I love being an auntie. Hubs and I have eight nieces and nephews whose ages range from 1 to 22 years old, and every one of them has brought so many smiles and wonderful moments to our lives. I've often wished we could provide some cousins for our little tykes to play with, but since that dream has gone by the wayside I've become more appreciative of what we have.
I myself have more aunts and uncles than you can shake a stick at, and growing up the ones who made the biggest impression on me were those who were childless during my formative years. When the whole family got together, they were the ones who had the time and energy to hang out with my siblings, cousins and I, while the moms and dads enjoyed grown-up conversations away from the kids. The childless aunts and uncles woud talk to us and tell us jokes and funny stories. They taught us how to play pool and they played games with us. They were the easygoing, fun, exciting family members that us kids looked forward to spending time with almost as much as we looked forward to spending time with our cousins. The childless aunts and uncles were the Big Kids.
Now it's my turn to be a Big Kid with my nieces and nephews. When our siblings are tired from working and parenting all day (all week... all year...), Hubs and I have the energy to run around after their kids. We're happy to listen to them chatter incessantly about their latest obsessions from Dora to video games to *gasp* love interests. We're happy to push them on the swing, sit on the floor and color with them, and let them show us their rooms for the fifteen hundredth time. And I in particular am always happy to hold the baby until she falls asleep when my siblings are busy getting ready for birthday parties for the older tykes!
I feel that Hubs and I are so willing and able to do all this stuff because we don't have kids of our own. We're not required to do it every single day the way a parent is, and we get plenty of breaks in between the times we see our nieces and nephews, so there's no burnout. When we hang out with our nieces and nephews we're on top of our game and can be the most fun Auntie and Uncle possible!
The best part is, I know my siblings and sibs-in-law appreciate our "help." It's funny because Hubs and I want to and enjoy playing an active part in the kids' lives, so when our siblings thank us for spending time with their kids I think, there's no reason for that. I think we get as much out of it as the kids do, and we benefit as much from it as our siblings do. Nevertheless, it's nice to know that we're taking some of the pressure off of them, and that we're making a meaningful contribution to the well-being of our family.