I wasn't just any uncle. I was the Fun Uncle. I was the Silly Uncle. I was the Crazy Uncle. I was the Favorite Uncle. (At least, for some of my nieces and nephews.)
The great thing about being an uncle is that it is all of the fun with none of the responsibilities. I could be the uncle who bought them the best Christmas presents. I could be the uncle who would roll around on the floor with them, acting as a human jungle gym. I could be the uncle who played Hot Wheels with them, or helped them get that dress on their Barbie.
|Here's "Uncle Joe" being a jungle gym.|
But, when the kids started misbehaving and getting a little wild, I could be the uncle who went home. When they pooped their pants and needed their diaper changed, I could be the uncle who passed them off to Mom or Dad. When they started crying uncontrollably, I could be the uncle who said, "Here, you deal with this."
Things changed when I became a dad.
When you're a dad you can't "go home" every time things get a little tough with the kids. You can't say, "Here, you deal with this," to anyone, because you are the one who is going to have to deal with it.
An uncle can sleep soundly at night. When you are a dad, you might never get a good night's sleep again for the rest of your life. If the baby cries in the middle of the night, you have to get up with her. If the seven year old wakes up screaming in the middle of the night because of a bad dream about spiders, you have to get up with her. If your sixteen year old comes in late from a date, you have to be up to make sure she makes it home.
By the time your kids are old enough that you don't have to worry about them in the night, you will be so old you'll have to get up a couple of times in the middle of every night to go to the bathroom. So, no, you might never get a good night's sleep again for the rest of your life.
There's a reason we celebrate Father's Day, but no one has ever heard of Uncle's Day.
(As I wrote that last sentence, I realized that the greeting card industry wouldn't let a good opportunity like that slip by without giving it a try. So, yes, this year on July 26 you can celebrate Aunt and Uncle Day, an "unofficial national holiday looking to be recognized in the United States." Be sure to purchase a greeting card for each and every uncle and aunt that you have!)
(And don't forget National Cousins Day on July 24th! Even those distant cousins need a card!)
Of course, even though I'm a dad now doesn't mean I'm not still an uncle. I am an uncle, and I'm glad that I am! I love all my nieces and nephews! Some of them might be too big to use me as a jungle gym anymore, but I hope I can still be the Fun, Crazy, Silly, Favorite Uncle.