This morning I drove for almost two hours to hold my first niece! She's a tiny 6 pounds and change, with long, downy, strawberry blond hair and a red bow. I'm pretty sure she didn't come out with the bow, it's probably just her first accessory.
My brother and his wife looked like all new parents look: worn, happy, and maybe a little like deer in headlights. As soon as I walked into the room my brother, the one who I remember being covered in a slick of dirt from May to October, pointed directly to the anti-microbial liquid dispenser.
Nothing quite prepares you for your siblings becoming parents. These are the people you fought with, you hit with objects, who hit you back, who tattled on you, whom you scapegoated, and you remember with braces, bad acne, and an attitude (which was always worse than yours, right?) And now they are in charge of another human, just like you were.
I'm the oldest and was the first to have children, so I've never been an aunt. I wish I could tell my brother everything I've learned, but it would take days. Even then, is it our place to try to cram almost a decade of parenting into a few moments? Nope. Plus, they didn't listen about picking up their stuff before mom got home, what are the chances they'll listen now? I left him with only one suggestion: be his wife's biggest cheerleader, help her see she's doing the right thing, that you believe in her.
(I think he rolled his eyes.)
What has your experience with nieces and nephews been? Were you a parent or an aunt first?