hope she does go down this path because I need to believe that the next generation will bring with them a new honesty and integrity to our country. More than anything I hope that she does not have her spirit knocked out of her because it is so refreshing to see.
Last year I faced the most difficult conversation that I have ever had with her. She knew something was wrong, she sensed it, and we had to tell her. I wondered to myself – how on earth do I tell someone so young who depends on me so much that I am very ill? So I wrote her a card and bought a small keyring, and reassured her that I would be alright when I in fact had no idea that I would be. I felt like I was shattering her childhood and her innocence all in one go, but the reality of life meant that honesty was the only way. Without a shadow of a doubt it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. At the time it felt like the younger the person was, the harder it was to tell them – and so we hugged and she was brave, and I willed myself not to cry.
A year on, and she has changed beyond recognition. She is leggy and tall (now my height). She shares adult conversation and attempts to teach me things about technology and teenagers, neither of which I am ready for. As all teenagers seem to do she regularly disappears into her room craving space and time to grow into herself. A once quiet girl now clashes with her mum with a cheek and opinion that I know awaits me too when my own reach teenage years.
We recently took her to a concert and she came along as one of the girls. She wore a leather jacket and jeans and a t- shirt with a touch of makeup and she just looked stunning. It almost panics me to see how fast she is maturing and the pressure of guiding her along the right path is always on my mind. I needn’t worry though because it is quite evident that she has her head screwed on the right way. She is sensible (for the most part) and I know that part of growing up will mean letting her go to find her own way, and to make her own mistakes.
It always makes me smile when she asks my opinion or permission because she is met by exactly the same response her own mother would give her, and I remind her that her mother and I are sisters and so essentially the same person (much to her frustration). She has two other Aunties too who are just like me and she is a lucky, lucky girl.
As her Auntie, I hope that I will be there for her as her shoulder to cry on when her heart is broken for the very first time. I hope I get to see her on the day she gets her exam results or even on the day that she graduates. I would love to help her settle into her first home or even have tears in my eyes as she walks down the aisle one day. I would love to be there for all of those things, so much so that I almost dare not say it out loud, in case it should never come true.
My complicated gorgeous niece is without doubt one of the things I am the most proud of in my life, and I did not even make her myself – but I might as well have.
To my Freya Belle, love you x
(p.s Lauren you are doing a fantastic job)