Photo illustration by Jake Weir/B&W Staff

Edit desk: Aunt-hood changed my life


I feel as though I am not a very responsible person.

Simona Shur

I do my schoolwork, cultivate strong friendships, care for my family and explore my passions. However, I happen to have a volatile and spontaneous personality, making it hard for me to commit to anything long-term. I have an inner drive to make the world a better place but I lack something propelling me to do so.

That changed with the birth of my niece.

When her brother, my nephew, came into the world, I was too young to understand the gravity of being an aunt. I threw the role onto the backburner and focused on my 16-year-old self rather than this new exciting life. I was too immature and naive to comprehend what this baby boy meant to me and the family.

Fast forward to my freshman year in college. My niece was born in early April, a month out from summer break. It felt wrong not to be home, not to be with the family at such an important time. Upon my return back home in mid-May, I threw myself into her life, dedicating my summer to becoming her best friend.

I was the first person to ever make her laugh. She had a fascination with my thumb, loved her bouncy chair and was a very enthusiastic eater. She loved grabbing onto my hair and putting it in her mouth, and sometimes I would let her despite the pain of a surprisingly strong baby’s grip. I looked forward to seeing her above anyone else. My niece made that summer the best one of my entire life.

Now that I am back at school, she has forgotten who I am and is confused whenever I try to pick her up. I understand that distance is difficult for babies in terms of memory retention, but it still makes me feel defeated when I can’t make her laugh or when she squirms to get out of my arms. 

I know that my next few years in college won’t help this issue. As a result, I funnel my desire to be her loving and protective aunt into different activities.

My family lives in the Bay Area in California. Every year, the air is plagued with smoke and ashes from the wildfires, and homes perish in seconds in the all-consuming flames. I do not want this small child to grow up in a state of fear surrounded by this devastation and horror. 

In hopes of building a safer future for my niece and my state, I plan on becoming an environmental lawyer. I want to hold the companies accountable that contribute to this annual burning and to fight the corporations that illegally dump or cover their tracks. I want my niece to look up to me and be able to grow up in a community that is not exposed to these fires. I want to provide her with the safest future possible, no matter the costs. 

Ever since the birth of my niece, I have taken my role of being an aunt more seriously. Every child deserves a safe and healthy upbringing, and I will do anything in my power to help my niece and nephew attain the future they so rightfully deserve. 

These kids propel my need to succeed in my future career, and make me want to work harder and be better. Before the birth of my niece, my priority was myself. Now, she is my priority.

Maybe I will be more responsible now.

Simona Shur is an associate news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected].

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1 Comment

  1. Amy Charles ‘89 on

    That was gorgeous, Simona. Sounds like you’re already there. And she’ll also forget not remembering you. You have big smiles ahead.

    Take a lot of science and learn to understand stats. Few things will help you more in assembling your evidence than knowing who’s got data that really tell a story, who’s at the forefront of modeling whatever phenomenon you’re looking at. Make friends with the best science journalists (and avoid the ones who don’t bother to understand the science).

    Good luck to you and your niece—

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