Auntying

I have 8 niblings (not counting my friends kids that I think of as niblings) with another nibling planning to arrive later this year. I love being an Aunty and take my aunty role seriously – anything is acceptable to score favourite aunty points! (I don’t really expect my niblings to choose a favourite….just to have them like spending time with me is enough.)

Growing up I wasn’t particularly close to my aunts and uncles. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it when they came to visit, but for a start they didn’t live that close so visits weren’t that frequent, and secondly, my parents are the youngest of their families so my aunts & uncles were in their 40s when I was born, where as I was in my 20’s when my first 2 niblings arrived, which I think makes a difference to the relationships. It also meant when I became an Aunt, I decided I wanted to be an important part of their lives – I personally think kids can’t have too many adults that love them and want to spend time with them.

Another motivating factor to being a good aunty, was not having any adults I could talk to growing up. I wasn’t particularly close with my parents – not in a tell them everything/anything kind of way, and there were no other adults I felt I could go to if I needed someone. So I’ve always hoped I could be someone my niblings felt they could talk to, so if they needed another adult to have their back, they knew they could come to me.

Recently I had the privilege of hanging out with my teenage nibling – I was a bit worried they might be too cool for me, particularly with all my self-conscious, lacking in self-worth thoughts lately. But we have a fabulous time together, chatting about almost everything – even drugs and alcohol! The fact they felt they could talk to me about such things, maybe I have achieved what I wanted to – being an adult they trust. And then when their parent shared that this nibling felt they had a special bond with me……well, I might have cried a little bit.

I’ve read/heard comments in the past about how being an aunt is the best – cos you can hand them back at the end of the day, or when they get tired & ratty. And yes, to some extent this is true, it’s also the worst part of being an aunt – well an aunt thats childless at least. ‘Cos handing them back, saying goodbye, is often one of the hardest things, when you return to normal life, the house that’s no longer filled with the sounds of younger people, and the reality that you’re not going to experience parenting a teenager.

Because for all that being the favourite aunt is something I strive for – I’d have done that anyway, even if I’d been luck enough to be a mother to children on Earth. For all that I love my niblings to bits, it doesn’t fill the gap left empty by not having children of our own. Auntying and Mothering are two different things.

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6 thoughts on “Auntying

  1. My family never place any great importance on aunts and uncles and it always made me sad, as on my dad’s side I really liked them but there was no importance on spending any time with them. Ironically when I was in my 30s and moved back to Portland, I stayed in my uncle’s attic while waiting to buy my house, but honestly barely knew the guy when I arrived. On my mother’s side, she and her sister didn’t speak so we never knew our cousins. Along with that, I was so much younger than everybody else in my family (being an afterthought in that I was from my mother’s third marriage), when my brother had a kid, I was 15 and he was already married and living in another state (he’s 12 years older than me), so I never got to know my nephew who now is 30. The closest I got was when my little sisters were born when I was in Middle School that I only got to see them once a year when I would fly by myself to go see my dad. Unlike a lot of people who have been struggling with infertility, I neither have family nor friends with young children. Beyond a cousin that I’m not close to who had her first baby and lives in Canada (we temporarily bonded when she had a Miscarriage but then got pregnant right afterwards and gave birth 2 weeks after my due date for the child we lost )… The friends that we did have in the beginning of our infertility struggles either had teenage children or ironically one had gone through six miscarriages but didn’t consider herself battling infertility (she would actually get sarcastic and say we were in the same situation because she had no problem getting pregnant… Even though she never brought a baby to term… Then ghosted me when I started treatments).

    Kind of went off on a tangent there but I know what you mean about auntie-ing, just not from a family perspective. I’ve written in the past about how growing up I had older women in my life so I considered aunties, and I always loved working with children so I could be around little kids, but no damn way it’s the same or better than having little ones of our own.

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    • Tangents are good 😊 sorry I kept meaning to reply and then getting side tracked. Sometimes we need to choose family for ourselves, doesn’t need to based on blood or legal relationship.
      I think kids do well with more adults who love them & are important in their lives, takes a village and all that, but yeah being important and being their parent is definitely different.

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  2. I love being an auntie but at times it is really hard. Spending time with our niece and nephews gives us an insight into what our life could have been like if we had a family and when those times are over its just the 2 of us still. I try to be a good auntie but I know sometimes my own grief and sadness gets in the way. I am learning to manage it much better though so that I can fully enjoy the time that I do spend with them. I wouldn’t be without any of them, they are special little people that enrich our lives & hopefully they are enriched by having us in their lives xx

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    • Yeah I can find it hard too – esp as you say when the occasion is over and it’s back to just the 2 of you. I also find it hard when it’s bigger groups so the niblings are playing with their cousins, as I’d always hoped our kids would get to grow up with their cousins – so I’ve taken to seeing families on their own to make that easier.
      I try to remind myself too, that it’s ok to take time out from being a great Aunty so I can heal. Xo

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