I don’t have children and there were days I mourned that. In general though I am very happy and content and think being an auntie is the best thing in my world.

I said recently to a friend, “God won’t ask me how faithful I have been with the thousands of people I have been engaged with but how faithful I have been with my nieces and nephews God entrusted to me”.

As 2023 has been a very joyful and busy year of working and travelling, I intentionally spent time with all of my 15 nieces and nephews over the past 6 weeks. And what a joy and fun it has been. And surely lots of sugar and other things parents don’t usually buy. 😃 Being an auntie costs something!

Here are some snapshots of my encounters:

* The youngest 9-month old nephews gives very sloppy kisses and loves to laugh

* The 2,5-year old does not want kisses but really wanted to help me paint

* The 6-year old told his mum to write me: please bring the dog and sweets. When I came through the door, content was checked and approved

* Rare evening with 2 nieces (14 and 18) watching a film together because normally we can never agree. I suffered through the “Escape room”

* 6-year old told me he does not intend to marry me anymore but we can be friends

* 10-year old got a mobile phone and tells me all the time I am her favourite auntie, meaning I also received 70 pictures from her holidays

* 12-year old wanted to have dinner with me and she chose tapas. First thing she said: Your liver sucks. You should quit alcohol and sugar. Like she knows my consumption. Since she is 8, she is a vegetarian and now has no sugar to help restore the sanity of her liver. Her parents don’t allow her supplements but give her beetroot and 2 eggs daily. Ordering food – she chose one favourite dish: dates wrapped in crispy bacon. Like what? Her reply: with auntie I can break some rules

* Ordering food with some kids: “the good thing is, our auntie has a bank card. She always has money”. Right…

* 15-year old told me about his camp experience and helping with 15 boys sleeping at a church. He fell asleep on me …

* 12-year old: “when I am 14, I will apply to be a model. Until then I train daily in my room and exercise”. And her girl friends cannot disturb or interfere. She needs to tick this off her list. When did this young generation become so self- disciplined? When I was 12 … Oh my goodness!

* “Auntie, can I tell you a secret?” – and I hear about their fears, struggles in school, things they should not have watched, crazy drinks

* Agreeing together: sometimes they behave better with me than with their parents

Am I blessed or what? 😃

May I be a blessing to them and love them unconditionally. For their sake!