Best job title I've ever had: Aunt

I've held many different jobs throughout my life, but none I enjoy so much as being an aunt. I don't get paid a monetary salary, but I don't care, because the benefits are fantastic: sweet hugs, cherubic smiles and a ton of laughs. We follow the age-old contract: My siblings generously share their offspring with me and in return, I unabashedly adore their kids. It's a good deal for me. Currently, I have nine nephews and nine nieces, ranging in age from 13 to six months.

An aunt doesn't have to be the enforcer or the disciplinarian (at least most of the time). I can just bask in the glow of sweet baby smiles and gap-toothed grins. I don't have to make sure vegetables get eaten or beds get made. I share ice-cream cones and sleep on couches and sleeping bags.

When the kids spend time with me, we make crafts and watch movies. If they spend the night, I don't make them brush their teeth. I have an area in my house devoted to the nieces and nephews and toy boxes filled with old telephones, outdated purses and plastic play food.

Oh, I've had my share of mishaps. One nephew fed a long string of green mardi-gras beads down my tub drain. I've gotten peed on more times than I can count and I recall a particularly odious prune juice burp on my favorite cashmere sweater. Once, one niece took it upon herself to color the window trim. But in the grand scheme of things, it's a small price to pay.

One of my nieces had a conversation with my sister about what she was going to do when she grew up.
"I'm going to be like Aunt Jill," she said. 
"Where are you going to live?" her mother asked her.
"Oh, with you and Dad," she said.
"You do realize that Aunt Jill doesn't live with Papa and Grandma Leener, right?" was my sister's sardonic response. When my sister relayed this information to me, I laughed.

In all seriousness, it's one of the best compliments I've ever received.