The Aunties Are Alright
FYSA: WE GOOD.
Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year for Black People Memes. One of my favorites is the #ThanksgivingClapback. But...if we look beyond the surface, it’s a damn mess. It’s basically us knowing we have to walk into family situations ready for WAR. Which war? The war of our less self-aware relatives constantly offending us, of course. As we prepare for the holiday season...the aunties are especially on my heart. I'm here to represent them and offer some tools for family navigation. Because it can be a lot. A whole damn lot.
Being an Auntie is an incredible experience. It is one of the things I feel most proud of. Being 15 years in the game, I love being able to pour into the lives of the children of the people I love most in the world. I consider the impact of my actions like “what kind of world will my little peeps be in if I make the following decision…”.
As I peruse brands and IG accounts centered around Auntie-ness, it makes me so happy! I’m so glad the world is catching up to the ACTUAL energy. This is an amazing space to be in. The Auntie genre is one full of women who know who they are, drink the best wine, understand and live by luxurious standards, and our music is better than everyone else’s.
So let's get the dark side out of the way...
The Auntie is multifaceted and each side needs to be seen. We see the “together” exterior. Do you also know she can often feel low or unseen when the topic turns to settling down/children? It bewilders me how the most incredible women I know (executives, community leaders, overall baddest of the bad, etc.) can shift into an insecure ball of nerves this time of year just at the thought of having to deal with their loved ones and insensitive friends.
Luckily in my immediate family, we show love to everyone and the role of the auntie is respected. I get Mother’s Day gifts from my little peeps just as if I were a bio mamma. Even before I became a Bonus Mamma, it’s never been weird. You won't find me fellowshipping where I am made to feel weird honestly.
You may not fully understand the journey and life choices of an Auntie. Luckily, it is not for one to understand. It is only for one to RESPECT. Consider that what may be intended as curiosity can come off as criticism/judgment. That doesn’t feel good to anyone. Regardless of the intention, being an Auntie can have its challenges because in many cases, family is constantly asking when you’re going to have kids and why or why not-you know, clocking your uterus in general, reminding you of your age and so on. Yep, this is a reality for some.
It isn’t always easy for women to move in the world. Having to answer questions about your reproductive situations is a boundary violation that we should all be aware of. Seriously y'all, stop being draining.
Before you inquire someone’s status, consider whether you are:
- Antagonizing someone's fertility struggle,
- Triggering someone who doesn't want children due to childhood trauma of their own,
- Questioning the sound decision of an adult who simply decided on a different journey,
- Embarrassing someone who may already be self-conscious about their love life situation, or
- Triggering someone who doesn't have financial means to raise children at this time.
- Not minding your own beeswax.
Here's a funny (wild) example of what I mean...
I remember when I officially questioned a distant relative’s judgment when I got my doctorate because they commented “Okay, now when are you having some kids?!” On my graduation announcement Facebook status. YALL.
I was certain that while they didn't intend harm, people never think about how they come off. They just focus on the need to "say stuff." In 2021, we cannot make throw away statements without accepting responsibility for the damage it does. Instead of getting upset, I felt compassion. People experience you within their own level of understanding of the world and form projections from there. The higher the level of self-awareness and understanding, the fewer projections are formed and acted upon. From what I understand, for some people, having children is the ultimate accomplishment. I honor that. The fact that I was happy with my life and had accomplished something major for our generation was instantly minimized to whether or not I still planned to have children. Wild. But I couldn't take that on.
We are in a season where women are owning their Auntie-ness. Aunties are walking in their power so much that you know HER when you see her. More often than not, this woman is confident, together, loving, traveling the world, vibrant, beautiful and often with endless resources to dote on their loved ones.
The narrative is shifting. There is something in the air where people are starting to see that marriage and children don’t define a woman’s worth or lack thereof. The stigma is dated and super confusing. I’m so glad we are shedding it. We are finally getting to a place where you sound crazy questioning or pitying a woman who is clearly living her best life, as though it is something to be ashamed of.
This year, I encourage you to love on the Aunties in your life in a unique way that sees and acknowledges them. Stop asking her when she’s getting married or what have you. That dialogue is lazy. Banter is so dangerous.
Here are some conversation starters if you are struggling with communication (spoiler alert: social media gives you ALL THE CONTENT you need to pull from).
- Insecure’s final season (especially that Lawrence vs. Condola episode or maybe "are you a Molly or an Issa?")
- Argue about the vaccine
- How is your career going? Any new/interesting projects going on?
- Black Lives Matter
- How’s your friend [insert name from latest social media post]?
- New Kids on the Block vs. New Edition at the AMAs.
- Reels vs. Tik Tok (what the hell are either of these about???)
- Nicki Minaj hosting RHOP
- You been watching [insert tv show she loves] this season?
- Where’s your next trip? Bonus: Ask about the last one.
- Joe Budden vs Rory & Mal
- Thank her for the way she loves on your little peeps.
- Kevin Samuels in general
- What’s her favorite perfume right now?
- Try to finagle a babysitting night from her.
- Did they ever arrest the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor?
- New Recipes
- Mental health check in
- Dave Chapelle
One more thing I need to say is, the data confirms that we normally jump into other people's lives because there is something we aren't dealing with in our own. So think about your motivations before you speak and/or post. There are no accidents. Everything has a motivation. Over the years, my most bizarre conversations have been from people who are unhappily married or estranged from their own immediate family in some way. These things matter because they are blindspots. Our blindspots are our own responsibility.
As we grow more seasoned, I laugh at the type of Auntie I am and also the Aunties I surround myself with. Some of my best Mom friends are amazing aunties too! We LOVE on ourselves, our families and each other constantly. You see a good amount of it online because we are INTENTIONAL about showing love and being each other’s safe spaces.
- Keep your tribe close when you walk into the trenches.
- Vent to your group threads instead of cursing people out.
- Pretend you have another engagement and get out of there ASAP.
- Go smoke with your favorite cousin.
- Have some wine. Or a shot.
- Watch The Office on your phone.
- Play with the little peeps.
- Reciprocating WILD energy is never worth it. They won’t change until they're ready and that is NOT your responsibility.