Friday, October 5, 2012

How Siblings Prepare You For Motherhood

I’ve been putting together a slideshow for my sister’s wedding, and boy, does it have me thinking about the passage of time. I’m imagining myself putting together a slideshow for Hannah’s wedding one day (while bawling my eyes out) and thinking about how that ‘one day’ is not so far off in the distance.

Years ago I was just a big sister who yearned to be a mother. Siblings are great for preparing you for motherhood. Their significance lies in the fact that they have just enough in common with you to drive you batshit crazy while also keeping you a little sane. It’s that bizarre dichotomous nature that makes life with siblings so interesting, infuriating, and yet rewarding (if you’re lucky enough to recognize the perks).
As the oldest in the family, I always felt a lot of responsibility in taking care of and raising my little sisters. Probably too much…I so badly wanted to set a good example for them, which greatly shaped who I became as a cautious perfectionist and someone who didn’t step outside of boundaries for fear of failing in their eyes.

Honestly, I don't see myself as much of a perfectionist anymore, probably because becoming a parent has made my own flaws so much more glaringly obvious, and I've grown tired of trying to hide them. I am, however, quite aware of the little eyes upon me, and I see myself reflected in them as they look up at me, pleading with me to love them, accept them, be proud of them…
Once, while babysitting my youngest sister (I’m ten years older), I felt like I was a little too hard on her when I sent her to her room after she’d acted up. I had yelled, lost my temper, and then felt like a horrible sister and worried I would eventually become a terribly impatient mother. But it wasn’t long before she came back out of her room, gave me a hug, and told me she was sorry.  Of course, my heart immediately melted into a pile of syrupy goo, I forgot all about the prior frustration, and I had a realization that would stick with me throughout my journey toward parenthood.

My patience is not unfailing, and my temperament is not unfaltering.  But Love guides us, and it never wavers. Despite my imperfections, weaknesses, failures…I have what I need to help shape a child. Their eyes will see the weak and the strong, the good and the bad, but because I love them enough to teach them and guide them through it all, they’ll be better for it.
I felt like a mama long before I ever had children of my own, and now I find myself knee-deep in nostalgia as my kids and I do many of the same things my sisters and I did back then.

We tell stories. We act silly. We crank up the music and have ‘dance parties’. We wrestle. We tickle. We laugh and joke. We get on each other’s nerves and then can’t get enough of each other.
I watch them sleep, I marvel at the beauty in their tiny faces, I worry about them, and I wonder where their lives will take them.

To all my sisters – thank you for giving me a small taste of motherhood. I hope my trial run was okay, and I hope you all look back on our memories together as fondly as I do. Even if you did drive me batshit crazy.