Part 2 of my blogging on siblings, which I have two of. So there will only be two parts. The more I talk to people about this subject, the more I realize that we are all wired so differently, and it was discouraging, because my main stance on this was: if I raise my children a certain way or avoid doing something, can that change their views on family when they are adults? Why is there always one sibling who holds the family together?
Think about that for a second. If there are two of you, or if there are eight of you, there is always at least ONE sibling who just values family time more than the others. It doesn’t mean the others don’t love their families, but let’s be completely honest here, if it’s not you who brings the family together and checks in on everyone, and “cares too much”, then you know exactly who that is in the family.
I cannot explain this “pit bull” (as my father called it) that I have in me. Like I’ve mentioned before, if anyone made fun of my siblings or treated them badly, I didn’t like them – for life! I didn’t have to meet the person to just not like them if they wronged my sibling/s. I’ve toned down, don’t worry. I’m talking about my childhood. I took up that role since my older brother wasn’t as concerned, let’s just leave it at that. He probably also looked at me and thought: yeah, she can take care of herself. The truth is I always wanted an older, protective brother. That just wasn’t how my brother was wired. He is sensitive, caring, kind, and he picks his battles wisely. I know if it boiled down to it, he would protect me, but if it meant just snapping at someone random, nope, he was good.
Since I cannot really tap in to the other personality since my own is tough enough to dissect, I can tell you that it is not easy to be “the glue”. At times I feel that if I didn’t make plans to see everyone, we would go years without seeing each other. The frustration kicked in only recently to where I felt that I was always the one trying, and no one else gave a ____. Come to realize, they likely just got too used to me being the one who planned get-togethers, so I kind of did this to myself. Why was it so important to see one another, as often as possible?
Whenever my sister and I would have a really bad fight growing up, my dad would pull us aside and start with the lecture. It usually always ended with him looking at me saying, “if anything ever happened to her, you would be the first to cry.” Then he would look at my sister and say the same thing. Of course as teens our eyes would roll and we would likely think of something crass to say like, “Yeah, tears of joy!” This is where my cynical side comes in… and of course I would be joking. Word to the wise though, don’t say this to your parents immediately after, they will not find it funny and take away your tv privileges for the week.
Besides getting in to the usual response of: life is short, I have another way of looking at things.
Here’s a recent example: I am up to my ears with things to do. I have 2 businesses, 1 livelihood project, 2 kids, dinners to prepare nightly, a move coming up, a long trip approaching, packing for the move and packing for this trip, so much uncertanty in my future that is more exciting than stressful, and I get a last minute call from a childhood friend. My very first friend I met when I moved to America. We were in 1st grade together. She asked me what I was up to the following weekend since she was in town from Memphis and is only in town-it seems-once a year. So instead of naming all of the reasons/excuses I could have given her (which she would likely have been more than understanding of) I freed up my schedule as best as I could, got someone to watch the kids for a couple hours, and drove downtown to see her. Here’s my thought process: we are all allowed to be busy. We are all allowed to just want to stay home and rest. But life, is fleeting. 25 years since I’ve been in 1st grade. What is life about anyways but making memories and sharing moments with people? Doesn’t this justify why we work so hard? Don’t work so hard that you are not able to get away to visit with a friend from the past, especially one who made a difference in your life. If I was too busy to leave for a few hours for this visit, I would have started resenting my work.
With family it’s “worse”. I will not just clear schedule for family, I will make moves and ways to ensure that they are comfortable. Help with travel arrangements if necessary, and already start planning out all the places we will visit at and places to eat. That’s just been my nature. Is this ever reciprocated between siblings? Let me tell you this: I’ve just grown to not expect it, so I don’t feel disappointed. If I were tit-for-tat with my siblings, I would have zero relationship with them. I would not have been able to get to know them better, and as adults, because of pride and arrogance, and this mentality that just because I do something, they should do the same. Nope, I learn more and more daily that it doesn’t matter how frustrating it is, you just cannot expect people to be like you and think like you, no matter how much you deem something as: common sense. Furthermore, you cannot be upset about it, because they likely have no idea that it’s affecting you, and voicing it out to them can only result in them thinking you are just reaching for something to be mad about.
