On Bonus Grandparents

Today, Avery spent the day with Mimi and Ray-Ray. Neither Mimi or Ray-Ray have any blood relation to her, but they are grandparents nonetheless. And for that, I'm eternally grateful.

A little over six years ago, Avery's Noni (Mark's mom, Andi) passed away. For the several years prior to her death, Ray had been her companion. They married just a few months before she died. Although Ray only came into Mark's life when he was in his 20s, he has always treated Mark and me like family. Andi's death only solidified that.

In time, Ray found love and companionship in another woman, Barbara, known to her grandchildren as "Mimi." Mark and I attended their wedding. Like Ray, Barbara has always treated us as family.

My Aunt Teresa and I share no blood ties, but she is as much an aunt to me as any woman could be. Likewise with my Uncle Fred, her husband, and my cousin Dan, her son. Thanks to Teresa and Fred and Dan and others, my childhood was filled with family, even if they didn't meet the biological definition.

Family is what you make it. My parents were incredibly instrumental in making that true for me. Because of them, I'm working hard to make it true for my daughter. For both of us, it has been truer than I could have imagined.

Avery spends two days each week with Grandpa and Grandma, who is technically her "step-grandmother," but who is her grandmother and family in the absolutely truest sense of the word. The love between Avery and Grandma is apparent to anyone who sees them together.

Mimi and Ray-Ray brought Avery home this evening and then stayed for dinner. As I cooked, I watched Avery laugh and giggle as her Ray-Ray tickled her. She did puzzles with her Mimi. Her laughter bubbled through the house as she played with her bonus grandparents. Standing in the kitchen, observing this scene, it was impossible not to be grateful for the incredible bounty of love with which our daughter is blessed.

Amma and Putty (my parents), Grandpa and Grandma (Mark's dad and step-mom), Mimi and Ray-Ray, Avery's Aunt Jenna, Uncle Tyler, and Aunt Becky, her cousins, not to mention the numerous great-aunts, great-uncles, and dear family friends who make up Avery's village -- so many people who love our daughter, who support us as parents. The old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" isn't really accurate.

It takes a village to make a family.

I wish -- and I know that Mark wishes -- that his mom had been here to meet our baby girl. I grew up never knowing one of my grandfathers. I know that nothing will ever replace Avery's Noni in her life.

But today, watching Avery with her Mimi and Ray-Ray, it was a stark reminder of how much our daughter is loved and cherished. It's not traditional, but its perfect in its way.

To all the people who love our daughter -- thank you. We could not be more grateful.


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