Yesterday I read a post by Rage Against the Mini Van blogger Kristen Howerton in which she bemused the fact that she is a better aunt than mother. Her post REALLY hit home for me. I have long known (and felt guilty about) the reality that the children in my life who call me Aunt Ju Ju get a far better version of myself than the children who call me Mom. Aunt Ju Ju is fun, interested, energetic, always supportive, and somewhat spontaneous. Mom on the other hand is often busy, tired, a stickler for “the way things should be done,” and practical about activities and timing.
Like Kristen I know that there are some natural reasons for this but even so her post really called me to consciousness. So I decided to do for my kids yesterday what I would have done for my nieces or nephews had they been with me. Just for a little while I put work aside. I had an extra long snuggle fest with one child, helped another child with a project he’s been working on, and when they talked I really focused on exactly what they were saying. I removed the distracted sounding mmmmhhhmm’s and uh huh’s from my response repertoire. I learned I really CAN live through a long winded story about Pokemon and can even find intelligent questions to ask about it. After all, I would have done that for my nephew!!
Then I paused aunt mode to go to a work meeting and returned to find my son staring at the television. I snapped it off and asked him what he REALLY wanted to be doing with his time. (Aunt Ju Ju would NEVER use the TV to entertain a niece or nephew.) Without missing a beat he replied, “Let’s go to the shopping center and walk around.” I was suspicious of this request as he hates shopping, but I conjured my spontaneity (usually reserved for nieces and nephews) and hopped in the car with him. When we arrived I asked him where he wanted to go and was confused with his “I don’t know” response. But when he added “we can go to places you like AND places I like” and then threw in a mischievous smile I was on to him. We were parked directly across from the specialty cupcake store and my son has a notorious sweet tooth. Shopping had never been his intention at all. He knew Mom probably wouldn’t have said yes to driving across town for an overpriced cupcake piled with delicious frosting but he had been pretty sure (and correct) that I would go for shopping. We had a good laugh together when I called him on his plotting and then since Aunt Ju Ju definitely would have bought a niece or a nephew a ridiculously priced cupcake in we went.
I know Aunt Ju Ju can not come out to play everyday for my children and I don’t think they would really want her to anyway, but for yesterday it was a pretty good thing for everyone, even me.