My dear friend, I'll call her Ginny, and I have known each other for years, but didn't become close until we had babies within a month of each other and wound up buying houses within a one-mile radius. Ginny is smart, funny, and we have very similar mom philosophies. She makes being a mom easier, in large part because she is my kids' unofficial aunt. There are things every mom wants her kid's unofficial aunts to know but, let's face it, they're so awesome they probably already know.
The unofficial aunt isn't technically an aunt (read:, not yours or your partner's sister). Instead, she's a chosen sister. I make the distinction between an unofficial aunt and real aunts by dubbing the "unofficial" ones "aunties." My childhood is marked, very positively, by the fact that I had a large amount of aunties. Both my mother's and grandmother's friends were always there to give me advice (whether I wanted it or not), support my interests (I had the loudest cheering section for every play I was every in), and just talk with me in a way that enabled me to grow into a thoughtful adult. Thanks to Ginny, and a few other special aunties, I'm hopeful my kids will grow up with that same sense of comforting support.
And so, amazing "aunties" to my children, here's just a few of the things I want you to know.
Not All My Friends Get This Title
So there are mom friends (other moms I like but who I probably wouldn't be friends with if we both didn't have kids), friends (whom I love but who don't necessarily have anything to do with my identity as a mother), and then there are people who are both friends and close enough to my family to be my child's auntie. This is a special breed of person, because even people I really dearly love don't get this status just because I like them. You're special. Go you.
I Trust You
I wouldn't let you be my child's auntie if I didn't trust you. So please know that I trust your judgment, especially when it comes to my child. I believe you're motivated by what's best for them. I trust your abilities and trust that you are capable of being responsible for my beloved little monsters. Again: this is not something that happens just because I like someone.
You're Allowed To Scold My Kid
I'm not all "my child is a precious and delicate flower and no one is around to demonstrate any negativity around them no matter how bad they're behaving because it will destroy their artist spirit" kind of person. But my feathers will get ruffled if some random person starts disciplining my kid. There are even some people whom I know and love who I would encourage not to take on this task.
But you? Well, you're cool. If you're my child's auntie then we're on the same page about what kind of message they need to be hearing and I trust you to deliver that tough love appropriately. I don't need you to raise my kid, but if you see them doing something naughty you've earned the right to feel OK getting a bit stern with them.
I'm Grateful For You
You're legit the best. Seriously. You're good to my kids, you're good to me, and I don't know that I would be able to get through motherhood on some days without you. Whether you're there to watch the kids or grab a drink with me at the end of a tough day, or just text back and forth over the course of an hour to help me process something, you're a magical unicorn of a human and I never want you to doubt that I know and appreciate that.
We're Allowed To Talk Candidly About My Kid
Because I know you love them so much, it's OK for you to call it like you see it. Because in a world where we feel so much pressure to keep up appearances, it's cathartic to be open about the fact that, no, sometimes my kid is the worst. That doesn't mean you always think they're awful, or that you'd ever say that to their face, but it's validating to the parenting struggle to be able to say to (and hear from) someone else: "Yeah, they're kind of in a mood today, huh?"
There's A Line
In disciplining the kid, in talking smack about the kid, or even, perhaps, in being affectionate with the kid, please remember that you're the beloved auntie, not the parent. And I feel like the best aunties are very aware and respectful of this line, but every now and then it's important to remember it just to keep yourself in check.
We Won't Always Completely Agree On Parenting
And that's OK. It would be a little weird if we agreed on absolutely everything because we're not robots who can be programmed. The important thing is that, in spite of philosophical differences, we can respect one another.
If You Have A Child I Love Them
There are absolutely child-free aunties out there, but if you're an auntie with a child of her own then I find the auntie status almost always goes both ways: you're my child's auntie and I'm theirs. So please know that I adore your child and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be to them what you are to my child.
You Have A Special Place In My Child's Life
I truly believe that every child should have a number of adults whom they know, trust, and can turn to throughout their lives. Hopefully my kids will always feel as though they can come to me with their problems, but there might be reasons they feel they can't (or would rather not) talk to me. I'm glad that they will have aunties that they knew love them and have their best interests at heart to whom they can discuss problems or even just share their interests and milestones.
I Love You For You
Even if you weren't such a great auntie, you're an awesome friend. Here's to you, lady.