I Am Blessed

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.

About Heather Allais

Heather lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She works as an Administrator in a school. Heather received her honours degree in Fine Arts and a higher diploma in Education from the University of the Witwatersrand. After teaching for 12 years, 10 of which were at Kainon School at the New Church Westville, she studied for and received her Masters in Religious Studies at the Theological School of the Bryn Athyn College. Heather worked for General Church Outreach for 4 years before returning to South Africa. Heather is an active member of The New Church Buccleuch serving on the church board holding the Outreach portfolio, leading Children’s Church, singing in the church band, serving as greeter, sound engineer and usher. Heather also serves as the Administrator of the South African Corporation of the General Church. Heather is a keen tribal belly dancer and quilter, and has recently joined the Johannesburg Symphony Choir. Quality time is set aside for her family.

4 thoughts on “I Am Blessed

  1. This is SUCH a true thing in my life, too. I always wanted a big family, and as a ‘single auntie’, I have a huge one (19).
    I live next door to 6, and it is such an honour as you said, to have siblings who trust me with their children. I love your description of respecting the parenting styles of each set of parents.
    I just spent several hours yesterday with a teen niece, reading a wonderful book together, talking about life, laughing and having tea.
    I take my tea breaks next door to snoozle the baby.
    Blessed is the right word.
    Thanks for highlighting this special use…

    1. Thank you, Heather.
      You are blessed. Your family is blessed to have you. We all are, I guess, if we have good places to serve. Thank you for making me think again about some special aunties in my life as a kid. No doubt about it, they had special time for us and different energy than Mom, and I learned from them. My one regret about being a mom is that it has left me so little time to be Aunty Ann. But I do steal chances sometimes for some tea and muffins and a chance to talk. My aunties had time and energy to just enjoy me, and sometimes moms are too busy raising the kid to enjoy them.

  2. ….Wow, I love the perspectives and insights I’m getting! You’re so right, Heather: there’s something so special about that ‘special auntie’! (And I love how Ann put it – a “different energy than Mom” – and how!!) I didn’t live near any of my aunties (special or otherwise 😉 ) and… looking back on it, they were all married and having their own kids, by the time I came along, or lived too far away to spend any real time with them. Gosh, now I’m wishing I’d had a special single auntie! :\ I missed out.

    I’m so glad you have such a great relationship with your nieces and nephews, and equally glad that they (and their parents!) have you. -And that you have this perspective. Thanks for sharing it with us, Heather! 🙂 Here’s hoping you have innumerable more memorable experiences with them yet.

    1. Your nieces, nephews and siblings are blessed too! It’s special to have an aunt or uncle that doesn’t have children because they have the energy to give a different type of attention. My brother is married and doesn’t have children. Although he lives across the country, my daughter and her cousins just love spending time with him and his wife!

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