I am close with my two younger sisters and always thought I would be a really good aunt to their kids. You know, the kind who likes to stuff her nieces and nephews with cookies, babysits all the time, and is the one they can come to when they’re in a sticky situation and don’t want to go to their parents.
But that’s not what has happened. Like, at all — even though I have two sisters and five nieces and nephews, all of whom live fairly close to me.
I was the first of the three of us to become a mother, and while I had daydreams about being the Super Mom and Super Aunt (because how hard could it be?), I really didn’t know how all-encompassing being a mother would be and how much it would steal from my Super Aunt ambitions.
I don’t have the energy to keep up with my own family most days, and it doesn’t leave much extra for my nieces and nephews and it makes me feel sad and disappointed in myself.
When we all are able to carve time out in our schedules to get together for a birthday party or holiday, I think, I need to see them more. I need to spend more time with them. Then life picks us up and carries us away, and nailing down a time to see them or attend one of their games doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to.
I thought I’d be “The Cool Aunt” or at least ‘The Funny Aunt,” but I can’t be that because I forget the fact my own kids were supposed to be at school an hour early for Science Club, and I was supposed to get the car serviced while they were gone.
And my sisters and I like to use our family gatherings as a bit of a break for us and encourage our kids to play together because we haven’t seen each other in a month and need to catch up.
I want my nieces and nephews to know how much I love them and care about them, I am just tired and burnt out — just like their moms are tired and feel spread really thin these days too.
We do our best and try to show them through Target gift cards and going to the occasional soccer game and attending their birthday parties, but there are times when I’m not sure it’s enough.
I think I had this picture of what a perfect aunt would be because I had a few of them myself — they would take me and my sister out to the movies and shopping and out to eat and spoil us with big birthday packages.
There was a difference between them and me though — they didn’t have kids when my sisters and I were getting this royal treatment. And when they did have kids, that all faded into the sunset and I did miss it. I really did.
But the most important thing was that I knew they still loved me. And if I didn’t have kids of my own and was able to spend more time and money on my nieces and nephews, I’d probably be feeling guilty I hadn’t given them any cousins to play with.
I have no idea how they view me or how they will remember me. So, I’ll just keep doing my best, attending their parties bearing gifts and making it to their sporting events whenever I can, and keeping the door open so they can always come to me with anything.