© Courtesy Shannon Styles
Older sisters who are reading this, take note: Your little sisters loved you. We watched you get ready, hang out with your friends, apply lipstick, learn to drive, and gossip on the phone. We paid attention to the music you liked, prom dresses you circled in Seventeen magazine, the new diet you were trying out, the Buns of Steel VHS tapes you bought, what boy you were kissing downstairs while you were supposed to be babysitting us, and we all, hands down, thought you were the most beautiful girl to ever walk the earth. And we heard this, too. We heard the compliments and comments from our parents’ friends: “She’s so beautiful!” “Honor roll again?” “You must be so proud!” All of this while us little sisters were a few steps behind. Some of us were in our awkward middle school phase. Scrawny, long-limbed, bony-kneed, adorned with a mouth full of metal braces. Some of us were in high school hearing from our teachers, “Oh, you’re X’s sister? Well! Welcome!” Some of us were in elementary school just waiting to get cool enough to be like you.
And we little sisters, we tried. We tried to be like our olders. But it never really worked out quite right, because we weren’t you. We didn’t have your brains, or your style, or whatever the heck it was that made you, you. So we littles, we did what we had to do to be us. And most of us paved our way out of the shadow that, in our heads, you cast on us. You didn’t, olders. We just thought you did because in our minds you were larger than life. Some of us littles, we became creative and artsy. Some of us became athletes. Most of us became a little more carefree and outgoing and laid-back.
And while you olders were becoming adults and getting married and having babies, we littles were getting a little nuts. We were finishing up high school or in college, or 22 and being what you perceived as irresponsible, and young, and carefree. We were at the beach when you were at work. We were getting home at 3 a.m. when you were changing diapers at 3 a.m. We were rolling up to family parties on a Sunday afternoon with a Tylenol in hand from the night before. We were being what you were just a few years before, but what seemed like an entire lifetime ago to you. And we made really awesome aunts. We took your kids on zoo trips and to the movies, threw slumber parties, and showered them with gifts. We were fun and energetic and excited about these new little creatures in our lives. We loved our new nieces and nephews, and we loved handing them back to you at the end of the day.
© Courtesy Shannon Styles
And then we entered adulthood too. We found jobs. We got engaged. We had weddings and babies and bought houses. And we turned to you every step of the way. You were our sounding boards. You had been through all of this already, so you were the experts. And you made awesome aunts. You actually knew what you were doing, so when we needed to shower and hadn’t slept in five weeks, you came over and let us shower. You held our babies like pros, knew how to swaddle, and bounced and cooed like a natural. You cooked us dinners while holding our babies and mopping the floor as we watched in awe. We messed up, and you cleaned up our messes, because that’s what you’ve always done for us.
All of our lives, as we were busy admiring you, you were busy loving us. You were busy rooting for us, hoping we’d be a little different from you, celebrating our successes, consoling us in our disappointments, secretly bragging about your little sisters to your friends. You always believed in us and waited for us (sometimes impatiently) to figure life out. And now, we have, but we couldn’t have done it without our sisters.
From the little sisters everywhere, the carefree ones, the outgoing funny girls, the weirdos, the artsy laid-back ladies of your life: We love you, big sisters. Thank you for paving the way for us.