Can you remember a special single auntie? I think everyone should have one. I did. It was from her that I started hand crafts when I was very young. I went on holiday with her without my parents. She was very special. Aunties have a very special role to play in the life of children, and I think single aunties even more so.
I may not be a wife or a mother, but I have 6 children – 6 nephews and nieces. I’m not a wife or mother, I am an awesome aunt. My role as aunt is no less important or meaningful than mother or wife. It’s just different. It’s important. It’s valued. It’s blessed.
When I reflect on this blessedness I start to unpack the layers of love and trust. My siblings have encouraged my participation in the lives of their children. They willingly allow “Auntie Heather” to spend lots of time with their children. And support the activities that I do with the children. I asked them what my role as auntie meant to them. “Time off” was one response. “Time off” for the parents because I get to give my siblings a break from parenting. They have complete confidence in my care for their children – which in itself is such a blessing – to be trusted at that level. For this I am deeply appreciative. I am blessed.
I try to spend regular quality time with my nephews and nieces – tailoring our time together to what they are interested in or to introduce them to something new. I’ve taken a nephew to an air show to see various aircraft and display flying. I’ve taken nieces to a concert to see the Drakensberg Boys Choir perform. I’ve painted finger- and toenails in “Auntie Heather’s Salon”, and helped solve mini engineering puzzles in the treehouse. I’ve imagined a Mario Cart race track though the woods with a nephew. We’ve had fun together. They return to their parents happy, and that makes the parents happy, and I’m happy. These moments of happy togetherness have enriched and blessed my life. My hope is that these experiences have enriched and blessed the lives of my nephews and nieces. I am blessed.
I am always conscious to maintain the discipline and parenting style of each sibling during my interactions with their children. They have “loaned” me their children and I will safeguard their family unit. I will check with the siblings before I do anything – buy sweeties (candy), go on outings, have sleep-overs etc. I think it’s because I see myself as an extended part of the parenting team. And if my part in the parenting team is to give the parents time off for a date night or to do homework with their children – then I rejoice in that role. I am blessed.
I love my nieces and nephews unconditionally. They know this at their core. And they gave voice to this when I asked them what was special about aunties. “You love us.” My siblings highlighted this – “It is such a blessing to know that you and the family love our children.” What a gift to give love unconditionally. What a gift to have siblings provide me with a role in the parenting team. And the layers of love and trust unpack and weave back together creating a wonderfully caring environment for the children. I am blessed.
Do I regret not being a wife or mother? Yes, it’s only natural. But I have made peace with it. I get to lavish my love and attention on 6 nephews and nieces, and fulfil my role in the extended parenting team. Three extended parenting teams. How awesome is that? Not many people get this opportunity. I am blessed.