Almost a year ago David, who is Nephew Travis’ boyfriend, texted me to tell me that the kids were watching the Harry Potter movies and they decided I was Molly Weasley.
He has, I am fairly certain, been regretting that text ever since.
I tease them about being an overweight, strangely dressed, frumpy and dumpy woman with scads of red curly hair. We joke about the cooking and knitting.
We never talk about the fierce.
I watch over these young people, trying to love them with open hands. I try so very hard (and so often fail) to bite my tongue and leave off the criticism and only share the love and the support. I try to be the practical person who tells them about banking and cooking and how to buy shoes. I try to keep my worries and my fretting silenced, shared only in my prayers. I try not to pry.
Molly is none of that, nowhere near so distanced. She lectures, hectors and loves, passionately. Her children, whatever else they may have or not have, will always know they are loved.
These young people that I love – they are not my children. And they will never be at my house for Christmas, for Mother’s Day. I will not be the first phone call upon engagement or child birth. I am not their mother.
It’s hard to write this without sounding terribly pathetic, and terribly pathetic isn’t what I am going for. It is not the same thing – at all – to be an Aunt. It insults motherhood and my relationship to them to equate the two. There are different rules, different affinities and different bonds between the two.
Five years ago I realized that the only way make my peace with Gabriel’s death, with my lack of children was to find contentment in what I had. I have mostly done this. I accept the gift of my nieces and nephews for what it is – a chance to love others, a chance to help nurture and care for them. I try not to focus on what it will never be: the same as having children of my own. Being an Aunt is not a substitute for being a mother.
And in Molly Weasley I see the mother I would most like to have become – caring, passionate, fierce and loving. Deeply involved.
So this – on Sunday night I joke with the kids about being fat and frumpy. I joke about Weasley jumpers as I make them socks for Christmas. Sometimes I stray too far into their lives. And when it becomes that – when it becomes too lecturing and too passionate, I step back and remember, I am not Molly Weasley.
I don’t know who I am. There are no grand roles for Aunts.
And I don’t ever tell David – I regret the text too.