I come from a large, close-knit family, which helped instill in me a desire to have a family of my own. In fact, as a young girl I had planned to someday have no fewer than 10 children. However, at the age of 31 I had not yet realized my lifelong dream of becoming a wife and mother.
As the years had passed, each of my four sisters had married and had children. I felt awkward being the only single sibling and wasn’t sure where I fit into our family picture or what I could offer as a single woman. I tried to have faith that someday the blessings of marriage and motherhood would be mine, but at times my faith wavered and I felt very alone.
I did enjoy my numerous nieces and nephews and always took great pride in their growth and accomplishments. I attended numerous blessings and baptisms, birthday parties, and school plays. I was even present for the birth of my youngest niece, Kayleigh, with whom I share a special bond.
Not long ago I had an experience that helped me to see my role a bit more clearly. I was playing with Kayleigh one day when she suddenly stopped what she was doing, looked at me, and asked, “Are you a mommy?”
I was caught off guard by her question and felt a twinge of pain that seemed to shoot through my whole being. I answered her, “No, I’m not a mommy.”
She seemed confused at my reply and posed the question again: “Are you a mommy?” The urgency in her young voice seemed to indicate she wanted me to give her a more “truthful” answer this time.
Again I replied, “No, Kayleigh, I’m not a mommy. I’m an aunt.”
She still didn’t understand. A few seconds went by as she thought about what I had told her. Then she looked at me and asked softly, “Are you an aunt-mommy?”
At first I laughed at how cute she was. I thought her understanding was limited because she was so young. But then I realized she was much more insightful than I. She knew that I loved her, that I would protect her, comfort her, and play with her. She knew she could trust me and depend on me. In her eyes, I was like a mommy and I was an important person in her life, whether I had children of my own or not.
I answered her affirmatively: “Yes, Kayleigh, I am an aunt-mommy!”
I now understand that one does not have to be married or have children to be of value. There are many opportunities to influence the lives of others and to be touched by those who surround us. As I gather together with my family members, I enjoy being part of a loving family that values me for who and what I am at this time in my life. Though I still hope to have a family of my own someday, I am happy to be an aunt-mommy for now.
This article may furnish material for a family home evening discussion or for personal consideration. You might consider questions such as:
How can each of us feel valued regardless of our marital or family status?
When some parts of our lives don’t turn out as we had hoped, how can we find happiness in other ways?
What can we do to help single family members feel valued and included?