Saturday, 8 February 2014

With Married People With Kids

Well, I have been remiss in blogging, for I have been out and about, taking buses and trains to visit friends and family. I don't know how mommy bloggers do it, for if I had children, I don't think I'd be able to blog. As I was writing in my travel journal today, my three-year-old niece appeared in a pink leotard and tutu and began to dance. Well, who can write under such conditions?

I am a Baby Ballet slave. The Ballet Baby having, apropos of nothing, told me that "Jesus is very nice", I gave her a prayer card with Our Lady of Czestochowa on it. She ran away immediately to put it in a special box containing a miniature melon and a tiny lamb wearing a gingham dress. My heart melted, and my IQ dropped ten points.

Really, babies. A drug. Last week I was in a café designed for art-loving mummies and their babies--very much a place for Mommies who Lunch--and a little Korean-Canadian girl, about one and a half, pointed to me and squeaked, "Emu! Emu!"

"It means 'Aunt'," explained her mother, and I was blown away by the brilliance of this child.

"Yes, I am," I said. "I am an Auntie."

My heart melted, and my IQ dropped ten points.

Of course, in many cultures, an Auntie is any older woman who appears to be friendly with one's parents. This is true, in a moderate way, in English-speaking Canada, too. It's old-fashioned. I'm old-fashioned. And I love being an auntie.

One of the benefits of being an auntie is that it is usually part-time work, and I don't want to insult the small children of the world, but they seem to run their parents ragged. I don't know many mothers with little children in Scotland, so I am struck by how loving yet tired my Canadian friends with children are. Tired and sometimes frustrated. And lonely. The stay-at-home mummies are lonelier than the working mummies. The working mummies get to see other adults and have adult conversations. The stay-at-home mummies really depend on other women taking the time to cross town to see them, or to see them around children's activities. The mummy café on Toronto's Roncesvalles is not just a brilliant idea, it's a true service to the community.

Doting grandparents are extremely helpful. Occasionally grandparents take the kids away--and then some of the parents are vaguely uneasy. Suddenly they want to spend MORE time with their kids... I'm not sure I really understand parents-of-little-kids, really.

At any rate, from listening to stay-at-home mummies I have come to the not so original conclusion that the grass is always greener on the other side. Some stay-at-home mums really want to work, for the sake of money and companionship and their expensive(in time and effort as well as money) educations, but then they don't want to be away from their babies. Other stay-at-homes are fine with staying at home, but would love an extra pair of hands to help out with the endless cleaning. This married, childless aunt is in total thrall to any girl child between the ages of six months and five.

Meanwhile, once again, I find the best cure for the Childless Blues is to go home to Canada and see how the Childfull live. And the Childfull are flatteringly happy to see me. For one thing, I am good for two back-to-back storybook sessions. Last night I carted a wailing child away to a couch where I deposited her on cushions and read her the tale of "Madge the Tickling Midge." I had already read her and her brother "Darth Vader and Son", absolutely straight-faced.

Ah, it's good to be an aunt.


Kate P said...


Auntie of five (one niece and four nephews, all of whom hold a special place in my heart)

Notburga said...

How I feel with you!
Unfortunately, I am no auntie (being an only child, and single).
Until some three years ago, when friends of mine started having children, I never, ever, had anything to do with small children (or older children either, very much).
Picture my absolute and continuing amazement that I am able, on my all-too-rare visits to friends with children, to actually amuse <3-year olds by helping them make fake sandwiches and tea, or looking at books, or letting marbles roll on marble runs again and again and again (it helps that marble runs are one of my unfulfilled desires from childhood, but nevertheless).
It seems such a compliment that these little people put up with me, a complete inept, children-wise.
And I go absolutely gooey too, looking at babies. Best thing I can do with that, at the moment, is trying to make female students with babies feel that having a baby is a really good thing, even if it makes studying more difficult (and trying to be a little bit of help in that department).

Julia said...

I'm with you on the mummy- bloggers. I'm not a mother (or an aunt), but I think I have at least a vague clue about the workloads of parents, and I'm seriously impressed that mums can find the time to blog. I'm pretty much in constant awe of parents, actually.

Sunnysaffer said...

My friend who has a four-month-old
has asked me to babysit this Wednesday while she and her husband have a night out. Something about a course to learn to make coffee so not very exciting, but my friend is super excited at the thought of being out of the house and free of baby for a few hours and I am deliriously happy at the thought of having baby Maria to myself for three whole hours. Win-win! And of course at the end of the evening I will be quite happy to hand her back to Mum and my friend will be relieved to be reunited with her child.

s said...

How EVER did you manage to read 'Darth Vader and Son' with a straight face?! :D

& yes, tired and lonely sums it up.

Sheila said...

Tired. Yeah, that about sums it up. I am never not tired. Eight days ago I had a really good night's sleep (only up twice, and went straight back to sleep after each!) and I have been dropping IQ points since.

Yeah, I have time to blog ... sometimes. But I hope my readers are understanding when my dithering begins to sound rather addled. I listen to nonsensical prattle all day, and it is a bit catching!

I type this as the littles dismantle the couch. Sometimes you just have to let them make a mess while you work up enough energy to clean it up when they're finished!

And yes, if any of you were to come to my house and offer to take the kids for the afternoon so I could nap, I'd be so overwhelmingly grateful I would probably cry. And then after a few hours I would start texting and asking when you'd be back, because I just miss them so much when they aren't in my face. It's rather difficult to love anybody this much, especially when it's a sort of anybody that doesn't sleep through the night or take itself to the toilet. They are bottomless pits of need, while I am a finite person who is expected to deal with all this. And yet ... I can't stand to be without them very much. Especially because I know perfectly well that they cry if I'm gone too long. It's an awful thing to feel responsible for.

Sheila said...

And you know, I am a bit jealous that I'm not an auntie myself! My boys have 14 aunts and uncles and none of them has yet gotten married. So I miss out on the delight of having a child friend that I could be with *sometimes.*