My niece is here for a visit this week and we have been reminiscing about all the fun things we have done over the years. We took spontaneous dips in the ocean, shaved my Yorkie because I gave her a bad haircut and had many other fun adventures. It got me thinking about being a mom and how different it is from being an aunt.
I became an aunt when I was 12 and by the time I was 16 I had approximately 13 nieces and nephews. I also had a little brother and sister, eight and twelve years younger than me. I had a lot of experience with kids, so I thought motherhood would be a walk in the park. No one can convey to you how drastically different it is.
When my nieces and I went for an impromptu dip in the ocean one night after eating dinner out, I did not worry about them getting water all over my car, not having towels to dry off or that they would get sick. I was not solely responsible for their well-being nor did I have to discipline them. We could just have fun!
Six years ago when Isabella was born I was ready, or so I thought, because of all my “experience”. It was going to be great, but it was far from great and I wonder how much of the un-greatness was due to my expectations of an aunt type relationship that is not possible with your own children. They are solely your responsibility, you are on call 24/7 and all of that is added to the responsibilities you had before they entered the world. You cannot spend a few days getting things ready for their visit and take a week to recover when they leave. You think about their character, you think about your character and a host of other things that are really important as a parent that just do not cross your mind with nieces and nephews.
It has been a relief of sorts to realize my distorted view of motherhood in relationship to aunthood. Now I can rest in that revelation. My little ones, they call me mommy, not Aunt Mari and that was by God’s design. I wish it had not taken me six years to figure that out, but something tells me this revelation is going to be very helpful in my mothering.