What a title.
For me it’s misleading as I don’t actually have one, sadly she passed before I met her and I often hope she sees us somehow and how incredible her son is.
In her place we have a ‘big auntie’ and she has a special name in Thai and I have no idea who she really is or how she’s related to my husband as here in Thailand everyone seems to have a hundred cousins and rather a lot of aunties. Now myself I actually have A LOT of real aunties, these are actual siblings from my mother as my little Irish grandmother had 14 children, yes 14. How in God’s name that woman managed that? In a titchy, tiny stone house she must’ve been pregnant or nursing CONSTANTLY. Maybe that’s where I get my fierce determination from.
I have tried to count how many aunties, uncles and cousins I have and it gets silly, I’m sure walking around Galway in Ireland I probably would walk past a few and never know.
Back to Thailand, it would also seem that everyone is a cousin, aunt, uncle and then sometimes a brother or sister and that’s really confusing. So I pay respect to this aunt as if it was his mum. She runs a temple gift shop, you know the ones with tonnes of yellow cellophane and gift baskets for the monks. This year when we had the blessing of our daughter at Wat Buddhapadipa in London, my mum couldn’t get over the gift baskets with washing up liquid and toothpaste in them and in her usual say whatever comes into her head moment said “oooooh I’d quite like one of those” really loudly of course!
Apparently business in the temple gift basket shop is slow, it seems to have at some point been a wedding dress shop too as the second floor is full of huge, frilly white meringue dresses. We visit the village and sit on the steps of the shop with her shooting the breeze, watching the motorbikes and cars whizz by as I try not to look at the pigs head on the butchers table next door. She fusses over my little one calling her beautiful person and then the moment I dread when visiting family here.
The outstretched arms and an expectation that my little lady will gladly accept to be held, pinched and whisked away from me. Every time! It drives me nuts, I am trying to work out if they want me to rest or they just want a cuddle but it always feel forceful. I have the opinion that children can be like fussy cats, you need to sit and be nice, let them approach you not just stick your face in theirs and bother them, then grab them. I’m sure they must think I’m over protective, really not sure, to be honest at this point I’m sure they have many thoughts on my parenting style. As I let her eat large chucks of cucumber and eat with her hands (shocking) But I can’t deal with her crying and not helping, I will always comfort her and not just stare in her face and say no crying, there’s a reason why she is crying you crazy third aunt removed.
Then comes the advice and I know this is a shared experience in every country to every single mother that has ever been, the unwanted advice. Recently coming from the big aunt, to flick, yes flick my daughters tongue as she sometimes sticks it out, usually when concentrating (just as my mum does) When we returned to the car I asked my husband what he thought and then ignored him mid sentence as I told him if you flick her tongue, I will start flicking really sensitive parts of you. That was met with a chuckle. Luckily he doesn’t listen to all the advice we get.
I find visits to the husband’s family hard as I’m sure many mums do. I can’t understand a lot of what is said, but sadly I do understand when they comment about how fat I am. My daughter always seems to cry and I am adamant that I want her to have a choice about which family members she cuddles, I hated being told as a child to kiss uncle so and so good bye when he was creepy, he probably wasn’t creepy but children are super sensitive. There is this tricky cultural line too, I want to respect, but my baby’s welfare is my priority so for now I am holding on to her tight and I tell her it’s ok if she’s doesn’t want to go to those outstretched arms that reach out so damn frequently here!