When my sister and her husband came over to my house one winter evening to announce they were expecting, I was elated. Sure, I was excited to meet their new bundle, and I was happy for my little sister—it was something she wanted so much. But you want to know what thrilled me the most? I had a 7-month-old and a 2-year-old, and it was happening: They were going to get to grow up with their cousins—something I never had.
That was over nine years ago, and here we are, seven kids between me and my two sisters. Experiencing this with them has brought so much happiness to all of us. There are certain things growing up with cousins gives you, things like:
1. I Am Closer With My Sisters
Not only do we get together like a big school of fish and watch our little ones run around and play, we talk about giving birth, nursing, diapers, tantrums. I can always count on my sisters to be honest with me if I need their opinion; they are not just going to say what they think I want to hear. But we also need each other in a different way. We are each other’s escape and are able to tell each other when we need to get out of the house. We meet and talk while eating too much and not drinking enough until we can’t wait to get back to our precious little nuggets.
My kids can experience the joy of a sleepover, and I know they are in a safe place. I don’t have to worry or text a zillion times to make sure all is well. My sisters know I need that reassurance, so they send pictures and snippets of how the night is going. They are also comfortable saying, “OK, time to come pick up your kid!”
3. The Unbreakable Bond
Because they don’t remember life without each other, there is such a strong bond. They are more than friends—their ties will always run deep. They like each other better than their siblings because they don’t have the opportunity to get on each other’s nerves half as much. My daughter does not have a sister, but she has a cousin who is her best friend. They have already agreed to be each other’s maid of honor, have formed a secret language, and borrow each other’s clothes. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
4. They Are Never Alone
Believe me when I say, if you mess with one cousin, you mess with them all—especially if someone picks on the little one. It’s a mistake I am sure no child will make twice.
5. They Will Always Relate to Each Other
As they get older, they will surely find out about dysfunction. We all have some form if it in our families. They will be able to know exactly what the other one is talking about when they say, “Why the hell did Aunt Katie lose her shit again? She needs to pull it together.” They will always have a safe place to vent and someone who can relate.
I don’t want to rush things and am not wishing the time away, but I am looking forward to hearing their adult selves talk about what growing up together has meant to them. I am pretty sure the answer to that is everything.