* Column of the Week:
â€œMom, sheâ€™s touching me!â€
Itâ€™s only 8 in the morning and already this familiar battle cry is hitting my ears with the piercing force that only a shrill 4 year old can project. My eldest daughter Kinley is beginning the daily cycle of being an older sister. This finely tuned dance is something that only recently started, and to which Iâ€™d so foolishly thought weâ€™d actually avoided. â€œLook at what a good big sister Kinley isâ€, Iâ€™d say loudly to any family member in ear shot (just barely resisting the urge to nudge her with my elbow and wink). But despite all of the hints and not-so-subtle praise, something happened that I could never prevent nor delayâ€¦ my two girls realized that they were sisters.
Being sisters requires a fine art of passive aggressive actions and aggressively passive jabs, to which neither party is ever exactly to blame. In one moment of the day my eldest can be â€œhelpingâ€ her little sister (which usually involves shoving her off the nearest step or dragging her by the most readily available appendage), and in another the baby will be smiling coyly from the corner after her sisterâ€™s favorite blanket has mysteriously gone missing. Whether theyâ€™re touching one another, looking like they might be thinking about touching one another or just looking at each other at allâ€¦all are equal offenses in the eyes of a sister.
The good news is that this unstoppable, incurable and unbearable routine will not last forever. Since I grew up with two sisters of my own, I know how tricky this relationship can truly be. As a child, finding ways to connect with both of my female siblings involved an ongoing intense identity crisis at every time of day. Some days Iâ€™d be trying to dye my hair blue and wearing Pearl Jam plaid like it was going out of style (as ifthat would ever happen) to connect with my middle sister Corey. Although she looks back on her high school years with treturous memories of mean girls, awkward moments and Honor Roll status, I viewed her as the most beautifully rebellious, dark and interesting person on earth. To me, her habit of shaving my Barbie Dollâ€™s heads in favor of Marilyn Manson face paint, or playing around with makeup to recreate death scenes from her favorite novels was not only psychologically disturbing (she probably should be paying for my therapy), but deliciously exciting.
Meanwhile, my eldest sister Lisa was already busy changing the world as an accomplished nurse, burgeoning mother and doting wife. Though we were years apart, I vicariously played out all of her mature decisions in my room with a small army of Cabbage Patch dolls (most of whom were amputees at this point, thanks to Lisaâ€™s nightly medical gig).
It took me awhile to finally find my own voice as a teenager, and realize that even if I wasnâ€™t as unique, strong and intelligent as my eldest sisters seemed to be… I needed to forge my own path. And even though I may not be as sparkly as Corey on any given day (both metaphorically and literally due to her pension for sequins), or as selflessly giving as Lisa (just the thought of midnight mass makes me want to yawn), the best parts of me still come from them.
How would I have ever learned to stand up for what I believe in, if I hadnâ€™t had Corey to scare the bullies away at school while I hid under the nearest picnic table? How would I know that placing my children first is the greatest joy of all, if I hadnâ€™t seen Lisa struggle, sacrifice and cherish her kids every step of the way?Â Despite all of our differences, I could never imagine a day without my big sisters. And thanks to my two older brothers, I was lucky enough to inherit two more sisters as well (Irene and Leah). So even though one of them might be recovering right now from a brave fight, and the other is watching the love of her life go off to fight bravelyâ€¦. I am privileged to live, learn and love with both of them as well.
Being a sister isnâ€™t about being the same, seeing eye to eye or experiencing life in a parallel fashion. But when times get tough, we stand up for one another. When the going gets rough, we would give anything to help. And even when all we can do is show up with a pint of ice cream, a good book and a Meg Ryan movie (preferably French Kiss), thatâ€™s more than enough.
Nothing has reminded me more of the importance of sisterhood, than being a mother to my two girls. Every day that they fight, squirm and scream in one anotherâ€™s direction, I can see the teary phone calls for support, Maid of Honor speeches and botched dye jobs in their future.
And if they can learn to give, listen and share with even a fragment of the love that my sisters have done with me?
Iâ€™ll be the happiest mom in the world.
*Â Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She hosts Makeover Momma TV on Tuesday (7 PM/EST & 4 PM/PT), and writes this column whenever she has time (i.e. never!)
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