One of the interesting things about parenthood is the constant conversation Niels and I have about how we want to raise our son. There are so many decisions that need to be made as we think about what traditions and values we want to pass on to Daniel. Fortunately, Niels and I communicate well and start pretty close to the same page.
Both Niels and I have benefit from "bonus families"--families that are not related to us biologically, but due to proximity (relatively speaking) and shared values, they have become families of our heart. In fact, our Daniel Joel was named after two men from our bonus families. Something that was understood, but not explicitly stated before this weekend was our desire to use family terms for people beyond our biological family members. For us, Auntie, Uncle, Grandpa and Grandma are terms of respect we use to show Daniel the safe people in his life. Now that we are parents, we are much more concerned about matters of safety, especially when we consider that there are those in the world that would wish harm on our son. We want him to know the people that we trust to love him and teach him the values that are important to us.
When Daniel has his tummy time, he plays on a quilt made by his Grandma Kennedy (and it has that name embroidered on the quilt). Every Friday, he sees his Aunt Ashley, who gives his mommy a break. This weekend, Daniel got to meet his Grandma Sandy, who used to be my neighbor in Grand Rapids. Sandy was first Bailey's Grandma, a title earned after she risked life and limb to save Bailey from a rainstorm on the deck on my condo while I was at work!
We love our biological family, but given the distance they all live from us, it's important to us to make our own family as well, so that Daniel knows and interacts with others who love him and who he can look up to as he makes his way in this world. We are very grateful for the Aunts and Uncles, Grandmas and Grandpas, both biological and sentimental that love our little boy.