I love being an aunt – that’s one of my greatest joys
My brothers are my best friends. The four of us grew up very close. We’re six years apart, top to bottom, and we’ve all had children in close succession. And although being a mother is my number one priority, being an aunt to their children is a unique gift that I never knew I missed until my first nephew arrived.
We were celebrating my second son’s first birthday when my sister-in-law gave birth. She didn’t realize it at first, being her first child, but we all got a surprise text that their son was born. He is the third generation boy with the same nickname as my father. He was special from the second he was born. I went to visit them in the hospital that morning and the second I opened the door I was so overcome with emotion that I immediately burst into tears. Watching my brother hold his son made my heart smile. The second he was placed in my arms, I loved him. I knew he would forever hold a place in my heart and that he and my boys would become best friends.
Collectively, my brothers have four sons and two daughters. They were all born within nine years, with two of my four children with freckles in the middle. Our children are extremely close, several of them attend the same school. It has been important to my brothers and I that our children grow up as friends, just like we are. They have play dates and sleepovers and spend time having fun like kids do. And it gives me the opportunity to be someone different from the mother of my own children.
My nieces and nephews love to come to my house. They love it because it almost always looks like a blown tornado with toys and sundry items all over the place, so they never feel like they have to be on their best behavior. And that’s fine with me. I want them to play and have fun, not worrying about party ways or other demands that I place on my own kids when they go to someone’s house. A please and a thank you is a bonus, but it is not required. I know they like me and that’s enough. We have a giant pantry and it’s always the first stop. Aunt Coll’s house is full of kid-friendly snacks that are easy to grab and go. There are always Capri Suns and root beer and they can help themselves. I’m not sure what the rules are with them, but with me, everything is fine.
One of my nieces likes to wear her pajamas at my house if she comes after 3pm. She is more comfortable this way and insists that I prefer her to be in pajamas. If I know she’s coming, I’ll put mine on too. Who wants to wear a bra anyway? Throw me a long lambskin nightgown and Ugg slippers and I’m good to go. The beauty of being an aunt is that you don’t have to respect social norms. If everyone wants to run to Target and you don’t feel like getting dressed, Aunt Coll won’t force you. We just have to keep our lips tight around your mother, who would be mortified that I took you out in a JoJo Siwa dress and called it a dress.
My nieces and nephews love my minibus. It also falls under the post-tropical storm damage category, so it’s good to eat your fruit snacks on your back and throw the wrappers on the ground. I’ll get them back later. We also like to listen to very loud music with the sunroof open and all the windows down. Sometimes I play rap music with dirty words in it. We just laugh and keep it between us. Their parents know Aunt Coll loves this kind of music, so they really shouldn’t be surprised that I share Nelly with their children. It’s okay, they’re gonna learn it anyway, it might as well be from me.
If you get caught with your cousins at school, you might be lucky enough to go for ice cream, just because. If you’re with your mom and dad, you get a cone and that’s it. Aunt Coll will get you a burger, fries, soda, ice cream, and a second order of fries when you’re still hungry. I’m going to tease you and ask if you have any money and when you say no I’m threatening to let you do the dishes. When I tell you get in the car in the parking lot and you don’t listen and you start running in front of the car to be funny, I’ll also honk when you’re right in front of the hood and scare the shit out of you and just laugh.
Aunt Coll loves to go on adventures and will take you to the zoo, the nail salon or just to IKEA for breakfast. It’s always more exciting to go out if a cousin can come. It’s fun for my kids because their cousins are all very close in age. Girls are particularly lucky; all three were born in less than a year. They play dolls together and love to paint their nails. They wear matching swimsuits and sunglasses by the pool. Aunt Coll loves to spoil them with matching bows for the super cute ponies.
When it comes time for your birthday, I’ll do my best to find the perfect gift. From cool toys to giant garden signs, Aunt Coll wants your day to be memorable and fun. I want them to know how special they are to me and that I love them beyond measure. Sometimes I can go too far, but you’re just a kid once, and you deserve it.
My brothers are so important to me. I cannot imagine my life without them and their children regularly. Being an aunt is one of my greatest pleasures. I am able to be my best self for someone other than my own children. They expect me to take care of and love them, but for my nieces and nephews, I’m just a bonus. My children are just as lucky to have such great aunts and uncles who love them unconditionally.
As a parent, you need to set limits and set rules. Aunts don’t have to do this. Of course, you have to keep them safe and avoid making bad choices, but other than that, aunts are here to have fun. And I do my best to make things fun for them. I want my nieces and nephews to look back on their childhood and think it was better because I was there. I want them to know that I really care about them and foster their friendships with my children. And no matter what their parents say, they can drink soda all night long and have as much candy as they want when they’re with me. They might even be able to sneak into an R-rated movie. Aunt Coll has never seen anything …