I’ve been an aunt since I was six years old. Nearly 16 years on and I have eight nieces and nephews. Being an aunt at six is entirely different from being an aunt at 21. For one thing, I’m now considered an adult and therefore responsible, although sometimes I think I’m just as childish as they are!
I once heard someone describe being an aunt as a “thankless job” and I can honestly say that is a massive pile of bulls*** and it’s sad that someone could feel that way.
I recently had two of my nieces over for a craft day. The first thing we did was paint our faces. I painted theirs and then let them paint mine. It was messy and I looked liked I’d tried to put my makeup on in the dark with a shovel, but we were having fun. Then we did some painting which became finger painting which became hand painting which became “How did you get paint THERE?!” There was paint absolutely everywhere and we had to spend ages trying to get it off before we could go inside again. When it was time for lunch they decided they didn’t like the “orange spaghetti and ants”, aka carrot and sultanas, that I’d made, so I had to quickly throw something together as we were out of bread while two hungry girls kept trying to “help”. At the end of the day we were covered in paint, glue, googly eyes and bits of pipe cleaners. We were tired, hot and sticky. And we were incredibly happy.
Each time I see my nieces and nephews I remember how lucky I am to have them. They might not say “thank you” or “I love you” but they don’t have to. When they come into the house and immediately start telling me about something that happened a school, knowing I’ll listen with interest, I know. When they bring me a book and are half way onto my lap before I realise what’s happening, I know. When they bring me a piece of paper that has a scribble on it, I know. When my 9 month old niece leaned towards me from her mum’s arms for a cuddle for the first time, I knew. I have a whole wall full of little notes and drawings that remind me.
Being an aunt is an easy job. We get to play with the kids, laugh with them, cuddle them and give them back when they start getting cranky. We get given squished flowers that have been carried all the way from the park just because “You like yellow”. We get to watch these amazing, brilliant, beautiful little creatures grow into hilarious, clever, fantastic young men and women and we get to love them with all our hearts the whole way. If that’s not enough of a “thank you” then I don’t know what is.