I must apologize.
Yes, it's just my 4th, well actually my 5th, blog posting, and I am already apologizing. You see, dear Readers, I had to take down my 4th blog post entitled: A Picture is Worth...," by request of my siblings. I had included an image of a drawing that my niece had made for me, where I am wearing the most beautiful rainbow dress, and spoke about how that drawing means the world to me. But my siblings thought that by posting it, even without mentioning her name, it invaded her privacy. And so I respected their wishes and removed it.
Being an Auntie is the best job in the world. We fall in love with our nieces and nephews from the moment we see them for the first time. We want to give them the earth, moon and stars. We want to celebrate them. From the moment they are born, our life is bigger than ever we imagined it to be.
When I started my company - SavvyAuntie.com - it was an organic idea that came to me when I realized that there were no resources available for the modern, cosmopolitan aunt. I found it frustrating that I didn't know the words or tunes to basic kiddie songs. I learned about Dora the Explorer from my nieces when they were aged two. Bob the Builder? Different from Bob Vila, in case you were wondering. Ming Ming? Turns out she's a beloved Nickelodeon WonderPets character, not a Chinese dynasty.
I had changed diapers, but never at this rate. I had fed bottles, but never to one-day-old infants. I had given hugs and kisses, but never with all my heart. Now my life was filled with books, songs, games, toys, characters, movies, boo boos, tears, laughter, surprises, rashes, baths, disappointments, bigger issues I wont get into here, and love. Real, true, never-before-felt-anything-like-this love.
And so I set out to create a community online for Aunties like me. First it started out as a guide on how to be a Savvy Auntie to nieces and nephews of all ages. After all - what could be more wonderful than a community for Aunties learning about how to care for the kids in their lives, as well as a place to celebrate and love (and let's admit it, show off) their nieces and nephews? It would be a community full of joy and devotion. Along with Gift ideas, Activities and Expertise.
Naturally, within days of dreaming up the idea for SavvyAuntie.com, I began talking to Aunts. Lots of Aunts. First time Aunts. Aunts of adult kids. Aunties by choice (friends with mom/dad). Aunts of one. Aunts of twenty. Aunts next door. Aunts 5000 miles away. Aunts named Auntie, Mimi, Shishi, Gigi, or just her first name. Aunts who don't think they are good Aunts. Aunts who think they are uber Aunts. Guilty Aunts. Spoiling Aunts. Great Aunts. Cool Aunts. Dealing-with-the-parents'-divorce Aunts. Too-ill-to-play Aunts. Godmothers. Mommy Aunties. Married Aunties. Single Aunties. And Aunts more or less like me.
And yet, with all these differences, there was so much we all had in common. Being an Auntie, the truth is, is not just about the good stuff. It's not always giggles and swim goggles and Googling gift ideas. We all have to work within the rules of the family. "She wouldn't let me touch the baby for months!" cried one desperate Auntie. "They expect me to babysit all the time - but I want to go to a party and meet someone," exclaimed a single Auntie. "I never do the right thing. It's like they lost respect for my intelligence once they had kids because I don't have kids yet," said one Auntie. "They never visit me. I always have to travel to see them, which is getting expensive. It's like they hold the kids hostage," complained another Auntie.
Being an Auntie is about being part of a family or, if an Auntie by Choice, someone else's family. And I think we can all relate to the fact that "family" is not always easy. For that reason, SavvyAuntie.com will launch with a "Dear Savvy Auntie" column with actual psychologists, coaches and therapists to answer Aunties' questions and help Aunties cope. There are also Forums and Groups where Aunties can connect, support and empower each other. And each Auntie can start her own Blog - where she is free to write about any aspect of Aunt-hood she likes. (As long as it wont get her in trouble with her siblings, I suspect.)
I have been asked by my brother and SIL not to talk about the little ones in my family in this Blog or on SavvyAuntie.com. At first, I thought it put me in a bit of a predicament, understanding that as Founder and CEO of SavvyAuntie.com, I should be the leader and help all Aunties celebrate their special relationships with their nieces and nephews - sometimes by sharing my relationship with my own, even in generic terms. Now, after taking a day or two to think about it, I realize that the best leader I can be is to be an authentic one.
While I love my nieces and nephew to the nth degree, Aunt-hood has plenty of challenges. Just like motherhood comes with it's own. Just like marriage comes with it's own. Just like singlehood comes with its own. Just like family comes with it's own. It's not always "Hokey Pokey." But it's real. And that, my dear Readers, both as a CEO and as an Auntie, is all I can be.
PS - Aunties needing to cope - SavvyAuntie.com is launching soon. Sign up for the Beta Test so we can get your questions - and answers - in first!