... in being an aunt
I remember my mother saying to me when I was about ten that it was her favourite age of children, because you could talk to them. Of course she loved her children at whatever age, but I've had a similar conversation with friends who find the baby phase is cute but rather boring, and look forward to the children being old enough to talk, to being able to read with them, and the rest.
I don't have children of my own but I have been an aunt since I was a teenager... so now, just as my friends are having babies, my nieces are almost grown up. The best thing about being an aunt, as they say, is the fun without the responsibility. No sleepless nights, but you get to go on outings, watch cartoons, and when they were younger it was a great excuse to go to toyshops. Now it isn't quite the same!
When it comes to parenting I've heard that you shouldn't 'be friends' with your children and that is doubtless true, but I think when they get to a certain age there is something in common between friendship and the parent-child relationship – in adulthood I certainly considered my mother to be a friend too, and now I'm finding that not only have my nieces developed distinct personalities, tastes and interests, but I can also enjoy their wit, emotional intelligence, wisdom, and even cynicism. These are some of the traits that define an adult as opposed to a child, and its a delight to see them develop. There's still an awareness that they have much less life experience and may need some guidance along their path in life, but how wonderful to see them find their own way too.
I take absolutely no credit for influencing their maturity at all, that goes to their parents. But I can marvel at the results, and thank God that although it has not been easy for them, they've arrived at adulthood mostly unscathed and capable of making their own way in the world. My prayers along the way may have helped a little.