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Mother Bear. Papa Bear.

I was 19 when my professor asked me if I was a mother. He told me he had noticed that I always had extra everything on me, towels, ibuprofen, pens, you name it. He had also noticed I helped others in the class a lot. I laughed in his face at the question and told him my age. Months later that same professor would ask me to be his TA and years later he would ask me the same question again. This time though he noticed something else. A girl in the class was getting made fun of when she wasn't there and even my professor had joined in a bit, and to the lot of them I said: "I thought we were here to study a skill, not critique a classmate." The girl in question had schizophrenia. It was noticeable even on medication, but she loved this class and she loved painting. I remember looking at her paintings, with strokes of oil as thick as Van Gough's and wonder if that was how chaotic her mind felt. Her paintings held emotion and portrayed exhaustion. I remember at that point, I who normally stayed to myself, started talking about art with her everyday we had class. She would brutally critique my art, and I would less brutally critique hers. Soon she asked me questions about how I mixed my colors. Her paintings became brighter, almost happier. I can't say it was because we had become friends, but I do think it may have been because she felt less alone.

My boyfriend has noticed the mother bear trait too. He has seen me with my nice and nephews. I babysat them once in an emergency type of situation, while my sister was just ending a relationship with a man who had punched a hole in the wall when he was angry. Luckily the kids didn't witness it, or how he pushed my sister into the wall while she was pregnant. The kids did wake up though, because of the noise. So by the time I got there I had a crowd of 3 awake children. One of the boys was confused and asked his mom where she was going and if he go with her. In her emotional state she yelled no and he ran and hid under a table. My niece and the youngest were distracted by Netflix. So I sat by the table and rubbed his back as he cried. I told him it is ok to be sad and confused but we really missed him.

I looked back at my niece and nephew and said "don't we?" Both of them nodded eagerly from the couch.

He didn't want to budge so I said "Well I guess I'm spending the night over here because I really wanted hang out with you."

I continued to sit next to him, the other kids wanted to be with me so they joined. "Do you guys think you two can be really silly so that your brother can laugh?" I asked. Once again the kids nodded in eager agreement.

They tried all sorts of silly ridiculous things. He stopped crying and I could see the smile on his face even though he was still trying to look upset. My youngest nephew ended up farting which was the icebreaker we all needed. We ended up laughing hysterically together, especially when he got startled by the noise of his own gas.

Later that night when the nephews were asleep, my niece who is the eldest of the siblings asked me where her mom's boyfriend went.

I looked at her "He's sick honey, you know how you get colds or coughs and it feels like your body isn't working right?"

She nodded.

"Well sometimes people can get sick in a different way. Sometimes they get angry and sad when they shouldn't and they need to get help from a doctor to fix it." It was the best explanation I could offer.

"Will he come back?" She asked.

I paused, "No, he can't he has to go away and get proper treatment."

"He didn't want to be my dad either." She said looking down. "They all just leave."

"Hey, you look at me. He didn't want to go, he had to. I'm sure he loved you very much. But he wasn't healthy enough to take care of you the way you deserve." I looked at her trying to understand.

"My real dad went to Florida, but he wasn't sick."

"Yeah, but a real dad doesn't leave his kids and never visit or call, he may of helped make you but a real dad would shower you with love. You know you are loved right? I love you, your mom loves you, your uncle, grandma and grandpa..."

She nodded.

"You can call me if you ever need reminding and I promise I will either answer right away or at my first chance, Ok?"

She nodded again. "I love you Auntie."

"I love you so much." I said and bombarded her face with a bunch of kisses, she giggled in response.

Sadly this was my third date with Colin, and he saw all of this. I looked at him looking uncomfortable.

"I'm sorry," I said, "but this is my life and It's not changing anytime soon, so if it bothers you..."

"Jess." He interrupted "None of this bothers me, I just wish I could help more."

In my past my ex had encouraged me to separate myself from my sister and her kids, because it wasn't my "responsibility." But Colin told me how he fell in love with me more that night because he saw how much I loved those kids and how much they loved me back and he knew what kind of mother I would be.

My sister ended up getting an abortion. I mourned the loss of that child but understood that my sister did not want to be tied in any way shape or form to this man. She told me for the first time in a long time she chose herself. Sometimes I feel sad for the child I will never know, and sometimes I feel upset that my sister had to lay on that table and go through that alone. I have prayed for everyone in that situation, I wish she could have opened up and let me be there for her in which ever way she needed.

Later my sister found Her now fiance and he has been a rock to her and her kids. He plans to legally adopt her children. I know God blessed my family with him. He is so strong and has been patient with my sister. She has become so calm with him, and her kids have love of a father. My beautiful sister and her fiance just introduced a baby girl into this world recently and her home is full of love, laughter and light.

I was brushing my Niece's hair recently and she said, "Auntie?"


"You think GL can be my daddy?"

I was almost in tears. I paused "Only if you want him to be, but I know he wants to be."

She grinned, "Yeah he does."

"Do you want him to be your dad?"

She smiled and nodded.

"Well then he already is."

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