The Little Sister

I'm a little sister.

I've taken my fair share of lumps, bumps, and bruises. (Well, let's see…there was an entire year that my older sister was obsessed with determining if I could break my arm in more weird and wonderful ways [falling from the monkey bars, having it run over by a Barbie Power Wheels…]) etc.

And while I would love to expound on all the divisive ways my older sister chose to torture me, I have to say that I have never, ever been so tortured as when I had to see her in pain.

I have a frequent flyers number for my hospital stays; I'm extremely familiar with IVs, blood tubes, and tourniquets.

But it is very rare that I am at the hospital with someone who isn't me.

Enter my sister's routine leg surgery to repair her ACL. All the sudden, she's this little person in a huge hospital bed with a hair net on, crying about how scared and overwhelmed she is.

I can honestly say that I've never felt more helpless. (Even when I was laying prostrate on the grass, waiting for that Barbie Power Wheels to run over my arm.) I couldn't do anything to help her pain or to alleviate her fear.

And then I thought, she must worry about me like this all of the time. And because I am the little sister, as you may also confirm if you also have a sibling, it took me until just now to put myself in her shoes in that way. (Hey, we mean well, but sometimes the younger ones can be a bit self-centered.) Especially if we have a sister as awesome as I do, who is always watching out for me.

So, if you have a sibling, try to give them a hug tonight. Remind them that there is no one like them in your life, and while it hasn't always been perfect between you two, you've got nothing but love for them.

To Be a Sister

I wear a lot of different hats during the day. And before you picture me wearing a fedora on top of a top hat on top of a yamaka, let me explain.

Most people are different things to different people. A single person can be a mother, a lawyer, a colleague, a friend, a grandmother, a problem solver, a Buddhist, a member of a band, an artist, a guitarist, a lover, a wife, a daughter…you get the picture.

And sometimes, we can get really caught up in defining ourselves by what we do. I actually find myself doing that all of the time because I’m always trying to be what people need me to be. On any given day, I’m a…

…sounding board, receptionist, manager, friend, teacher, mediator, cook, commiserator, expert, researcher, advocate, optimist, realist, marketer, writer, jester, woman…

And it’s draining and exhausting all rolled into one. Because how do I know who I am after all of that? How do I know who I’m really supposed to be when I’m supposed to be all of that at once?

Well, I was thinking about that when my sister stopped by the house the other night. It had been a few weeks since I saw her, but I relaxed into the rhythm of her driving the conversation, telling us every single detail about her life, and I slipped into my part of listening to every detail (because I’m a great listener too.)

And during this time, I had a single thought: I had forgotten what it was like to be a sister. Where you know what role you play, and so does she. You just fit together. Because that’s how it’s always been and always will be. There’s no hat to put on because you’ve been wearing it all along.

In that moment, I realized how much I missed that easy assumption. I realized how much I missed being only one thing to one person. But more than that, I realized I missed being a sister.

The good news? Any time I forget what it is like to be a sister, I can just call her up, and she’ll remind me.

Probably by stealing clothes out of my closet and making me do things “because she said so.”

But secretly? I’m looking forward to it. Just don’t tell her that.

 

5 Lessons I Learned Holding Your Hand

Little sisters, am I right?

We look up to our older siblings, hoping to to be one quarter of the person they are. And what do they do? They use us as their minions to do their bidding. They tell us it won’t hurt when it does. They act like the hardest thing they’ve ever done was share anything. They tell us to get out when all we want to do is be there with them. They tell us we’re annoying when all we want to be is appreciated.

As a younger sister, I can attest that this is all true. But I can also say that there are many benefits to being a younger sister, too. So, on my older sister’s birthday, I would like to recount some of the lessons I learned by watching her live her life first. Yup, that’s right. I had a bird’s eye view of all of her failures. But we’re going to focus (mostly) on what she achieved, so that I can do right by her. After all, she did right by me.

5. Don’t Listen to Mom and Dad

-Mom and Dad certainly know best, except, well, when they don’t. They can direct you as much as possible until it has to become about what you want out of life. Although my sister took this to the extreme by listening to the advice of my parents and doing the exact opposite, she showed me that it was possible to live outside of the box that the world created for me. She showed me it was possible to accept someone’s advice without taking it. Of course, sometimes avoiding fights and going along with whatever your parents say is the safer route, and she certainly taught me that lesson, too.

4. Make Some Noise

-I thought that this was only me, but I think all younger sisters suffer from this issue a bit: we don’t like to talk for ourselves. From day 1, our older sibling is holding our hand, introducing us, telling other people what we think before we can even form words. Which inevitably turns into ordering food for us and talking on the phone for us, and basically taking over all social activities, like a personal secretary. So, when I grew up, I was left with a residual shyness. My sister? Shy isn’t in her vocabulary. She’s zany, and boisterous, and downright loud. And while most days I appreciate that I am the ying to her yang, I have to say that I admire her energy. It makes me feel like I should do more to make my presence known in this world, let alone a single room.

3. Treat Yourself 

-As a younger sister, I have often been tricked into doing something that I didn’t want to do simply because my older sister told me it was a good idea. Who was I to argue with my elders? Inevitably, this lead to me fetching her snacks or doing her chores. Now, that I am older I can see through that ruse…and use the same tactics on other people. See, now I realize that my sister was just treating herself. She was just asking for help when she needed it (and when it was convenient for her). In all honesty, we all need to ask for assistance when we need it, and we also need to treat ourselves like the queens we are. Just as long as there is some give and take along the way.

2. Monkey See, Monkey Don’t

-Okay, and now we get into the less than glamorous moments. You’re human, sis. So, I’ve seen you make your fair share of mistakes. But I want to thank you for learning from them. You not only shared your wardrobe with me but you shared your slip-ups. You told me what happened, and why I should never make the same mistake. Because of this, I started to live vicariously through you, and I could have the fun without any of the consequences. It was kind of like chewing chocolate cake and then spitting it out: all the taste and no calories. So, thank you for having less intelligence to do the things you did. But thank you for having more intelligence to turn around and tell me what was a terrible idea. And also what made a great story.

1. I Forgive You

-Yes, nothing is more sacred than those three little words when you’re a little sister. Because after all these questions: Who stole my straightener? Where’s that shirt I like? Why are my shoes in your room? It’s nice to know that you can focus on what really matters. Forgiveness. No, I will not stop stealing your stuff. No, I will not hang up your clothes after I use them. No, I will not return what I borrow. But I promise that I’ll always be there for you when you need me. That is, if you can forgive me. (And I think you should because you did some pretty messed up stuff to me when we were kids. Like, you tried to run over my arm with a power-wheel car, and you almost forced me to eat “backyard soup.” So, I think you owe me this one. Or at least this shirt.)

Of course, I know I had it easier being the little sister. But I know I had it even easier because you were and are my sister. Love you.