Growing up, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to wish for a sister. My mother didn’t have a one, and oddly, most of my friends didn’t have sisters, at least not ones close to their age. The sister relationship was something I mostly read about or saw on T.V., like Laura and Mary Ingalls or Marsha, Jan, and Cindy. I really didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything special.
Then I had my girls. And for the last 19 years I have experienced, with gratitude, wonder, and sometimes frustration, the complexity of sisterhood.
What having a sister means
Raising sisters means gently handing your toddler the new baby and knowing, just knowing, she is holding her best friend.
Raising sisters means experiencing the thrill of finding adorable matching outfits–and the crushing disappointment when one decides she won’t wear it.
It means watching two little girls in princess gowns run hand-in-hand through the backyard–one wearing a tiara, the other wielding a plastic sword.
It means watching your daughters sleeping, a tangle of chubby legs and long hair, their breath and their heartbeats in sync and your own heart so full of love and gratitude you wonder how it can hold it all without bursting.
Raising sisters means balancing happiness and heartbreak when one daughter wins and the other doesn’t.
Raising sisters is being continually mystified by how completely different they are–no matter how many matching outfits you buy.
It means, when a friend is over, saying, “Let your sister play,” and “Leave your sister alone.”
It is saying, “Share!” Take turns” “Wait”
Raising sisters means knowing when to buy two of the same thing and when not to–because they are not the same person and every girl should have some things that are just for her.
Raising sisters means learning when to get involved and when to let them work it out.
It is watching the same girls who, an hour ago, were duking it out over whose side of the room is messier now cuddled up on the couch together giggling over a funny video.
Raising sisters means praying they will be best friends and realizing some days they will, and some days they won’t.
It is watching them text each other from across the room and knowing they are talking about you–but not even really caring.
Raising sisters is the satisfaction of knowing you will get double your money’s worth on most of the clothes you buy.
It also means knowing there will be a lot of fights over those clothes.
Raising sisters is knowing that when someone has hurt one of your daughters, your other daughter is hurting too–maybe more.
It means knowing my girls’ children will have an aunt who will love them like they are her own.
It means feeling a certain relief that, even if something happens to me, my daughters have each other.
It is the strange and unspeakable comfort of knowing that they will always share the bond of being women raised by the same woman.
Raising sisters, for me, means missing something I never had.
Raising my daughters, raising sisters and watching them grow up as best friends (and sometimes as fierce foes) has been one of the great privileges of my life. I never had a sister, but raising my girls has given me a front row seat to one of life’s most complex and beautiful relationships.
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