Growing up, I always knew how important an auntie could be. We didn’t have many aunts, but we were pretty lucky with the ones we got. My mum’s sister Liz, known to us as Fog (Liz – Lizzie -Liggy – Figgy – Fog. Don’t ask. Anyway, she’s been called Fog by us for nearly 30 years) was a constant presence in our lives growing up, as were her own aunts, Peggy and Rosh.We adored all three of them – in fact, now that all my grandparents are long dead I can admit that we loved Peggy and Rosh, my grandpa’s sisters, much more than we loved any of our grandparents.
Neither ever married, and they lived together first in the family home in Phibsboro, and then in a cottage in Skerries. They took us for walks and made us amazing toys and fancy dress costumes and let us put on ridiculous shows and plays for them. Their house was full of wonderful things to dress up in and cupboards full of fantastic old photos and magazines. They were stereotypical maiden aunts – and we loved them, just as we love Fog, who we still see all the time.
Now I’m an aunt myself. In fact, as of Tuesday night, I have four nephews – two courtesy of my own sister, who has just produced baby number two, and two thanks my husband’s sister. I may not be biologically related to all of them, but I’m definitely their auntie – and over the last three and half years I’ve discovered just what a great relationship that can be.
All the cliches are true – you DO get to do the fun stuff and then go away at the end of the day (well, some of the time – I live around the corner from my sister so there’s a lot of babysitting which involves wrangling my toddler nephew into his pyjamas. He did a poo in the bath last night), and you do love them more than you think possible. At least I do. When I met my nephews for the first time, I was shocked by how immediate the connection was, especially with my own sister’s baby. They immediately felt like, well, like family. I’d do anything for them.
And I’m pretty sure they love me back – at least, if their demands for games and stories and help with jigsaws is any indication (though that could just mean that they’ve found a use for me. Hmmmm). Of course, continuing the family tradition of worshiping great-aunts, my nephew Arlo prefers Fog to pretty much all his other relations, and goes into fits of joy as soon as she enters the room. Luckily, she has more energy than all her nieces, so she’s generally down on the floor playing with Lego or chasing him round the garden within seconds. I really don’t know how she does it, I’ve been babysitting him every night this week while his mum’s in hospital and I’m knackered.
So are you an aunt yourself? What sort of a relationship do you have with your nephews and nieces? And do you have any brilliant aunts of your own?