I’m also really mindful of not being too imposing. We know our boundaries in our family, but we do still try to not be too smothering. It’s important for my sister and her partner to navigate it on their own too – it’s a new stage of life for them, and they still want to be parents without having people around all the time. I’m just always open with my sister, and will just say, ‘hey, I’m free between this time and this time if you need me to come over, but no worries if not.’ It’s just about putting the ball in their court, and letting them know you’re there. Sometimes it can just be dropping coffees or some baking on their doorstep – I think those little things can make such a big difference if someone’s not feeling the best.
You don’t need to be a biological aunty to be an aunty, either. I’m ‘Aunty Jess’ to lots of my friends’ kids, and I still try and play that supportive role where I can. So many people don’t have the luxury of having family close by, and so that idea of it taking a village to raise a child takes on even more importance. It’s not that we have an obligation to look out for and support our friends’ kids, we all live busy and complicated lives of our own. It’s more that if we do find the time and space lean in to those networks, and we do come together as a community, then I think that can be so rewarding for everyone involved – not just the parents getting the support.
And for, Zadie, too, my sisters, mum and I are just trying to be the best role models for her that we can. Hopefully that comes through in our actions more than anything. But being an aunty is the best, and while I don’t do any of this because I’m looking for thanks, I think it’s so important for us to be able to acknowledge the role our aunts and our children’s aunts play in our lives too.