Are You a Sacred Aunt? The story of a child-free woman's purpose in community
I was at a party last night and met a woman in her 40’s without children. In my new openness to talk about being childless, I gently asked her more about her story. She told me freely that her heart will never fully heal from not having had a child; but that she made choices to stay with the love of her life even though they were not able to conceive.
She continued to tell me she met an Aboriginal Elder a few years earlier who told her that traditionally there were women who chose not to have children within some communities. Their roll was to be the Aunt.
The role of the Aunt is to love and help raise the children in the community. She is a sacred and respected part of the community, and has no children of her own.
This woman continued tell me how important it is for children to know there is always a safe woman there for them. Sometimes a woman would become an aunt because she had no children of her own. Other times the woman would either volunteer or be chosen by the elders to take on this role within the community. To be an Aunt was considered a sacred position within the community that is honored and respected by everyone.
I thought back to my childhood and the adopted Aunt who graced my life. Her thick red hair that hung free over her shoulders. I felt her love deeper than water, she held me close, spoiled me with treats, taught me to spin wool, and was always patient with me. I agreed at the value of an Aunt, from the depths of my heart.
I left that evening feeling touched by her acceptance and peace in the lineage she had chosen to adopt in her own story, as a woman without children of her own.
Can you remember an Aunt who touched your life as a child, if not, could you imagine the value of this connection? Perhaps you might eventually extend your heart to another child, or a child may choose you as their guardian and Aunt.
* Please note, i do not know if this is culturally accurate, however i have chosen to share the story as I heard it, as i feel it captures the essence, beauty, value and purpose of child free women.