“I wish I didn’t have a sister! I wish she was never born!” my oldest yelled at the top of her lungs as her little sister snatched up the toy she was wanting to play with.
Being a little over two years apart my daughters are best friends and fierce enemies. They both love horses, gymnastics, and like to draw and sing. They even like the same shows, just usually not at the same time. They ask to sleep together, have to sit by each other while they eat and will not take a bath without the other. But they are sisters, so they fight as much as they play.
My nearly 4 year old wants to do everything her big sister does. She doesn’t understand that she is too little to do some of the things my oldest does and my oldest doesn’t think it is fair when my youngest gets to try things she had to wait longer for. My oldest believes her little sister is a copycat even though she oftentimes copies her little sister as well. She doesn’t see it as a form of flattery that her baby sister wants to be like her; instead it just gets on her nerves and causes fights.
Since beginning school they have their own friends although they also share quite a few. Their interests are starting to branch out from one another and I know this is a new beginning in their relationship. They will begin to have their own hobbies, their own lives and will either continue to be close or will start to drift apart. I desperately want to them to remain close and be there to cheer each other on or lift each other up. I want to instill in them that no one will be there for them like their sister, but am not sure how.
Being the little sister myself I can remember my siblings getting irritated with me; I pushed their buttons like all annoying little sisters do. At some point I am sure they wished I wasn’t born; when I used their makeup without asking, tattled on them to our parents and just plain irritated the crap out of them.
I am the youngest of 4, my oldest sister is 13 years older than me, she moved out when I was 8. She was more of a cool aunt than a sister when we were growing up. She was the one I retreated to when I needed a break from home; she would take me for the weekend and treat me like an adult – we would have the best time and I would get the one on one attention I so craved.
My other sister is 6 years older than me. She was too cool to play with me, she was into boys and music and other things I could have cared less about. I stuck with my big brother and roamed the woods, played outside, and became a tomboy. As we grew up we all grew apart each with our own interests and our own lives.
When I started college I joined a sorority. All the talk of sisters and sisterhood made me realize that I never had that bond with my one sister and I had grown apart from my oldest.
I reached out to my sisters and we started hanging out, going to lunch together, dinners, and then weekend trips. I started getting my oldest sisters daughters for weekends. I saw the bond they had at only 6 and 8 years old, they looked out for each other, to each other, and were not just sisters but best friends. I knew this is what I wanted with my own sisters and for my future children.
At 21 years old I finally had the relationship and bond that only sisters can have. This unbreakable bond keeps us close no matter the distance, has us be there for each other no matter the situation.
In the past 15 years we all have gone through both good and bad times. My sisters were bridesmaids in my wedding, were there holding my hand (and literally my foot) when I gave birth to each of my daughters. We are always there for each other, offering nothing other than unconditional love and support. We never judge, we never question; instead we show up – a welcome distraction in the current storm.
A year and a half ago, at 34 years old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My daughters were only 2 and 4. I never once had to ask for help, my sisters called and told me they were coming to take care of the girls so my husband and I could focus on my treatment plan. I had a mastectomy and my sisters had the girls for a little over a week, alternating homes and distracting my daughters from the seriousness of the situation. They checked in on my daily, came by to see me and to cheer me up.
When it was time for chemo my sisters nearly fought each other over who would come and do my treatments with me. Many of whom I thought were friends were pulling away from me as if cancer was contagious; my sisters made me feel like a rock star, that the best seat was the one beside me.
My oldest sister came to my treatment with a bag of yarn and crochet needle after I had mentioned to her I wanted to learn how to crochet. We crocheted for maybe 20 minutes and spent the rest of the 4 hours chatting and laughing.
My next treatment my other sister came and we also talked and laughed the time away. Nurses and patients were saying it sounded like a party in my room; we were having so much fun. For my last treatment my entire family came and watched me ring the bell, symbolizing the end of chemo.
As I healed and got stronger my sisters and I continued to get together, even though at times our lives were so busy. More surgeries followed and the first ones to ask what they could do to help were my sisters. They again got my daughters, came to hang out, laugh, and talk about everything under the sun. My nieces, now 19 and 21, also jumped in to help care for my girls, playing with my daughters as I did them.
I am able to see that my nieces continue to best friends, still hang out and have fun together. Their relationship has continued to remain what I want for my girls. I have watched them grow up together and their bond endure throughout high school, friends, boyfriends, and now college.
As I hear my oldest say she wishes she didn’t have a sister I wonder how to explain to my daughters, now 3 and 6, the importance of being friends. They don’t understand that one day they will rely on each other as much as they rely on me now. They will be together for every holiday, for weddings, births, birthdays, graduations, and funerals. Their bond began in diapers and my hope is it will last their entire lives and they will not have to reconnect as my sisters and I did. I want them to be inseparable like my nieces, to come to each other before anyone else to celebrate the good and to be lifted from the bad.
I say to my daughter as she yells at her sister who stands with a quivering lip “You don’t mean that. How would you feel if she said that to you?”
“It would hurt my feelings.”
And without my prompting her she walks over to hug her sister. “I am sorry, Chloe. I love you. I am glad you are my sister.”
With that act I realize that I don’t need to explain, through the example of my nieces and my sisters and I we are teaching my daughters they have an unbreakable bond and they are and always will be better together.