I was thirteen years old when I became an aunt. I remember thinking it was very funny that my cousin was thirteen years older than me, and now that I was the same age he had been when I was born, I was given a niece. But mostly I remember going home the day I found out I was becoming an aunt, I remember laying in bed and thinking about the high bar I was then supposed to jump over.
My aunts have played a vital role in my life. They showed me how to be a kind, passionate, and hard working human being. They winked their eye when they knew it was alright to ignore what my parents are saying, and they scolded me when I did something wrong. They have always been by my side when I need them, all of my aunts have helped me become who I am today, and I knew that I owed it to them to become a good aunt myself. They had shown me the ropes, and it was my responsibility to take over.
And so I held my first niece in my arms and I silently vowed to make my aunts proud. I helped change her diapers, I warmed her bottles, and I recorded some of her first giggles. And then came my nephew, and another niece, and another one, and another one. Every single time I repeated the vow and I committed to it as their baby fingers closed around my thumb.
When it was time to make the decision on where to go to college, I would be lying if I said that my nephews were not a big factor on me wanting to stay in Mexico. I watched them playing with each other, stumbling on their wobbly legs, and growing up right before my eyes. My oldest niece was six, and I knew that leaving meant missing her birthday for the next four years, missing all of my nephews' birthdays for four years. I revised my aunt contract as I played tea time with one of my nieces, I tried to decide what would be best for them as she poured me imaginary tea into a plastic cup that had once been mine. Going away meant missing them every single day, but it also meant fighting for what I wanted, it meant showing my nephews that it's worth making sacrifices once you've found your passion.
So I told them I was leaving, my oldest niece understood perfectly, as she had lived away from us for a long time, so she let me go promising to play with me as soon as I came back. My nephew kissy-kissed my cheek for the first time in months. And so I left, I swapped Sunday tea parties and hide-and-seeks for pictures and videos on Facebook. And although it breaks my heart every time I FaceTime them and they ask me why I haven't been home, even though the job of being an aunt is taxing when you are forced to be away from your little ones, being an aunt is the best job in the world for three main reasons.
The Hours: You never know when you will be required. Being an aunt is a 24 hour job. It's about walking into a toy store and carefully going over every single colorful toy and choosing the perfect one, it's about spending hours sprawled in the children section of a library, reading stories to decide which one you want to read out loud to them. Being an aunt means being prepared at all times, being prepared to kiss an ouchie, to answer awkward questions, to break into an improvised dance party. It means being prepared even when you are not around, it means blinking away the tears when someone sends you a picture and you see how much they've changed. Being an aunt is being blessed 24/7.
The Qualifications: You learn so much from this job. Regardless of whether you want to have children of your own, being an aunt is excellent training to become a mother. You learn to clap at their smallest feats, to make up the craziest bedtime stories, to rush over as fast as you can when you are being called. Your arms get strong from picking them up, from pushing swings, from carrying toys down the stairs for them. Being an aunt qualifies you to be an actor, a doctor, a teacher, and a detective (someone has to find all the toys when playtime is over).
The Salary: Is there anything better than one of your nephews squealing in joy when they see you? Is there anything that tops them running into your arms? Because I don't think anyone could pay me enough to quit my job.