Aunt or Auntie, Tati or Tatis(*means aunt in Haitian Creole-French) are future names I will be called by my nephew once he learns to speak. It seems quite nostalgic that just eight months ago he was only a newborn baby, welcomed into the family. As a first time aunt I was elated and blessed. Elated by the fact that he was born healthy, and blessed because he was one of the sweetest Christmas gifts any family could receive.
My nephew was born during the same celebrated period as our Lord Jesus. He was born close to midnight one December evening. Neither me, my parents, my brother-in-law or even my nephew’s mother were aware that he would arrive prior to his due date. But, how many babies wait for a date? Not too many I am sure. So, like so many before him my nephew arrived in a big wail and scream, and quickly calmed down as he was introduced to his expecting parents.
I am not afraid to admit that when my family was admitted into the labor ward I was nervous in meeting my nephew. I was nervous because my role as an aunt felt more real now that he entered the world. I felt responsible for how he would be cared for, I felt responsible in how I’d help protect him, I felt responsible in how I’d spoil him, I felt responsible for how I’d talk about his parents to him. So many responsibilities. However, with each responsibility I felt the one responsibility that has stuck with me the most is my responsibility to play a strong role in my nephew’s life.
As a new aunt I want simply the best for my nephew just like his parents do. However, I have felt some stress placed on my aunt-hood duties. While babysitting, feeding, burping, diaper changing, carrying, and playing with my nephew are general duties I that am quite comfortable with, being available 24/7 indefinitely is not. Since I moved back home (*almost permanently) I’ve become an on-call aunt in my nephew’s life. While the position does not bother me so much the expectation placed on my presence has been heavy. Both my sister and brother-in-law expect me to play a fulfilling role in their son’s life. Likewise I hope to do too. However, since returning home I’ve felt more pressured to remain close to home and not pursue the best opportunities for me work-wise and for my own personal relationship.In my recent trip abroad I stepped away from my aunt role and returned to my former life as a young adult, with single and childless friends who like me are enjoying our youth until we reach settling age.
My former life style has been almost nonexistent since I returned home and focused on my growing family at home. While I am certainly happy to be present in my nephew’s life and experience new moments with my family I wonder if/when I step away will I receive more negative remarks from family about my past life mixing with my present. Sadly, some family do not believe that I should return to Korea or even go abroad on long holidays as I would like to do. They have forgotten that I have a second life away from them. This is something that I am working on blending, my life abroad and my life back home.
As the only person in my immediate family to have lived alone abroad, and much less Asia, I want to continually share my knowledge, experiences, and insights with my family. I also want to teach them more about other cultures and other peoples. Eventually, I would like to travel with my nephew abroad, maybe to Korea, if I do end up living there again or remain a bi-annual sojourner. It would be nice to share with my nephew my former life, and remain ever-present in his.
Being an aunt is neither easy nor difficult. But, being a supporting family member and in a secondary parent position can sometimes be hard. In this position you realize that you must be mature and focused on doing everything in the best interest for your nephew or niece. Being an aunt or an uncle gives you a taste of parenting, which can help you when your day comes and you enter into the same role. For me, parenting is something I look forward to down the road as mentioned in my blog The Idea of Adopting (입양 어린이에 대한 생각).
So far being an aunt has been a blessing for me. It’s made me mature in more ways that I can fully explain. In addition, it’s made me further think about what lies in my own future. But, most of all it’s given me an additional purpose in life. One in which I am proud of and title that comes with it.