Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Sister

It's true, I am.

In my family, it was just me and my sister. We grew up in an area where there seemed to be many large families and I was always a little jealous of the seemingly endless relationships between various siblings in a family. With us it was...well, it was just us. We were great friends though, when we were young. Only 17 months apart, our mom raised us almost like twins it seems. We were often dressed alike when we were very small and our toys tended to come in twos. We shared a best friend in our neighbor across the street for many years...and our second best friends were two sister up the street who were just our ages. From the time I was a toddler until our teen years, my sister was truly my best friend.

We had a bit of a rough patch during our teens. Well, let's face it, those are rough years. Suddenly, every difference between us was pretty harshly emphasized. I was the good (boring?) sister. I loved school, had nice, devoted friends, participated in various wholesome activities, dated a bit...quite chastely, really. She was the bad (intriguing?) sister. She started ditching as soon as she entered high school, she hung around with the lowlifes in the neighborhood, drank and drugged, and was much more experienced with the boys much sooner than I. We didn't really fight or was more like we were living on two completely separate planets. It was during this phase that our parents divorced. Our home life was a bit sketchy. I think my mom, who is wonderful, was overwhelmed and sort of let us just go. I responded by making the most of time out of the house doing my activities and being with friends....and my sister did whatever she pleased.

The years went by. We both grew up in our own ways. I met WTG and started a family. During those years my sister and I still were not terribly close, as I was pretty caught up in my life as a young wife and mother. She had calmed down a lot, but was still living a very different life than me. I think what changed everything for us again was when she married and had her only child. I already had three when he came along and my sister seemed drawn to my supposed experience with kids. It felt like we were on the same page again. We even had some of the same friends again, other women with young children. And over the years as our kids have grown up, we've remained close. Our husbands drank together. I divorced mine...hers took the hard way out on a motorcycle and a gravely, slippery road. We were there for each other and our lives went on. And so it goes.

Sometimes I look at my sister and I can imagine that she is a stranger to me. Someone unknown. Other times, I look at her and see the little girl looking at me to see what we were going to do next. I do think there is probably a different sort of intensity between siblings who are close in age and have only one another. I also think some things about that dynamic helped me to decide to have a larger family with all these premutations of attention and affection. Maybe it was part of what led her to have an only. Parents are presumably our biggest influence, but isn't there just something about the people we actually grow up with? It is like our siblings are us, but not.


Mrs. Hairy Woman said...

I had always wanted a sister when I was growing up.. I have two brothers that are close in age but they are not close.. I'm not sure if they were ever friends.. Its sad really when siblings go along their own path and not share their life with you.. Excellent post..

Tara said...

I used to be pretty close with my youngest brother. Although he was ten years older than I was, we'd play tennis, go sled riding with the family dog...Lots of stuff. Then he moved out of state for college, eventually married and had kids and our relationship changed so I'm not as close to him. I'm actually closer to another one of my brothers who doesn't have kids. We had a blast the last time he and his wife flew in.

Tara said...

Oh and how are you and your sister now? Do you still keep in touch?

Churlita said...

Nice post. My siblings drive me crazy, but I'm so glad I have them. We were orphaned at a young age and our legal guardians were abusive, so we really needed each other. I'm glad my girls are close too. Are your kids close?

laura b. said...

Mrs: I always wished for a brother. Sometimes I guess even siblings are so different right from the start that they just don't hit it off. It's a complicated relationship.

Tara: Yeah, it does seem like things definitely change over the years as people reach different stages or something.
My sister and I are still close. She lives nearby and we talk on the phone quite a bit too. Plus, her son hangs out with my kids a lot. I guess they're his surrogate siblings :-)

Churlita: That is a perfect example of when it is so important to have those others who are on your side. I know that at least one of your sisters reads your blog, right?
Your girls do seem close...and that is great at their ages especially. My kids are close, but like I was talking about there are all these premutations. Sometimes some of them are hanging out a lot and then a different group forms. Luckily though, I do get a sense that they all put each other first a lot of the time. It reassures me that they'll all have people to count on throughout their lives.

Anonymous said...

My brother and I didn't get along that well early in our lives when we lived under the same roof. Then he moved out on his own and we started getting along better and better. I guess time has a different effect on everybody.

laura b. said...

AlienCG: I actually saw something like that with a some of my kids. You're right, it is a different ride for us all.

NoRegrets said...

Hmm, that's really interesting to read, since I"m from a family of 6. My ex was just the two of them, but they were more rivals, so it doesn't really compare I think. Nicely written!

laura b. said...

NoRegrets: I love hearing about other people's family experiences. I'm glad you liked mine, thanks :-)