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Now I’m the Wacky Auntie. I’m very careful about my brother’s family values: I don’t smoke or swear around the kids, and when they talk about Jesus I just smile and nod. On the other hand, by the end of my Christmas visit a couple years ago, the kids were running around yelling, "I want a blue Mohawk! I want a blue Mohawk like Aunt T’s!" As my niece Sasha grows older, she may follow in her aunt’s footsteps and evolve from being bright and precocious to being rebellious and angst-ridden. If she does, I hope she knows there’s someone cool around that she can run to: her wacky aunt.
What if you’re an only child, or live far away from your estranged siblings, and would like to be an aunt? Fear not: All you need is a friend who intends to procreate. Family friends are routinely re-ferred to as "aunt" and "uncle" in a society whose extended families tend to fragment or disappear altogether. It’s pretty weird when close friends start getting hitched, settling down, and having kids, but playing auntie is one way to enjoy the experience. It shows that you love your friend enough to be a part of his or her new lifestyle, and you get all the benefits of being around children, but on your own terms.
You can always find new friends to go on drinking binges with or to take backpacking in South America. If you don’t want to stop doing those things just yet, hold off on motherhood and try the auntie thing. Packed with flavor but only half the calories, being an aunt is Motherhood Lite: tastes great, less filling!
From Bust (Fall/Winter 1996). Subscriptions: $11.95 for 4 issues (2 issues/yr.) from Box 1016, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276.
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