There have been a few times this past month that I’ve been asked when I am having kids. Each time, I have given my now standard response – that I am an aunt and I have lots of kids in my life.
In the past couple of months, I have finally felt completely and utterly comfortable saying it.
Partly this comes after a recent conversation I had with a wonderful business mentor. We were simply going through the general life stuff when I noted I didn’t have kids and wasn’t planning on any. Rather, I’m an aunt and I love how the kids in my life force me to shut away from my business when I see them. I simply cannot check my phone when I’m with them – for one, they wouldn’t let me, and two, I wouldn’t want to, I’m simply focused on them and play. My beautiful mentor noted a wonderful Super Soul Conversations podcast episode with Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert in which both women talk about how some women are born to be aunts, not mothers. I connected so wholeheartedly with both women as they spoke about this.
My wonderful partner and I have been together for 12 years, so we’ve had a good 11 years of questions about offspring. At a point in my late 20s, the sometimes-relentless questioning from friends and strangers made me question my decision. Inside, this conversation ate me up. But on the surface, I was saying anything that would make people believe that I liked kids. I even left a job because I had many people telling me I couldn’t do that particular job and have kids, and I even used that excuse for my resignation. I was caught up in what I thought I should be doing, not what I truly wanted to do. And I was caught up in this perception that if you don’t want kids, you don’t like kids.
In my early 30s, I owned my decision to not have kids and rebutted perceptions that this meant I didn’t like kids. My friends and family will tell you that at most gatherings, I am the one playing with the kids. I sit down and chat with them about their day. I teach my nieces yoga. I go to imaginary lands with my nephew and I swoon over my baby niece and every other baby that comes my way. I love kids! And I want to spend time with them as an aunt. As a confidant. As a teacher. As a friend. I believe this is one of my purposes in life.
As someone who learnt a lot from a rocky childhood and does not have a relationship with their mother, I know the sheer importance of aunts and uncles, and other people that we bring into our lives through childhood (and adulthood) to help us learn to be better humans. I am so honoured to have this privileged role and to have the many kids in my life that bring me such joy. I am grateful for every moment and everything I learn about them and about myself through my time with them.