What a Gift: Watching My Brother & His Wife Love My Kids


uncle with nephewI’m feeling extra grateful this month for close family and time together because I know firsthand, it doesn’t last forever. I lost my brother, Ryan, on Feb. 8, 2001 to a snowmobile accident and since that day, my relationship with Justin, my oldest brother, changed forever. 

We promised to be present in each other’s lives no matter what, because time together matters. Now, both married, we celebrate new life through Crosby, my baby boy, and my oldest son, Gordon. Justin and Kristina (his wife) love my children with their hearts and souls and it shows through how they live. I’m grateful and do not take them for granted. 

If you are blessed with someone who loves and adores your child in a way you’re thankful for — write them a note right now. Don’t wait.

If you are blessed with someone who loves and adores your child in a way you’re thankful for — write them a note right now. Don’t wait. It’s a gift to raise children in a world with people who want to help raise the next generation.

My brother and sister-in-law lovingly enforce their expectations of my kids and I like it. My 2½-year-old knows that he has to use his manners, be gentle (especially with Winnie, the beloved dog), talk in his big boy voice, and follow their house rules. But he doesn’t know that with those expectations we’re working together to shape him into a playful and kind human being.

In his world, visiting Uncle Justin and Auntie Tina rocks. He gets to drink hot chocolate, stuff his face with marshmallows, play all day, and push the monkey button (the ignition to start the Jacuzzi bathtub!). By letting family members embrace my kids and love them whole-heartedly, it tightens relationships and builds memories. That’s a gift.

While the kids enjoy some special toys at Justin’s house (an automatic choo choo train, fancy legos, dinosaur books), they love their aunt and uncle’s creative, gifted brains that play and entertain … like stringing Christmas lights into a mobile and turning cardboard into indoor downhill skills that mop floors.

Kristina sacrifices catching up with other family members during events because she’s busy playing tummy ball with Gordon (so I can talk to other adults), or teaching him a touchdown dance (which is funny because her only football reference is Ace Ventura!). She ensures – unsolicited – that they’re sent home wearing dry diapers and clean pants because she’s genuinely helpful. As a mom, that’s a gift.

My brother gets his nephews outside because he loves fresh air more than me. They play fetch, sled downhill, and run around the block. He’s giving my children memories of playing outdoors and that’s a gift. P.S. He could open a breakfast joint with his mad skills around the waffle maker, so the boys also love waking up at Uncle’s!

They’re invested in helping my children be kind, creative, and respectful kiddos. What more could I ask? They’re giving my family arguably one of the most precious gifts … time.

Wow. They’re really good people.

Justin and Kristina, I’m so lucky to call you family …

And to you, the reader: Who in your life needs to know how much you appreciate the ways they are helping raise the next generation in a positive way? Tell them now. Text them, call them, email them, mail a card. Just tell them! Because waking up tomorrow is not guaranteed. Loving others is such a gift.