My kids have four uncles. Three of them are loud, hairy and Greek. The other is a tad more normal, but not much. In their thirties and forties, they’re all still bachelors.

These uncles adore my kids. But, sometimes they may not be the best influences.

– They swear: F-bombs and all, the uncles tend to forget there are children around.

-Their alpha-male attitudes: Telling my son that he “shouldn’t cry” or has to “be tough” have not been my favorite lessons.

-Their spoiling: Christmas and birthdays are a toy-overload. Whoever made up the saying “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” must not have had four uncles who buy enormous Lego sets and Disney princess dolls.

-Constant junk food: This one took me awhile to accept. But, if the uncles are around then Cheetos, Oreos, and ice cream are just part of the gig.

-Their incessant rough housing: My son knew what a wedgie was by age two. At five now, he can perform them back to his rambunctious uncles.

-They only know one decibel: LOUD. This is not pleasant at nap time.

My brothers and brother-in-law are indeed insane. They drive me crazy. But the love they show my kids is undeniable. When they come home for any holiday, all they want to do is get down on the floor, despite their beer-breath hangovers, and play with my kids. You can see the new life my kids bring to them. My brothers’ eyes become like a child’s – beaming wide with joy and wonder.

When my kids were newborns, my brothers flew in from out-of-state to meet the new little bundles. Watching a bachelor try to cradle a newborn baby is like watching a pre-teen at a dance – it’s awkward and hilarious. But, the babies’ thighs grew rolls. They eventually laughed and babbled their uncles’ names. That’s when a love like no other came to fruition. As the kids developed, so did their uncles’ devotion to them.

They also do cool stuff with the kids, stuff that I never would. They teach them tricks to playing memory. They whip them around the house on a blanket and take them trick-or-treating in a Michigan blizzard. They play airplane and airplane crash-landing onto the bed. Surprisingly, there have been no ER visits yet. They play endless soccer games and teach them about the humility of losing – yup, they don’t always let them win just because they’re kids.

They read them stories and tuck them in. When my brothers are around, the kids prefer them. It’s no longer, “Mommy, Mommy,” but “Uncle Tommy, Nick, Deno, or Brian,” instead. I actually get a break.

My oldest brother just left to go back down south. Soccer season is about to start, which means that as a coach, we won’t see him again until Christmas. It’s hard to see him go. This tough alpha-male gets tears in his eyes every single time he’s about to leave. It’s not because he has to leave his home state of Michigan, but because he hates missing my kids. You can tell that he, and the other uncles, don’t want to miss them grow up. And they’re not.

Because when they’re home, it’s nothing shy of magic for my kids. They love their insanity and each time they come home, they’re adding another building block onto the big tower of memories. Yes, I have to re-train them that they can’t eat ice cream every single day. But despite their bad influences and the fact that they inch me closer to that insane asylum, it’s more than worth it.

Angela Anagnost-Repke

Angela-Anagnost Repke is a writer and writing instructor dedicated to raising two empathetic children. She hopes that her graduate degrees in English and counseling help her do just that. Since the pandemic, Angela and her family have been rejuvenated by nature and moved to northern Michigan to allow the waves of Lake Michigan to calm their spirits. She has been published in Good Housekeeping, Good Morning America, ABC News, Parents, Romper, and many more. She is currently at-work on her nonfiction parenting book, Wild Things by Nature: How an Unscientific Parent Can Give Nature to Their Wild Things. Follow Angela on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram