I recently became an aunt for the first time. Very recently (June 26th, to be exact) my nephew was born. Even though I haven’t known him for very long, the first time I held him, I lost my heart to that little boy. Although I only held him for a few minutes, I would have been content to hold him in my arms for hours. He snuggled against my chest and fell asleep in my arms – and I softly whispered how much I loved him, how beautiful he was, gave him a few light kisses on the top of his head, and then I sang a little lullaby to him. All this to say, that while I want to be a wife and a mother one day, that day seems far on the horizon; for now, I’ll be more than content as an auntie.
There are certain things that being an aunt or uncle brings you that being a mother or father does not. For one, you can utterly appreciate their cuteness and their fresh new-baby smell, velvety soft skin, and the way they love to snuggle you. You don’t mind if you have to change the occasional diaper or mop up the spit-up from your shirt that you were planning to donate anyway. But, then again, you don’t have to wake up with them eight times during the night to feed and change them – but you gladly would if you were asked.
You can give them little gifts and presents when you see them and you probably won’t be labeled as spoiling them rotten – unless you see them all the time. You don’t always have to bring a new stuffed animal or a new outfit, but maybe a knitted burp rag or a small container of baby lotion could be great ideas. But when they are newborns, even relieving their parents for an hour so parents can eat or shower (or take a power nap) is a gift in itself. Or driving to the store to pick up more formula or diapers or laundry detergent or another pack of onesies can take a weight off their parents’ shoulders.
When they get a little bit older, you become the really cool figure in their life. It’s not that they don’t love their parents (they do), but they are surrounded by them constantly. So, you casually step in to take your nieces and nephews to the park or the zoo or the pool when it’s 103 degrees outside and their parents are drained. You don’t mind reading out loud to the kids (because, chances are, you haven’t had to read them the same book 87 times this week) and you love it when they ask you to color with them. Or watch a Disney movie with them (even if you turn it into a sing-along). You do these things not only because you love them as people, but because it gives you the chance to become a kid again and find joy and wonder and your imagination. You can take a paper towel roll and suddenly you have a telescope and are on a pirate ship, looking for the buried treasure with your faithful little captain. Or you can twirl around to classical music and pretend you are the prima ballerina in Swan Lake or The Nutcracker. The bottom line is that you would do anything for these kids because they stole your heart the moment you met them.
I had heard that when you hold a niece or nephew for the first time, you realize more of your capacity to love. You barely know this little baby in your arms, and yet, you know that you would gladly give up anything at the drop of a hat for them. And because they are not your own child, you begin to see how much you would love and sacrifice for your own. You may be young and almost entirely inexperienced with babies (I know I am), but it is all a growing experience. By spending time with your niece or nephew, you begin to see how difficult (but so worthwhile) childcare can be. You realize how much you can love another person (even if they can’t reciprocate it yet), instead of by a significant other telling you often how much they care for you.
This list is by no mean exhaustive and are just some of the joys of being an aunt (or uncle).
Resources: Personal experience, family stories