A work conference in Europe happened to coincide with my niece’s 3rd birthday and it was such a privilege to celebrate it with her in person. I love watching kids open presents and she’s now at the age that she’s also interested in what’s inside, and not just the wrapping paper. She also knew that she was getting 3 candles on her cake! I guess the party itself could have been very painful but it wasn’t. It was just a lot of fun.

One advantage of being an aunt without kids is that I can give my nieces 100% attention. I’m not distracted by my own kids. So I could be silly in the sand pit and paddling pool. I could listen to her stories, and give piggy back rides and play crazy games. It was also fun because my sister’s friends didn’t just talk about their kids! It’s small things like this that can make the difference at these events. I was actually encouraged as most of the parents were around my age or even a bit older. We chatted and laughed about all sorts of things, including the kids, but not exclusively. I could join in the conversations and wasn’t made to feel like the one without. My advice to people without children is sometimes to embrace these events. Sure sometimes they are painful (and I would have made my excuses and gone inside) but they can also be a lot of fun. My advice to parents is to be sensitive to those of us who don’t have kids and make sure that you include us in the conversations – you also need a break from talking about diapers and potty training! It can be win-win.

I also spent a few days at their house and I’m always really grateful that my sister and brother-in-law basically give me carte blanche with their daughters. They don’t hover over me, telling me what to do, you know, because I don’t have my own kids. Even this time when I made a rookie mistake and put my 3 year old niece down for her nap without a diaper. I just helped clear up the poo! And my sister laughed. Oh potty training is so much fun! Staying in a home with babies always make me appreciate the sleep I can get too! Sure, I’d give that all up for children of my own, but it’s still really nice to sleep through the night!

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