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.