On April 11, 1997, I was a college freshman at Asbury College (now University, woo-whee!) sitting in Dr. Devin Brown’s Western Classics class when the door burst open. It was my roommate.
“He’s HERE!” he shouted, not at all worried about interrupting my class. “The baby’s here!”
While I was at class, she’d taken a phone call that had come into our room for me. She was coming to tell me that I was aunt, because she KNEW I’d been on pins and needles waiting for that long-anticipated baby. My oldest nephew Charles had just been born, hours away in Columbus, Ohio, to my brother (also) Charles and my sister-in-law Elizabeth.
I cried tears of joy. I had been SO excited about becoming an aunt, and I knew my life would never be the same. And it wasn’t. It was immeasurably better from that moment on.
Over the next three years my two older brothers made me an aunt several more times over, so I had a niece and three nephews by the time I married my husband. He and I were both the youngest in our families, and when we married in March 2000 he already had eight nieces and nephews of his own. We had three flower girls and a ring bearer, all of whom we were aunt and uncle to. I had NO shortage of little people to love on, and I relished my time with them.
I enjoyed being the “fun aunt;” before I had kids of my own, I had my nieces and nephews sleep over, I babysat them, and I took them on fun outings. I even saw three of my brother’s sons be born, which was a special privilege I will never forget (especially the first time I saw a placenta, HELL-O!! I literally did NOT see that coming. Yikes.)
I LOVED being an aunt.
And then, I had my own kids.
And I LOVED being a mom.
But still! It didn’t take away from my love of being an aunt. Motherhood, pouring into my own children, meant I was less of a fun aunt for awhile for sure. After my second child was born and was veeery difficult, I missed a few years of little league baseball and basketball games, though I saw quite a few before that. I had to sit out some of those experiences for awhile, but still loved being with my nieces and nephews on larger family gatherings.
Then, my own kids got a little older, and a little easier, and I got to be a more supportive aunt again. I went to school plays and musicals, baseball games, track meets, soccer games, and basketball games. I even started crashing my nephew Drew’s Rubik’s Cube competitions. (And possibly trolling him a little bit.) I dubbed myself the #fanaunt because I was their biggest fan—besides their own parents, of course.
I can’t say why exactly I’ve taken to aunt-ing so wholeheartedly. Maybe it’s just an extension of the love I have for my older brothers channeled into their kids (I mean, I certainly can’t show up to my brothers’ places of business every day and cheer them on, LOL.) Maybe it’s just because I truly love spending time with my extended family. We’re a fun bunch!
Whatever the reason, I can’t say that I’m one bit sorry that I’ve spent a little extra of my “free” time pursuing involvement in my niece and nephews’ lives (on my side of the family I now have one niece and 6 nephews + a foster nephew who I adore, on my husband’s side there are seriously almost too many to count). I really, really, love being an aunt, and it has been one of the great privileges of my life.
When I bid goodbye to one nephew last week before he leaves to spend a gap year before college in ministry in Costa Rica, I cried. When I said goodbye two others yesterday as they leave for college (one a senior and one a freshman), I cried again. I love these young people and I’m so proud of them. I hope that if my kids have learned anything from my pursuit of aunthood, it’s the beauty and value of family. I’ve dragged them along to their cousins’ games and recitals, and one day i hope they will do the same for their nieces and nephews, for each other’s kids. After all, family is forever, whether you like it or not. And when you like it…it makes life a WHOLE lot more fun.
Thanks nieces and nephews, for letting me be your #fanaunt. It continues to be one of the very best parts of my life!
(P.S. There are many, many, many nieces and nephews not pictured. Love you all. I’m sorry and you’re welcome for not including pics of everyone!)