I've had siblings on my mind today. Maybe because earlier on the phone, my mother reminded me that I'm the big sister. I smile as I type that because the truth is that I love my role as big sister. And it's just smile-worthy that even though I'm 33 years old, my mother reminds me of this.
I'm the big sister.
I talk a lot about my family on this blog. That's because my heart is with my family. I'm 3 and a half years older than Sara, and I'm nearly 14 years older than Laura. Shocking, I know. :)
Is it important to you that your kids grow up to be close to one another? Not close in distance, necessarily, but close in relationship? It's really important to me. There are all sorts of opinions on how to make that happen. My children are small. Ash is 4 and Linc is 19 months. They'll run around and chase each other, take each other's toys, tattle on each other (well, Ashtyn anyway), tackle one another--or suddenly they'll just hug each other. Ashtyn will kiss the top of Lincoln's head, she'll share something with him, he'll climb onto the couch just to sit next to her and grab her hand--and my heart squeezes. I want them to love each other and I'm so glad they do. But how do I foster that sort of relationship on a daily basis? What about the teen years when they don't like anyone? What about the grown-up years when they might live far apart? How can I tell them how important they are to each other?
Some of this will be up to them. I know that. I can teach them to treat each other with respect, but whether they are intentional about having a strong relationship when they're older--that will be for them to choose.
I learned about sibling relationships from my parents. My mom told me that when she was young and single and just starting out, my Tia Rosalinda took her in and let her live with her for awhile. I remember another aunt telling me that she lived with my parents for awhile while she was getting started. I remember my dad bringing my uncle to live with us for a time when I was in high school. These are all pictures of siblings helping siblings--siblings being part of each other's lives. I grew up watching my mom light up with joy whenever she was with her sisters. My dad laughs the most when he's with his sister and brother. It seems to me that my mom and her sisters are glued together by that same love I was talking about. My dad loves his sister and brother to the point where I know he'd drop everything if they needed him. When I try to explain my relationships with my own sisters--all I can say is that they are the people who will be there no matter what comes.
Is that kind of relationship taught? I'm not sure. I think it's more a matter of raising children with a capacity for love. Some siblings are close out of desperation--they are all each other has and they live with survival instincts. There are so many different scenarios. In other words, there doesn't seem to be a perfect formula for having kids who are close.
I do think that how my kids view my relationships with my siblings will influence their own relationships with each other. I think it matters. I think that raising my kids in a home filled with love and joy and faith will shape the memories they have of growing up together. I hope those memories create a bond they will share forever.
I think love is a big part of the equation. I want to pour it over my kids like syrup on pancakes. I already pray that they will grow into adults who are close. I pray for my kids every day. And you know, even at age 33, I know my parents pray for me every day. And some days, like today, my mother reminds me to be a good big sister.
Ashtyn just woke up from her nap. I took her downstairs, turned on Curious George, and sat Ash at the table with a cup of milk and a peanut butter cookie. I asked if she wanted a second one (because that's how we roll at our house). She said yes, then said, "But I want to save enough for Daddy and Lincoln."
It's a start. :)