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As many people have been saying, 2016 was the worst. The popular media focuses on the deaths of beloved celebrities (RIP Alan Rickman), civil unrest and the three-ring circus of an election. *Disclaimer- not getting all political here. Also even if I was, this is still my blog, so there! That is all*
Whereas, I would tend to agree there was a lot of junk that happened this year, there was some good too. Regardless, I have been feeling a little blue this holiday.

This year we did not get a little Christmas tree. We are having our living room floors redone and it would have been ridiculous to get a tree only to move it. I thought that I was going to be fine with this, but it made me pretty sad. On the other hand, there is still good things with the holidays- peppermint everything, Ed hung our Christmas lights, my annual holiday vacation. I am trying not to let things get me too down. I have a lot to be thankful for. You know that overly used statement of being “blessed.” But it is true.

How does any of this have to do with the title of this long overdue blog post, you might ask. Well, I will tell you. My mindset has been a little off lately. I may or may not being taking things wrong at times. But I am starting to understand what parents feel when their children grow up. And empty nest parents out there, it sucks.

It is no secret that I love my nieces. They have been my only shot at parenting. I can’t even fathom a life without them. But the last couple years it has been creeping up on me, that they are not going to need me more and more. Within 3 short years, Niece #1 will be off to college. Within 5 years, Niece #3 could be off as well. Then what? I have no idea. I guess I will have to get friends or maybe blog more. To be honest, it terrifies me.

One of the things that I am starting to realize is that some children might be preparing their family for this departure by their teenage years. Not some new profound concept, I know. It has been written about before. Comics do entire sets about it. The attitude that comes with some teenagers is outstanding. And I mean that with the highest level of sarcasm possible.

Last night, I think that I had one of the lowest aunt moments that I can recall. After arriving very late to Niece #3’s basketball game and basically missing the whole thing, I was feeling terrible. I watched these funny, stubborn creature come off the court with her friends and appear to be in the best mood. I even commented to her mom that she was seemingly pleasant. As if she was Dr. Jeykll & Mr. Hyde, by the time that she came over to talk to us, she had changed into the part-time evil 13 year-old that she is. I brought the kid a cupcake and she was still evil. I could find some solace in the fact that she was evil to her mom as well but somehow, it does not.

On top of that, Niece #1 was there, in the same gym but was with her friends and didn’t have time for me. That still stung but, if you are a 15 year-old, who would you rather hang out with? Your friends or your 40 sometimes aunt, albeit super cool aunt. The majority of the time the friends win.

How is this a big deal, you might ask? Really it is not. But I left this scene feeling beaten down. Neither of these amazing girls, who I love more than anything, could have cared less that I was there. I yelled at my poor husband to speed across town to make a portion of the game because I pride myself on being there for as many of these girls’ activities as possible, and it was killing me that I messed up the time of her game. And it mattered to no one but me. In fact, she thought that I had been there the whole game. Ouch kid, that one hurt.

It is going to get worse, isn’t it? I had hoped that 12 & 13 were the worst of the years, but the next few could be equally as bad. Niece #1 could get her driver’s license next year and then I won’t even be needed for transportation. The depression is beginning to spiral now.

I have to admit that I am feeling a little better today. The attitude is universal with those parental types in her life. And she is a teenager after all. And I do think back a couple of months to the same girl who met me outside the night her dog died and cried in my arms. Despite these angst ridden teenage years, I still love this girl. And will still come to every event possible whether she cares that I am there or not. I hope that she will look back some day and realize how lucky that she was to have parents that supported her but the world’s best aunt there every step of the way as well.

And I know that someday, at least one of these two creatures will have to choose my care options when I am old. So this night of heartbreak at a basketball will be a distant memory. One that I am sure one of the involved parties had no awareness of. (Little Chicken, I love ya, attitude or not).

Parents out there. My hat is off to you. What a heart wrenching job that you have undertaken. More power to you all. Hang in there, it seems the good outweighs the bad.