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Let Us Now Celebrate Aunties
Eventually she did have a child of her own who at least had the good manners to be a boy (and not hog the fancy dresses). Still, it was my Aunt Mariana that I thought of when I read Kate Bolick's eloquent piece in the New York Times about aunthood. Bolick suggests that as more woman choose to stay childless, the devoted aunt is becoming an integral element of the modern family. And good thing for kids, since, as she writes, "The aunt exists outside the immediate family unit, ambassador to a universe of other options, as well as — crucially — a grown-up who isn’t an authority figure or disciplinarian." After all, how cool can your own parents be? Realistically, not very.
Today's aunt is less Auntie Em and more, as Bolick puts it, "the glamorously madcap Auntie Mame...Holly Golightly with crow’s feet." There's even an online community for PANKs, or Professional Aunts, No Kids, presumably a far more chic and fun personage than the Professional Mom. Still, Bolick argues that this familial role is underappreciated, and the essay diverts into a terrific rundown of aunthood (or lack therof) in mythology and around the world. But to me it also articulates something about what children (and maybe adults, too) crave in their lives: a relationship defined by "not only passionate love but blessed freedom;" a person who actually has attention for them and them alone.
How to be a super-Aunt: One woman's no-fail advice
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