When I was growing up I called several people who were good friends with my mum by that title but I found it really confusing, especially when I started junior school and we had to do a family tree and I couldn’t work out where the extra aunts came from.
I also felt sure that if they were my aunts then their children must be my cousins and I referred to them as such for a long time before someone in the playground said: “How can they be your cousins, you’re not related? You’re a fibber!”
When, as an adult, I became an actual aunt, it felt like a special bond had been formed and it was a link that only my nephew and I would share. Then I realised other people not directly related to him were referred to as auntie and, while I know the honorary title is a sign of respect and love, I felt really sad. It felt like our relationship wasn’t special anymore (not that I ever said anything, obviously).
I know it might sound daft and that being an aunt isn’t just a name but about being there for him – and as he lived thousands of miles away and I only really got to see him once or twice a year when he was little that wasn’t really possible. But maybe it’s because he lived so far away that I wanted to retain something that was just ours.
The funny thing is we do have a special relationship – I like to think it’s because I furnished him with as many noisy toys as possible when he was a toddler (I am awaiting suitable payback) and more recently through our shared geekery over online games – and it has nothing to do with what he calls me, which is actually just Tara.
And that got me thinking. Am I making a fuss about nothing?
Since having Freya and seeing the way my close friends care for her I want her to know that she has special people in her life who will look out for her. If adding aunt easily conveys that then maybe I should use it? However, I also want her to have a relationship with her only actual aunt (even though she’s far away) and don’t want to confuse Freya or muddy the waters.
Argh, I feel like I might be overthinking this.
Have you got honorary aunts or uncles or are you one yourself? What would you do?