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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

They Call Me Tia

With brothers and a sister who are a lot older than me, I became an aunt at a very young age. I was actually born one. Only two of the four born before me actually call me aunty. The other two call me by my name, but that’s because we were raised like brothers and sister due to some unfortunate events in our lives. Their mom is the sister I talk about in one of my earlier blogs (My Sister’s Killer).

Although I have a lot of nieces and nephews, I have never really been an aunt when I compare myself to what my aunts were like. When I was six, my niece and nephew, Omani and Stephan, were born, three months apart. They were the children of my mom’s two sons, each one had their own. Omani and Stephan were like little siblings for me. I was the youngest, but with them around, it never really felt like that. Even as we grew older, the six year age difference never allowed me to really be an aunt. They call me Tia, because my mom wanted them too, but again, it has been a name.

Whenever we all go on vacations—my parents, me, my brothers, and their families—my mom is always left with the kids when the adults go out. I always stayed with my mom too because I, myself, was still a kid. I shared my mom with them and helped her whenever she needed me to. During these vacations, my brothers pretty much forgot they had children. My mom was, and still is for that matter, in charge of the kids. She always carried food, clothes, and games for them. She took care of everything.

I could tell when she would become overwhelmed with them too. I would look at my brothers to see if they were going to step in and they never did. So I had to. Every time. And even though I say I feel like the older sister to Omani and Stephan, I often times feel like the mom too. I can tell when my mom is frustrated so I grab the kids and tell them to get ready. I help them with whatever I can and it relieves my mom of some of her stress. There were times where I would drop them off and pick them up from school. I took Stephan to a couple doctor’s appointments because my brother was at work. He thought my mom would do it, but she works too so I had to do it. In some respects I am doing what a Tia does, but it doesn’t always feel like it.

Two years ago, Stephan got a little sister, my niece Simaerah, and I finally get to be a Tia. I can babysit her whenever my brother and his wife go out and I can take her places to show her a good time. She loves to dance and always asks for me to put on music so we can play around the room. Being that I am older, I get to watch her grow and develop and can’t believe how quickly it’s happening. She is a mess and never fails to make me laugh when we spend time together. Sometimes I am left watching her, Stephan, and Omani when all of our parents go out together. With the age difference between my brothers and I, going out with them is not always my kind of fun so I choose to babysit. Our nights are filled with laughs and each of the kids enjoy each other. The older ones help me with diapers and bottles and once Simaerah falls asleep we fight back laughs so that we don’t wake her. It is really hard though. In those moments, I really do feel like the Tia I am.

Without my nieces and nephews, my life would be boring. And whether they feel like older brothers or younger siblings, or whether or not the word just feels like a title, I am what I am and that is Tia.

~Michelle Mitchell


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