Little sisters. The source of much fictional angst – Jo and Amy in Little Women, Beezus and Ramona in all of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, and other pairs in countless movies and tv shows. I’m thankful that my relationship with my sister isn’t nearly as dramatic as the above examples.
Actually, with an 8-year age gap, I barely registered her as a person before she was in high school. Hmm, so maybe SHE felt that it was a bit angst-y….. 🙂 Now, however, I count her as one of my favorite people in the whole world.
She’s hosting us for Thanksgiving this year and we’ll get to celebrate her birthday while we’re here, so it feels very appropriate to choose her for my #WCW series this week.
Catherine was 9 when I moved away to college and 12 when I got married. We were in such different phases of life that we didn’t really have a relationship while we were growing up. The year my husband was deployed to Kuwait and my dad got diagnosed with cancer was in many ways the most intense and stressful of my life. But in one major way, it was one of the best and most significant of my adult life. It was in this year that I rediscovered my sister.
When I brought my 14-month-old daughter back home from Germany to live for a few months, I got to know my sister all over again, not as a kid who was grossed out by public displays of affection or who wanted to tag along to everything, but as a person coming in to her own.
I got to go with her to a travel softball tournament, help her study for exams, watch silly tv shows, and watch her dote on her niece. She helped bring me out of my funks when I was missing my husband and she played with my daughter when I just couldn’t muster any more toddler enthusiasm. Those months are the shiniest of silver linings I’ve experienced.
As time has passed, we’ve stayed close again. Lately, I’ve felt that the big sister/little sister dynamics have totally flipped with me calling her in distress and her calming me down, talking me down from the ledge, and offering heartfelt words and wise perspective. She still loves being an aunt to my kids, staying involved in their lives, asking great questions to pull them out of their shells, and just generally giving them space to be who they are.
Most recently, she’s introduced me to the Enneagram and that’s opened up a whole new season of soul searching for me and a deeper understanding of our family dynamics. (I’m a 1. She’s a 9. If you don’t know what that means, check this out for a very broad overview). It’s a little hard to say I’m grateful for her introducing me to this since my “type” feels like the worst thing ever. But basically every type thinks that about themselves, so yay? I will say it’s given me great language to describe characteristics of myself and my family that has been helpful – but be warned if you go on the Enneagram journey – it’s not comfy.
It’s hard to pinpoint with a person you’ve known their whole life the ONE thing you love or are grateful for about them. But I think the thing I’m currently most grateful for is her ability to let people be who they are and to really celebrate it. She doesn’t expect people to like the same things she does or want to do the same things she does. She actually enjoys watching her family do the things they like to do and feels neither the compulsion to join or the compulsion to convince us to take different path. When you’re with her, there’s no need to pretend or to hide some part of yourself that may be too much or not enough in other environments. You just get to be you. It’s a gift that I treasure.
The great thing about sisters is that they really are forever. I love how our relationship has morphed as we’ve both gotten older. I can only imagine that it will keep getting better. Love you sister. I’m so thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving!