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An Ode to the Cool Aunts Everywhere

Photograph by Twenty20

Growing up with a sister means speaking in whispers late at night when you're supposed to be in bed, fighting but also making each other laugh at the dinner table, saving each other from getting in trouble and being thick as thieves. When one becomes a mama, the other becomes an aunt.

And just like that, your sister becomes a lifeline in a way you've never experienced.

After I gave birth, my sister was the first one to ask me, "How are you?" She'd ask me the same thing months later. Both times I wouldn't know where to begin, but it was still nice to be asked.

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Sometimes, she's the only thing keeping me sane. She's been there when I've needed time to work, or just needed a break or a date night. In the early months of motherhood, she'd come over so I could use that time to take a shower or eat a sandwich. Never did I imagine that would mean so much. These days, she comes to our home full of energy, ready to pick up a toddler who always fall under her spell. Once in a while we have a sister date, and she'll whisk me away for an afternoon of window shopping and chatter.

My motherhood would be so different without sisterhood.

Cool aunts ride in on the breeze. It's always been too long since we last saw them.

Aunts are different from mothers, but they're also like stand-in mothers in all the important ways. They love your kids, play together, feed them and put them to bed. My sister teaches my daughter new things every time she visits. In a way, she's like a mom minus the exhaustion. After all, my sister gets to go home at the end of the day. Toddler behavior that might frazzle a mom amuses an aunty.

I think children sense the difference. When my sister visits, my daughter will run up to her, her whole face a smile, yelling "Aunty!" Theirs is an effervescent kind of love.

But aunties are the intermediary between both worlds. They keep us informed.

Cool aunts ride in on the breeze. It's always been too long since we last saw them. That's part of the cool aunt allure: who knows what adventures aunty's out having? "What do adults who don't have kids do anyway," they might wonder. We moms get to hear about it first, in sisterly confidence of course. Sometimes it makes me miss the days before kids. Sometimes this settled life seems like a refuge in contrast to what's out there.

But aunties are the intermediary between both worlds. They keep us informed. What's going on with the extended family? What events are coming up? What's funny these days? My sister always knows. Sisters make us laugh in a way only sisters can—belly laughs that make our jaws hurt. Suddenly we're kids again.

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Motherhood makes it a little harder for us to spend time together—just us two. But we manage in different ways. Instead of a late night pizza, we might have an afternoon coffee. Rather than stay out all night, we'll catch a morning yoga class together. Or we'll spend time as a family, with the kids and the noise and the frenzy of it all.

In the moments in between, we'll look at each other in mutual wonder at where life has taken us. From girls to women to mothers and aunts. But always, always sisters.

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