I've always known I was going to have kids. Probably a lot of them. I grew up in a family of 4 kids and adored it, and I hope to have a good little nest of children someday because siblings are an absolute blast. There's really nothing like them. My mother-in-law used to tell my husband and his siblings when they were little, "God has chosen you all to be best friends for life."
And that's really the best way to explain it. It's a wonderful relationship that's unique and lasting. I wrote a post a while back about my lifelong wish to have a sister, but I really wouldn't trade my 3 brothers for anything.
But then there's aunthood. It's kind of a state of being, it's a calling. A calling that's completely out of your control. It's powerful. It redefines your identity. I entered aunthood almost four years ago, when little bebe Abigail was born. She was so cute and pink and big-headed and life-changing. Watching her grow has been...insane. Crazy, brilliant, exciting, scary, shocking, wonderful. It absolutely makes my own life seem so much faster. When you're able to track your own days by the constant changes in a child, you realize how quickly it all goes by.
I'm just going to be completely honest with you all and say that I don't naturally like kids. I know it's a horrible thing to say, but I also know that I'm not alone. (Please tell me I'm not alone?)Being around kids doesn't come naturally to me. My husband is the one who is going to be an absolute natural, the one who I think has wanted to have kids since he himself was a child. He has always wanted to be a dad.
I'm the weird one who is totally fine not to hold the new baby. Who has to restrain myself from disciplining random kids because they're driving me crazy. The one who has really naive and ridiculous views on how to parent because oh boy if that was MY child... I'm the one who talks to children like they're adults because I can't stand baby talk, and because I don't even know how to gush over them. Instead I say things like, "What's shakin'?" or "Sup?"
I'm the girl that never babysat in my teenage years because I'd rather be broke than spend my days with little kids. I know I'm a terrible human. I would normally make jokes about it but it's honestly something that scares me. What if I'm a terrible mom? What if I don't even like my kids? I don't like most kids. It's the truth. I'm really sorry about that, especially if I've side-eyed your kids before.
Which I probably have.
But here's the really beautiful light at the core of this post: being an aunt.
Oh gosh, if becoming a mom is even more transformative than being an aunt, I can't wait to be that woman. Abby opened up a brand new corner of my heart that I didn't even know existed. I now have 5 nieces and nephews, and I love them all so much. Which is the great thing about love - it isn't stingy, it doesn't deplete, it multiplies. Despite my fears about being a mom, not having kids has never been an option for me. My dad once told me that he has always grieved for childless couples who decided when they were young that they never wanted kids and insist they're better off without them - because they'll never truly know. The joy, the transformation, the purpose, the legacy. They couldn't possibly have understood the gravity of their decision when they made it. And maybe they never will - or if they do, it'll be too late.
Even in my short 26 years I've seen career-minded couples devastated by their inability to have children in their late thirties and forties because they thought for sure they didn't want kids, that their lives were too busy and important to have them. I could talk for a long time about what I believe about children (hint: it's in the Bible), and how I think this generation is incredibly selfish (I'm lookin' at myself here too. Hiiii), but of course it's not up to me to make those decisions for other people. And I'll stop myself before this becomes a totally different post. But I absolutely want kids. I don't want to put myself above the future of our family, and what it will be like when I'm 80 to have children and grandchildren surrounding me. People who are literally a part of me. I want to be that old lady surrounded by loved ones.
Abigail is the oldest of my nieces and nephews and is now at the age where I can actually talk to her, and tell her secrets. I can see her eyes light up when she sees pretty clothes and jewelry (I can't even handle the excitement of our future shopping trips together), and I have a front row seat to observe her developing her own tastes and interests. She is a fabulous little creature and I love being close to her.
Being an aunt is the best because:
1. I am a precious one in her life.
This is an honor, you guys. I'm already in the core of her life, by no merit of my own. I have the power and the blessing of being there for her. There are a few people in every child's life that will always be there as big influencers in their development. The immediate family is first, and then come the outer rings. Friends and extended family. Realizing the preciousness of our relationship, the honored role that I have in her life, is quite humbling and miraculous. It's real and it's for life.
2. There is a deeper connection with my siblings.
Watching someone become a parent is quite revolutionary. It changes them and changes the relationship, and the fact that they flipped the switch and changed the rest of us into aunts and uncles makes it a much deeper and more meaningful connection. And the rest of us are no longer just siblings; we're a part of this joyous little club of aunts and uncles. We're no longer bonded by just the past, but by the future as well. Those relationships take intention, patience, love, honesty, hard work and understanding. Loving someone's children is like the white stuff in the center of the Oreo. It's important.
3. It is a small taste of parenthood.
Emphasis on the small. You get real-life examples of what being a parent is like, but you get to leave. You don't have to stick around for the tantrums or the blow-outs. When everyone's sick or exhausted or teething, you can just peace out and go to brunch. Sip that mimosa and chillax. It's a great wake-up call for snobby childless folk who claim to have all of the answers, because parenthood is no joke. It's the real deal. You learn so many lessons by being an outsider looking in. It's enlightening and, for those of us planning to be parents, preparatory.
4. I have a beautiful new friend.
As an aunt, I'm family, but I'm also something else entirely. The calling of being an aunt transcends into an opportunity for real friendship with a child who loves me, looks up to me, and confides in me. I remember being a little girl and having a few young women in my life that I worshiped and adored. I was absolutely fascinated by their lives and wanted to be just like them. I love being on the flip side of that now, watching these kids grow and falling in love with the people they are becoming. I want to be their best friend. In a responsible, auntie-like way, of course.
And being an aunt is my favorite thing.