When I saw the headline of Kate Bolick‘s New York Times piece, “Let’s Hear It For Aunthood,” I couldn’t help but think of all the CatholicMatch members who so proudly and prominently features photos of their nieces and nephews in their profile scrapbooks.
I have to admit, sometimes I see these photos and sense an invisible caption: “Look at me! I’m good parent material! I love kids – doesn’t that melt your heart and make you want to marry me?”
But that’s a pretty cynical response, and most of the time, those photos reflect real, meaningful bonds, a natural outpouring of close-knit families and loving singles. As someone who is not yet a mom and absolutely loves being an aunt, I get it.
We last blogged about Kate when she appeared on the cover of the November Atlantic with the headline “What, Me Marry?” Now I would love to hear your thoughts on her ode to aunthood. Here’s an excerpt, beginning with the birth of her first niece three and a half years ago:
Ever since, I’ve been going around telling people that Sophie is my most passionate relationship. I play it as a rueful quip about the state of my romantic life, but in truth I’m deadly serious. When I’m low, I scroll through the latest batch of digital photos sent by her mother and sit back as my brain floods with endorphins.
A real-life visit, when Sophie leaps into my arms, presses her tiny cheek against mine and won’t let go, is an endorphin tsunami. Later, when she starts shrieking in tongues and throwing handfuls of pennies across the room, her parents whisk her off to bed and I settle down with a novel.
In June, the Pew Research Center reported that nearly 1 in 5 American women in her early 40s has never had a child — compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s. I suspect the Census Bureau doesn’t have a line tallying the current aunt population. But it stands to reason that as women marry and have children later, if at all, they have more time to enjoy being an aunt. How many of these single, childless women wonder, as I have, if being an aunt beats being a mother?
Popular American culture and literature tend to hold up aunts as spinsters, not heroines, Kate notes. She also points to an interesting web development for this group:
In April, Melanie Notkin, a social-media entrepreneur, seized on this underrepresented underclass with “Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids” (William Morrow). Her book is a spinoff of her Web site, savvyauntie.com, which aims to be an “all-inclusive guide” for what she calls PANKs: Professional Aunts No Kids. It’s a rallying girl-call in high chick-lit style: lots of hot pink and cheerful advice filed under rubrics like “Auntre-Nous: Straight Talk for the Childless Auntie” and “The Importance of QualAuntie Time.”
Tell me, CatholicMatchers, do fun nieces and nephews make celebrating the holidays single more bearable? Are you looking forward to seeing them at Thanksgiving?
What role does aunthood or unclehood play in your lives? Do you see it as something that makes you more attractive, more marriage-ready, in the eyes of a potential suitor? Did you mention nieces and nephews in your CatholicMatch profile? Why?
Guys, do photos of you with your adorable Goddaughter at her First Communion melt the ladies’ hearts? Do you whip them out strategically? (Be honest.) Or is that thought far from your mind?