A wave of frustration rushed over her face as she fought to keep up as the two of them raced across the playground. A victory celebration erupted from her opponent two steps before she reached the finish line. Her hands rested on her hips as she glanced at the ground in defeat. He’s got two years, several inches and endless laps around the monkey bars on her, yet she is determined to match him step for step. Her strong will sets in as he yells out the next challenge and takes off running before even saying go. There is no cry out for a do over, she simply races after him doing her best catch up.
Day after day I merely stand by watching her come in second place. Little sisters always come in second place. My heart doesn’t ache for her nor am I concerned about the unfair advantage. I don’t offer words of justification or demand her brother to let her win just once. I simply stand by watching… because I owe it to her.
With every bump, bruise, slip and misstep she becomes a stronger woman. Physically and emotionally preparing for the challenges of a world with no level playing field. No easy way or shortcut. No free pass because she is smaller, younger or because she is a female.
She will spend these formative years failing and having to pick herself up, simply because she has to.
When the constant struggle finally takes a toll, she looks to my shoulder for comfort. I don't feel empathy for her. Instead my heart swell as I whisper, “don’t give up! Keep trying and you will eventually get there. You are so much stronger and faster than he was at your age, love. You can do it…Just Keep Trying.”
I know, because I was that little sister…
The one that spent the vast majority of a childhood tirelessly competing against an unfair advantage. Forced to constantly pick myself up and try again even though the outcome was always the same. I found a desire to reach above my ability because I was pushed to do more. Each time I fell, I learned to get up quicker. Determined to try harder even when I knew what I was up against.
She will be successful because little sisters make fearless women, unafraid of failure and undeterred by defeat. Ignited by a challenge, these are the women that truly reach for the stars because they are willing to fall, brush themselves off and try harder. The sky is truly the limit little sister, even if you need a step stool.