I think I'm safe to tell the world that I'm going to be an auntie again soon, as my younger sister Megan is expecting her first baby in August. Currently nicknamed 'Mooglet' this new addition to the family will be a cousin for little Isaac (my Brother's son), who'll be four by the time he or she arrives. Both my parents are only children (Mum's recently discovered long-lost Kiwi half-brother notwithstanding), so the whole cousin thing has largely bypassed our generation - though we do get along famously with our mother's cousins, who are quite a bit younger than her, and actually nearer in age to us. But they lived in Anglesey while we were growing up in Eastbourne, so we never got to know them well until they all de-camped to London (apart from Ginny, who escaped all the way to New Zealand!) as adults. So I've always envied the special relationship that other people (including my other half) seem to have with their cousins - especially when they live nearby and are of a similar age.
More intimate than friends, but less annoying than siblings who you have to put up with all the time, cousins are fun childhood allies to have, or so it always seemed to me as an outsider. I suppose being an uncle or auntie is a similar experience - you can build up a special bond with a niece or nephew, and have a go at all the enjoyable aspects of parenting, but give them back before it becomes too waring and cuts into your social life and sleep patterns. I love looking after Isaac, I really do, and most of the time he is great company to have around. Ant and I had him to stay for the night on Monday, and although it was eerily quiet when he went, I was also quite relieved to have the house back to myself. Perhaps I'm more cut out for auntie-hood than parenthood, being as I am, rather set it my (un) ways these days.
I'm absolutely delighted that my auntie-duties are shortly set to be extended, even though I'm still trying to get my head around the idea of my ickle baby sister being pregnant! It seems only yesterday that we were up in the attic playing with Sindy dolls and Care Bears, or putting on face paint and pretending to be mice (or was it cats?) in the bath (as in the above picture). I suppose it should make me feel old, all this growing-up going on around me, but being the only non-breeder left, I feel duty-bound to enjoy the freedom that my siblings have relinquished favour of parenthood. I suppose I'd better brush up my nappy-changing skills too, it's been a while.