Today is a short post about one of my favourite roles – Auntie! While being a parent was never on my agenda, I always loved the idea of being a Godparent or auntie. When I was growing up, I had a lot of friends who had beloved Godparents (I don’t recall having any myself but I did have some fantastic aunties who are still some of my favourite people up to this day!) and I always fancied being “Auntie”.
I am now fortunate that 3 of my close friends have entrusted me with the privilege of being a Godparent, and I have a great little nephew as well, making me a proper auntie!! It is one of my favourite things in life, but I also take it seriously. My aunts played a big role in my life (and continue to do so), and I wanted to add similar value for these little ones (some not so little now!) plus – they are all awesome!! Funny, clever, kind and sweet – so I adore them to bits. In addition, I have many other friends with children, so I get to do double duty as “auntie” to them also.
In truth I have always had a special place in my heart for children and young people. I spent many years teaching Sunday school, and now work with two organizations who are predominantly youth focused, with one of them working with children with special needs. And the most important things I learned about being an auntie I learned from the young people that I worked with as well as from my Godchildren themselves and now my nephew. And for me the most important thing I think I can do as “Auntie” is provide support both for the children as well as the parents. I can truly see what the expression “it takes a village to raise a child” means. In addition, I have been inspired to listen to presentations from two young persons with disabilities, as well as countless others who speak unequivocally about the support they received growing up from parents, step parents, Godparents, aunties (and uncles) mentors etc. I feel strongly that the most critical thing I can provide for any young person whom I spend any time with is support - moral and emotional – and encouragement. Personally I think that it is more important to provide these than material things. It seems to me as if the persons who go on to do great things in life have cheerleaders, champions, advocates to teach and nurture them (and of course jack them up when it is needed). This applies to those who have come from a variety of backgrounds.
Support can be in the form of a listening ear, encouragement, a ride home, a trip to the beach, and general horsing around, help with homework and the occasional peep at teeth (had to throw that in there), a stern word when needed, a good example set, and any other auntie duties that apply equally to parents and children. If I am feeling particularly mischievous, I may make a gift of some particularly loud and annoying birthday gift – whistle, clacker, keyboard, drums, radio etc – I need to get my giggles in somehow!
I have always said that if I could figure out how to do one thing in this world, it would be to harness the power of community to work towards improvements in society. Sometimes I feel like we as individuals and families have become very insular, and it may be intentional or simply a reflection of the speed of life that we live. I encounter a number of persons who lament that they do not have a tight support system, and it is a difficult place to be. But I feel that they key to change, to improvements and to success lies in community and having a good support network, and I think it is the best gift I can offer my sister and friends for their children (after a drum set of course). So today’s lesson – how to be an auntie – is one that I am continuing to learn today. I am sure that my nephew still has much to teach me, and hopefully there will be more little nieces, nephews and pseudo Godchildren in my future (I am currently at my limit for real Godchildren!!)
Big love from a small island
Ps - another one of auntie's duties is to make birthday cakes (and burnt cookies if my Goddaughter has her way). Here's one I made earlier - my first and last attempt at a checkerboard cake.