I'm Unsure That I Want to Have Kids of My Own, But Goddamn I Love Being an Aunt
Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about being a mom - or not being one rather. Instead I feel this continuous urge to parent my inner child, show her kindness and compassion, assure her that things will work out even if they don’t work out according to my plan, to nurture those around me, especially my girlfriends who grew up thinking they weren’t worthy of being loved unless they were perky, peppy, and polite, to empower women I don’t even know to live more authentic versions of themselves, oh and to be the best goddamn aunt I can be.
Perhaps my decision to not have kids will change. Perhaps it won’t. Either way, I know I won’t regret taking this time to get to know myself, get comfortable with myself, be proud of myself, and love myself unconditionally.
I’m an aunt of one, and in a few months that number will double. Though I’m not involved much in her daily upbringing due to an ocean in between us, I’ll never forget what it felt like when my niece made her first appearance in this world. My eyes filled up with tears — tears unlike any I’d ever experienced. These were not tears of grief, loneliness, or letting go. These were tears of life. I couldn’t wait to take her on adventures around the world, shuffling her from city to city, watching her eyes light up when she finally gets to see the things she’s only read about in text books. I couldn’t wait to talk to her about boys (or girls) and remind her that no one, absolutely no one, is worth sacrificing her dreams for. I couldn’t wait to take her out dancing, show her by example how the music lights up the same parts of our bodies. How our hips sway like clockwork. How our arms twist in rhythm. How our toes tap in tune. And how we never, ever, miss a beat.
I have a lot of aunts. I feel closer to some more than others, though now I’m starting to understand just how significant the role of an aunt really is. All of them have contributed a thread or two to my colourfully woven life. And for that I am forever grateful.
Aunt Jeanie with her strong arms, thin frame, and gapped front teeth. I admired her so — starting your own landscaping business in the sweltering Arizona heat isn’t for the faint of heart. Because she was in the sun all day, her skin was always a beautiful golden brown like a vintage hand bag from the second hand store or a coffee with too much milk. All of my other aunts had curves like my granny, thighs as wide as a tree trunk and butts as round as a glazed ham. Not Jeanie, she had a washboard belly and the frame of a prepubescent boy. But her gray unruly hair, sing songy voice, and funny stories were somehow more alluring than the combined curves of all the others.
Aunt Teresa with her passion for driving fast and taking shots. She was the cool aunt, one that you could confide in like a friend. It helped that my mom and her were very close and that we all grew up together, her kids felt more like siblings than cousins. We shared a middle name which I’m convinced added to the depth of admiration we both shared for one another and we both understood that if anything ever happened to my mom, she was second in command, Teresa Michelle reporting for duty. I’ve done a keg stand with this woman at her son’s wedding, danced on stage with her at Coyote Ugly in Vegas, and thrown back Sake Bombs with her on my graduation day. Her playful nature reminds me that life is a shindig meant to be enjoyed at all times.
Aunt Randi for her love of life and connecting people. Though she is an aunt by marriage, I feel more of a kinship with her than many of my blood relatives. My uncles on my dad's side, were college educated. My aunts were not. When Randi was first introduced to our family she was not only educated but she was well-traveled and already had a successful career. I’d always admired the fact that she waited until she’d established herself before marrying and having a child. I’m convinced that this waiting gave her time to discover who she really was. Some of my other aunts, on the other hand, seemed hollow at times, like they were still yearning for something outside of themselves, something that would come along and shake them awake. Randi was comfortable with who she was, and carried herself with both grace and ease. Around her, I felt the world multiply in magnitude.
The other day I was Skyping my nearly 2 year old niece. As per usual, I will go to great lengths to try and make her laugh and this day was no different. As I lowered my head out of the frame before popping up suddenly to scare her, “BOO”, I caught a glimpse of myself in the tiny square on the right hand side of the screen. Except it wasn’t me. It was Jeanie’s sun kissed complexion, wiry gray hairs poking out, and thin, yet sculpted arms. It was Teresa’s silly laugh and red nose. It was Randi’s confidence and ease.
By watching my aunts, or admiring my aunts rather, I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin and at home in my own body. My voluptuous hips, loud witchy cackle, fading pockmarks, wily gray hairs, and natural inclination to move my body whenever there's a song playing nearby, weren’t just unique to me. They were unique to us.
And they will be unique to you too, Ms. Boo.