My husband's sister had her first baby last week, making my husband a first time uncle and, of course, me a first time aunt. An aunt! I've always wanted to be an aunt! As I held him in my arms and looked at his head full of hair, I imagined the days yet to come. Our sons are now cousins for the first time as well, and I could almost hear the future laughter of three little boy cousins, chasing frogs and shooting each other with sticks. I don't know who this little boy will be when he grows up, but I knew that I loved him as purely and as wholly as I love my little boys.
But I was left wondering what kind of aunt I will be.
I have fond memories of my aunts -- all of whom are very different people with very different takes on aunthood. My mom's sister dressed up as a clown for one of my birthdays, let me do Jane Fonda aerobics with her in grandma's basement and welcomed me for summer visits when she moved away and started her own family. One of my dad's sisters-in-law welcomed me into her home for Easter dinner when I was busy making less than stellar life-choices and the rest of the family was tired of me. Yet another helped me find footing in the news world if only by her encouragement.
And then there were the aunts by association; friends my parents had made that became so close that they earned the title of Aunt So-and-so. Sometimes they spoiled us with gifts. Sometimes they were a listening ear. Sometimes they took us places. Sometimes they came to us.
Each of my aunts brought their own bits of awesome to my life. So who will I be?
Will I be the aunt who spoils? Who buys the obnoxious toys -- as my brother and his wife have done for my children? Will I be the responsible aunt? Who starts college funds and puts money in it every birthday -- as my sister-in-law and her husband have done for my children? Will I be the fun aunt? The one the kids all want to sit next to at family dinners. The stylish aunt? The one with the hair dyed random colors at random times? The embarrassing aunt? The aunt who always has the camera in your face? The aunt with the loud voice? The aunt who seemingly always wears green? The aunt who laughs so hard she snorts? The aunt who always gives books for Christmas?
I will be all of those aunts -- and more. Because I am me, but an aunt. I am wild and zany and serious and a lover of books and quite loud and embarrassing and loving and fun and usually found wearing green. I think if I could hope to be any kind of aunt, it would be a participatory aunt. One who shows up for baptisms and preschool programs. One who helps lay out the food at a birthday party. One who takes eighty bagillion pictures any time she is near. One who shows up -- just because. One who sends a card -- just because. One who loves with her whole auntie heart -- just because.
I want to be around to watch him grow. I want to make memories that include him so that someday he might remember me. I want him to know he is loved.
That last point, no matter what kind of aunt I turn out to be, is the main sticking point for me. And, I think, my husband too; he's going to be a fantastic, if not slightly foul-mouthed, uncle.
What kind of aunt are you? What kind of aunts did you have growing up? What kind of aunts do your kids have?
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