Someone asked for my thoughts on becoming an aunt. They are: EEEEEEEEEEEEE! (seagrit, have the deadbeats delivered the rest of The Kiddo's Christmas present yet?) At somewhat more length: I'm an only child, and my mom is an only child. My dad has three siblings, one of whom has children. Aunt Ruthie adopted Pat when he was already half-grown -- 10 or 11 -- and had Joe when I was 14, and we just didn't see them much. When I talk about my cousins, I'm talking about either further-removed cousins or else people who are no blood relation to me at all. In the part of the family we saw most often, I was the baby by 14 years (my godfather Dave being the next oldest). I still am.
What all that means is that I never assumed I would get to have a niece or nephew. I never assumed I would get to be Crazy Aunt mrissa. (I think being Sane Aunt mrissa is entirely out of the picture.) I don't think it's better or worse to be an auntie without blood ties, like my Aunt Kathy was for me, but it's different. I love being Roo's Auntie Missa, and nothing could make that less special, but it doesn't mean that I have a genuine relationship with his grands on either side. If I get to know porphyrin's or Mike's parents better, it will be because I'm around being Roo's Auntie Missa. The kid relationship will come first. Whereas with seagrit and Jeff's impending spawn, The Kiddo will come into a world where Auntie Ris already does fountain pen geekery with Grandpa Dave and exchanges volumes of Dumas with Uncle Matt and so on. My relationship with the rest of the Gritters won't depend on my relationship with the kid. I'm part of a close set of family this kid is coming into. This has never happened to me before.
I was not close with my dad's sisters when I was little. We didn't see much of them. Both of them were in suboptimal situations for awhile, and their father started behaving like a jackass when I was very young, so we never had Close-Knit Lingen Family Gatherings. (Well, we did, but they were with Aunt Ellen and Uncle Phil's.) I got to be closer with my aunt Mary, who is my godmother, once I was half-grown and she could just deal with me like an adult (Mary is not a "kid person"), and also her own life was better then. I don't feel like I was lacking anything -- I had my aunt Kathy, and I had my godfathers, particularly Dave, and I don't think most avuncular stuff is particularly gendered. Maybe I missed out on particularly gendered avuncular stuff, but if I did, I haven't become aware of it as a grown-up. I look at the Hallmark cards that say, "Kind of like a sister, kind of like a friend...MY AUNT," and I think, really? Do people have aunts like that? Because it doesn't describe most aunt-niece relationships I hear about, and it definitely doesn't describe most aunt-nephew relationships I hear about.
So I expect being Auntie Missa or Auntie Ris or Auntie Stupidhead* or whatever this kiddo calls me to be different from being Uncle markgritter because markgritter and I are different, not because being an aunt is all that different from being an uncle. And I expect the main difference between being a good aunt and being close with kids who have no blood ties is the rest of the family relationship. But I've never done this before. I could be wrong. It'll be fun finding out.
*Roo used to call timprov "Unca Dim." My dad said, "Does he mind that the baby calls him dim?" I said, "timprov loves that kid so much that if Robin called him Uncle Stupidhead, timprov would say, 'How cool! He has a special name for me!'"