I’ve been a mother for fourteen years now. I’ve interacted with a lot of children in my life experiences. I’ve even been like an Aunt to my cousin’s children and her with mine. Yet, until that day my niece arrived I had never been an official Aunt. It is a different kind of relationship than being a parent.
When your kids are small, you often don’t notice the passage of time until it has already left a mark. Karen Kingsbury expressed this so well in one of her children’s books which talk about a child’s last of things in life. If only she had known it would be his last time curling up in her lap, how she would have savored that moment just a little more. It always makes me tear up to read because it is so true. No matter how much we hold them, they grow up right in front of us.
However, when you become an Aunt or Uncle you are aware the next time you see the child they will have grown just a little bit more. They will have developed just a little bit more intellectually or developmentally. So you use your time with them to really enjoy the moment. You may read to them a little longer at nap time and linger to watch their little sleeping face. You happily sit through another viewing of Little Mermaid for the third time in two days because they are sitting in your lap snuggling and talking about their favorite Disney princess.
There are things you were sometimes just to busy to enjoy as a parent that you take the time to do with a niece or nephew because this time you know your time is limited. When you see something adorable for them at the store you feel less guilt throwing it in your cart. You don’t have to mentally debate if this is spoiling the child, because that’s for their parents to worry about. When they are throwing a fit you just hand them back to your sibling with a mental grin. Didn’t we all have these moments growing up where we wanted to “get them back”? Now you can. Spoil their children and hand them back screaming. Oh, the joys of being an Aunt.
You love them unconditionally without the worry of how to raise them. There’s a certain carefree attitude you can suddenly adopt with this child that was different than your own. Are they using all of their manners? Watching too much television? Are they reading, talking, playing, and learning age appropriately? It doesn’t matter this time. How do you discipline them? You don’t.
I rather like this Aunt business. Don’t ask my little brother to grade me on it, though. He might not give me an A. I just remember how he spoiled my son rotten and release the guilt for spoiling his little girl right back. This time I know how he felt when my son arrived. I know why he always tries to do something special with him or get him a little trinket. My brother has known for a few years before me the joys of loving someone else’s child so much.
I can still remember the Aunt that has influenced so much of my life. She’s no longer on social media but I remember she always seemed to know when I was having a bad day. She’d randomly write an “I love you” on my wall with my little girl nick name. I cherished every one of those posts. My parents tried to punish me once when I was a young teenager for getting caught smoking by not letting me go to her house when we visited my grandparents. She showed up while they were gone and escaped with me anyway. She was willing to risk their wrath to have her time with me. She loved me like an Aunt.
I’m glad my family is close enough we can enjoy our roles in our children’s lives. I am so blessed.