As a young child, everyone had one but me. My grandmother is one of four girls. My mother’s only sibling is her older sister. The sibling my dad is closest to of the seven he has is the sister who is closest to him in age.
Recently I tried to define “sister.” My very best friend is the youngest of three girls, who are so remarkably similar, yet unique at the same time. There is no one in the world that my boyfriend simultaneously loves and loathes more than his 16 year old sister. If there were a such thing as an official “Sister of the Year” award, my friend Sarah would have won it every year for the last two decades as she gets up every day and fights relentlessly for her older sister, Alissa, who has been missing for 19 years.
At age four, I was an only child. I had no greater wish than to have a sibling, but specifically a sister. 15 years later, I have been abundantly blessed in that department. I now have five siblings. There are many people in my life who consider me to be like a sister to them, and in turn, I have friends and family, both young and old, who are like sisters to me. I love a lot of people. Everyone is family to me. But in actuality, four of my five siblings are boys, leaving me with my one and only sister: Julie.
There was no prouder day of my life than April 2, 2008, when my sister was born. Today, she turns 12.
I spent the months leading up to her birth preparing. I read books about being a big sister. I coddled baby dolls and decided ahead of time which stories I would read to her. But nothing could have ever truly prepared me.
I always wanted to hold her. I made flash cards to try to teach her the colors before she could crawl. She became my favorite person to shop for.
But as sisters do, she annoyed me. I was definitely mean to her more than a few times. As she got older, there were many a day when I did not want to play with her. As I entered my ‘tween” years, I would throw fits when my grandmother would buy us matching clothes because I wanted to be different. I would lock her out of my room. Looking back, I believe this to have been a few years of pent up jealousy from no longer being my mother’s only child. I did not want her to be the favorite child. I did not want her to be better than me.
But now, as an adult, now that my wish for a sister has been granted, my biggest wish is this:
My darling baby sister, PLEASE be better than me.
As you turn 12, I can’t help but remember that all of my teenage turmoil started around this age. It was the beginning of emo phases and thinking relationships with boys were serious. It was never knowing how much of an adult you are allowed to act like or which milestone should come when. I made it out okay, but I would never want to go back. It is hard. I do not discredit these years whatsoever. They will be some of the first times you will get a taste of the issues you will continue to face as an older teenager and adult. First times are scary. Feelings are messy.
I wish more than anything that I could do it for you and that you could learn from my mistakes. I wish you could look into a crystal ball and see that everything turns out okay, but it is going to look cloudy here for a little bit. You have to make your own mistakes. You have to learn. The things and people you fall in love with at this age will shape you into the woman you will become and I cannot wait to meet her.
You are already leagues above where I was at your age. You are kinder and bolder and braver than I am, even now, and I could not be more proud. Wherever you are is an okay place to be. Despite our age difference, you are one of my very best friends and I love you more than anything. And by the way, last month when you bought a pair of shoes identical to mine, I was thrilled.