I consider myself “That Aunt”. I say it all cheery and happy…full of buying my nieces and nephews what they want, allowing them to eat what they want, and most likely saying things that I want. But, I am pretty sure when my siblings and their spouses say “That Aunt”, they use a different tone…
Finding the balance is really hard. There are three of us sisters. When I was raising my twins, my middle sister was raising hers (she had her first when my kids were five years old). We both had busy lives and were moving around the U.S. and Canada. So, I did not get to learn to be an aunt very well. We lived far apart and we had busy lives.
Then, I became an empty nester and at that very time, my youngest sister, 7 years younger, had her first. So, imagine this…Empty nester mom, sister with a new baby, strong personality… That pretty much spells trouble.
My poor sister and sister-in-law. Of course, I knew best and I always needed to tell them just that. Granted, that was 18 years prior and times had changed. I mean now they have car seats you use as carriers.
My poor sister and sister-in-law. I was so “Ugh, That Aunt”. While I may have learned a lot, I hadn’t changed a lot. You see, that strong personality shows even when I try to hide it. But, I have been given a chance to make amends and be a better aunt…My sister just had her second.
I was up visiting recently and I wrote a list of dos and don’ts for myself that I will share with you. These will help you from being the “Ugh, That Aunt” to being “That Aunt”.
Now, I have to admit that my nephew, who is four, has me tied around his little finger. I still try hard to do what his moms would want, but when he looks at me, I sometimes give in. Plus, he is super smart. On top of his smartness, I melt when he asks me anything. I mean this kid FaceTimes me out of the blue without his moms knowing. So, of course I will give him that cookie if he wants it. We have a thing going you know…
My last visit was so much better or at least I thought so. But it was really, really hard for me. I wanted so much to go back to my old way of saying what I thought. To my credit, instead I waited until asked. I tried to allow my sister and sister-in-law to guide me, which I also know must have been hard for them. But, driving home at the end of the day, I felt good and I really hope they did, too.
The best moment of the day came when my nephew said to me and please remember, he is only going to be 4. “I don’t need to hold your hand. I know that is what you did with Sydney and Sam”. And then he walked down the little hill and held my hand until the car passed.
At almost the age of 4, he has figured out that his auntie still gets a little nervous. He also told me when I asked what he wanted for his birthday that Hanukkah and Christmas come first. He is right.
What I learned about The Do’s and Don’ts for Being “That Aunt”…
Do feel the vibes and follow them.
Do not try to change the flow and the rhythms.
Do feed them the snacks you are given by their parents.
True story Halloween 2018…Do not throw yourself between your nephew and the fireman handing them a doughnut after you just finished negotioating saving the doughnut for breakfast. Your sister and sister-in-law will live through the sugar high – just head home before it kicks in.
Do love them unconditionally.
Do not set conditions. Just tell them how you feel.
Do bring them and send them gifts, but not too often.
Do try to hold your tongue. But not so much that it hurts your feelings.
Do help around the house, but no comments. Just do it.
Do not let it bug you when you offer to help and are told no. People like things done their way.
Do follow the instructions you are given for things like waking up the kids from nap or putting them to bed,
Do not tell anyone if you do not follow the instructions to a tee.
Do try to follow their parenting lead.
Do not say, “But when my kids were that age”. Just so you know, I break this rule ALL the time no matter how hard I try.
Do be ‘That Aunt” and do not beat yourself up if you are not.
Do know you will be “Ugh, That Aunt” and do not beat yourself up if you are.
In the end, everyone will survive and be better off as a family. Just love unconditionally.
I am a home cook that does things my way. In my kitchen, I make breakfast, pack lunches, prepare snacks, and cook dinner. During the week, we eat real food that is homemade, organic, and local. On the weekends we do explore more of our local restaurants. I bake my own bread, juice fresh oranges every other day, and make my own kombucha and other weekly favorites.