I am really blessed to have certain things in my life: amazing kids, a roof over my head, great friends, a job I love, semi-long eyelashes, you know the important stuff. But there is something that always stands out in my mind when people ask what I am most thankful for, and that is having a really tight relationship with my siblings. For as long as I can remember, they have been my safe place. We are thick as thieves.
As kids, we would spend hours together playing outside, making up our own games, going on adventures. We shared scary stories that happened to us during school or talked about our bad dreams after waking each other in the middle of the night. There were times I went to them with problems I never would have mentioned to my parents, and they always made me feel loved, like I could get through anything. Also, they never went to my mother and father — what we talked about in the sister circle stayed in the sister circle. It still does.
As we grew up and fumbled through our parents’ divorce, we made it to the other side, together. We understood how hard it was to divide our holidays and how uncomfortable it was when our parents started dating. It was so reassuring to have people going through it alongside of us. It helped validate our feelings.
Of course, we had our spats, and used to do things like smack each other, fight over clothes, and make fun of each other’s boyfriends, but these arguments never lasted long. We missed each other and always found life so much better when we were getting along (and making fun of other people’s boyfriends).
Now that we are adults, things have not changed much; my siblings are my people, my safe space. And because I feel like this is such a gift and truly don’t know where I would be without them, I want my kids to have the same experience. It would be so wonderful for them, yes, but selfishly, it would be the best gift they could ever give me. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than to see the people I created love and know without a doubt that they have each other’s backs, always.
My mother has said many times how glad she is that we have a relationship with each other. Her feelings don’t even get hurt if we all go out to dinner or lunch together and don’t invite her. She knows we need sister time and is genuinely happy we take the time to nurture our sibling relationship despite our busy schedules.
Choosing to spend time with each other despite our hectic lives is something we do often. We know it makes us better women, better mothers, better wives, and better friends. Seeing my sisters and being a part of their life is not an option. It’s a necessity.
My two youngest kids are so close, not only in age, but they also love each other to bits. For over 10 years, I have watched them have a relationship with each other that makes me feel like Mary Poppins, even though I really didn’t orchestrate their bond. Their love is unconditional, and I am pretty positive it is going to be that way for the rest of their life. It makes my heart soar.
However, my oldest son doesn’t have a tight bond with either of his siblings. They adore him, they look up to him, they would do anything for him, but he simply tolerates them. It kills me.
I hope as he gets older he will try harder to forge a deeper connection with his brother and sister. I can’t help but feel like he is missing out on something wonderful. Maybe it will happen organically, or maybe it won’t, but it would break my heart a little if he never gets to experience what they do, or what I do.
I realize that he’s his own person, and I can’t force relationships onto him. But I do know that no one can relate to your life, your childhood, your formative years like your siblings can. I am so aware my kids are going to have times when they are going to need to vent about me. I am sure I am screwing them up in more ways than I know, and it would be nice for them to have each other to count the many ways their mother wronged them and be met with understanding and support.
Maybe every once in a while, one of them will stick up for me and help their brother or sister see things in a different light. I won’t hold my breath, but a mother can dream.
There is going to come a time when their father and I aren’t going to be around; they are going to be the only people left in our tight-knit clan. It makes it so much easier to think about this knowing they have built a strong foundation and continue to invest in their relationship. They are going to need each other.
Siblings will always be connected, whether they like that arrangement or not. It won’t matter how old they get, what life throws at them, or how long they go without seeing each other, they will always hold a little piece of each other’s childhood, and I so want all my kids to experience that magic.