My sister has been asking me when I’m going to have a child, because she’s dying to aunts. Here’s how it happened:
One day last year she came over and didn’t bring her daughter with her, which was weird. Then she asked if we could go for a walk, outside of course – that woman hates shopping malls more than I do! Well, things got heavy fast. She started talking about how everyone in the family is having kids left and right but there’s only me and my brother who are single still. How did that happen? And don’t get her started on all our friends having kids!
It went on like this for an hour before she finally admitted why she was really upset: Her own child had just turned 18, so she was feeling more than a little jealous. She accused me of not knowing what I’m missing. But you know what? That really hurt!
Because even though I’m hardly an expert on child rearing, I have been part of an extended family my entire life. And I’ve seen how there’s always one kid in the mix who ends up being everyone’s favorite – kind of like starring in their own reality show. Except that instead of fame and fortune, they get your undivided attention, 24 hours a day 7 days a week for years at a time .
And that doesn’t include the stress! Not only do you have to worry about raising them right but you also feel responsible if they make mistakes. You’re not allowed to back down like you would with an adult because they’re now under your care, and it’s now your job to make sure that their little lives turn out okay. And if for whatever reason things don’t go according to plan, who do you think is going to get the blame?
That’s why even though I like children in general, I’ve never wanted the responsibility of having any of my own. But she didn’t want to hear any of this! She accused me of being selfish and said that her daughter was just as important as anyone else in the family, which is why she doesn’t understand why I’d deny her “the opportunity” to be an auntie. Then she went on another hour-long rant about how much joy and “purpose” it brings to her life, yada yada yada.
I finally got my sister back on topic by reminding her that I was never planning to have kids in the first place, which is when she dropped the real bombshell: She spent a year trying to convince me to take one of her daughter’s friends under my wing. That way we’d both get what we wanted: She gets another kid for free and doesn’t lose face with the family, and I get a child without all the responsibility.
When I asked why she thought this would be an ideal solution, she said that since this girl had just turned 18 – like her own daughter – it meant that if things went badly, I’d be off the hook. She also said that she didn’t see a downside to getting “a decent kid” for me, and asked what was so great about being single if it meant giving up on things like this?
Well, I finally had enough. First of all, there’s no way I’m taking on some perfect stranger just because her mother is feeling sorry for herself! Second of all, having another adult around would only mean more responsibility , not less! And third of all – why does everyone keep acting as if being married or having kids is the only worthwhile goal in life?!
So that’s how I told my sister not to bring her friend over anymore. But she keeps texting me with updates on how “great” and “amazing” her daughter’s friend is. It was all I could do to stop myself from texting back: “That’s what happens when you plant your seed in fertile soil!” Man, I should’ve kept my big mouth shut…