Which leads me to this: It’s not easy to maintain relationships with your siblings. If you’re incredibly close, consider yourselves blessed and in the 5%. It’s more common in this country for people to just go their separate ways. How many brothers out there no longer talk because of this constant competing? How many sisters are not speaking because of different views on hot topics? What I do to avoid this void, is to not make the relationship based on views or on lifestyle choice. Can we co-exist and be civil while being so different? Of course. We are brought together through our love of each others’ kids, similar taste in movies, similar tastes in good eats, memories from the past that only we would be able to laugh to, the fact that they would be the only people in my life that can understand our parents and we can go from there… some of my favorite topics with my siblings is when we bring up our parents and how we were raised, and how, now as adults, we viewed things as children. It’s amazing to me to be able to see a moment from my childhood interpreted differently from someone who was actually there.
So you see, you don’t necessarily have to “have it all” when it comes to keeping a relationship with your sibling…but I bet if you dug deep enough, you could find many reasons to keep in touch, and be friendly towards one another, regardless of how different you turned out. Think about your own children, think about how you would want them to be towards one another when they’re older. Think about the value that this person could bring to their lives. With families around us so quick to fall apart, with divorce rates increasing like no other, with it becoming so unheard of that a couple stays married past 10 years, and worthy of praise if they last more than 30 years (last I checked, a VOW and promise just isn’t what it used to be…), of course it’s not in our interests to maintain a relationship with our sibling. All around us are words of discouragement, people who tell us things like “to each his own”, “go your own way”, “Do your own thing”, “who cares what anyone else thinks”… it’s easier to get suckered in to yet another lie that society wants to spit your way to continue to make family unimportant. And it is. It’s all we have when there’s nothing left. We have to lead by example. Yes, your feelings matter, your hurt towards a past experience with someone matters, but voicing that out, trying your absolute hardest to move past that, forgiving in order for your own spirit and happiness to begin, that, is growing up. The toughest thing for me to do is continue to take situations and make good choices, even when I don’t think it will be reciprocated or that the other person deserves that kindness. If I still have it in me to be kind and forgiving, I will cling on to that and try constantly to not let that spirit die. The spirit that I want to die off so badly is that called: PRIDE. If I gave up on my siblings because of moments from the past where selfish and bad decisions were made (on both sides), where would that leave me? What would that teach my own children? Focus on the fun you used to have when you were both innocent. Focus on the times when you wish a parent or grown up stepped in and reminded you how much you need each other, how things of this world don’t matter, and how in the end, you will be the first to cry if something bad happened to this person.
There will always be THAT sibling. You know, the one who is too concerned with everyone else, the one who can be a little annoying at times but ultimately has good intentions .. and there will always be THAT sibling. The one who is a little more carefree, likes to get lost/wander off for long periods of time without responding, but ultimately has good intentions. Think about the other as that lifelong friend you shouldn’t walk away from too easily. Especially in a world where it’s encouraged to walk away from negativity…I am encouraging you to TRY. I’ve seen money ruin families. I’ve seen it completely tear people apart. It’s not worth it! You cannot take it with you! All you can really leave your children are lessons, whether they’re to copy or throw to the side. Leave them lessons worth COPYING.
I am so grateful that my siblings have forgiven me of my stupidity when I was a child. I am so happy to have them on my speed dial and in my life, even if it’s a few times a year. I’ll take it. Regret is painful. It’s a tougher pill to swallow than saying sorry. If you’re that sibling (like me) who feels like the glue, instead of always being upset about it, be grateful that it’s a spirit in you to do so. Be grateful that you were wired like this, that if anyone had to do it, you’ll do it happily. Know that you’re not alone! I wish there was a “sibling glue” support group! Perhaps I should start one? 😉 Yes, there are many times when I wanna say, “eff this! I am tired of always being the one who cares! I am tired of being the only one losing sleep every night over worrying about ___. Doubt they lose sleep over me!” Let me tell you, if you’re anything like me, the satisfaction to “stop caring” only lasts for so long. You cannot help it. That switch will turn on automatically again and you will go on caring, and I am here to tell you to LEAVE THAT SWITCH ON as long as possible! If you need to refresh every now and then, turn it off a little, but not for too long. You are needed. Keep planning the get-togethers, continue calling every now and then. Is it usually the 2nd child or middle child who bares this cross? The more I speak to people with my same frustrations the more I realize they are the middle child like me. I wonder why that is? Perhaps a future examination or study is in my near future. <3 That’s all for now, continue loving! 🙂
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Photo above by: Dad. 1991