This month, my eldest nephew will graduate from high school. It's hard to believe he could possibly be that old! But he is ready for the next chapter, and it's exciting to see what is in store for him.
And behind him, in rapid succession, two of his sisters and two of his cousins will follow suit.
Rewind 19 years ago: my husband and I and his brother and wife were still relative newlyweds, both couples beginning to think about starting families. And my in-laws** were excited at the prospect of both of their sons soon giving them grandchildren. But I don't think they knew quite what was on the horizon.
Snap - in a period of 2 years and 9 months, my in-laws had 5 grandchildren! My brother- and sister-in-law were gracious enough to have twins, making that number possible. Suddenly, we were getting together for births, baptisms and birthday parties. Holidays were fun, crazy and often exhausting. My in-laws were thrilled with the almost-instant big family.
And the grandchildren kept coming. . .in 13 years, the grand total was 10 grandkids. Family get togethers are awesome. There are kids everywhere, playing games, putting on shows and laughing. It's the best.
The kids seem to have naturally fallen into two groups. The older five (currently known as the teens, though this summer two more will join that category) and the younger five. And for this year only, all five of the teens are in high school. It's been great to watch them become friends over the years, and as teenagers, stay in touch on their own now.
When the first five kids were 2 and under, it was hard to imagine the day when they'd all be in high school. Impossible, really, to imagine what our lives would look like. We had no way of knowing how fun teenagers would be, and what a blessing these cousins would be to each other. And now, my nephew will be the first to bring on a new change: college. I pray that all these cousins (including the cousins on the other sides of their families as well) will stay close -- that they will share their new adventures with their closest family members. It has been and will continue to be a joy to watch them grow together. There is only more beauty to come!
** When I hear the phrase "in-laws", I often think of the 1991 version of Father of The Bride, when Steve Martin is on his way to Bel-Air to meet his daughter's future in-laws. He isn't thrilled and doesn't like the phrase "in-laws". He says: "What does it mean anyway? That we're legally bound to these people? I don't wanna be in-lawed, especially to people who live in Bel-Air!" This scene is just before he almost gets attacked by the Dobermans and falls into the pool If you haven't seen this movie, watch it immediately. You can thank me later.
And let me also take a moment to say that my in-laws are THE BEST. My husband's parents and his brother and his family are not "in-laws", they are simply family. I am ever so thankful for the blessing of more family!