This week, in the face of some auspicious news (the birth of my first niece, Gwen) and some ominous news (an aunt deciding to accept hospice care for what we think is end-stage breast cancer) I've been ruminating a lot on aunthood.
It has long been my theory that every family has a crazy aunt and a party uncle. Sometimes these characters are packaged together into one person, sometimes the genders are reversed. But they make an appearance in just about every family circus. We seem to have a preponderance in my family, and I'm proud to count myself in the crazy aunt contingent.
Melanie Notkin (aka "Savvy Auntie") wrote an article recently in celebration of PANKs: Professional Aunts, No Kids. Whether childfree by choice or by circumstance, non-breeder aunts play a special role in the lives of their nieces and nephews. Unfettered by rules and homework and other parental structures, we're freer to dish out important lifeskills like how to curse in five foreign languages and the best way to open a wine bottle. There tends to be more negative bias towards the "maiden aunt" as opposed to the swingin' bachelor uncle, but personally I think that just adds to our mystique.
I wouldn't be a proper auntie if I didn't proudly display pics of all my nieces and nephews. So, here, see for yourself how fabulous they all are. :)
James Welcome Rinard, 4 years
big brother in the hizzouse
Jack Elliott Zamborsky, 1 1/2 years
the Jack Attack
Charles Andrew Zamborsky, 3 months
aka Charlie, or C-note
Gwendolyn Ruth Rinard, 1 week
one niece to rule them all
So what advice do I have for these adorable niece- and nephlings?
- See the world, just as soon as you have the inkling to do so! Don't let fears -- your own or the fears of those around you -- hold you back. As Mark Twain famously said, "You will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor." Indeed, stretching past your comfort zone is the only way to grow.
Burning Man 2010, my contribution to the Temple of Flux
- Be radically self-expressed. Speak your mind, even (and especially) when it's unpopular. Be true to yourself, even if it takes an entire lifetime to figure out what that really means.
- Appreciate your parents. They work *really* hard for you, and they put up with a lot of your shit, literally and figuratively. Yes, they're hopelessly uncool, but that's sorta their job. You may think they'll be around forever, and I sincerely hope that's the case, but take it from me, you just never know.
- Love your Mother. And this time I mean Mother Earth. We in past generations have done a crappy job in the stewardship department, but don't let that stop you from getting your hands dirty, knowing where your food comes from, and perhaps even planting your own victory garden.
To my fellow tías locas -- particularly Tía Laura and Tía Vanessa of my own clan, but also the rest of you out there who are wrong in all the right ways -- I raise my glass. Despite the title of this post, I don't think Ricky Martin is going to write us a song anytime soon. Somehow Pink seems a more fitting tribute anyway.
Any party uncles wanna weigh in with their perspective?
* Savvy Auntie: PANKs
* The Truth About the Modern Aunt
* with apologies to Ricky Martin
* P!nk: Raise Your Glass
* Browse all Burning Man posts, view pics from 2010 and 2008
* Celebrate Joan
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