The Power of Sisterly Love

DaughtersThis past weekend, I took my 9-year-old daughter to visit her 19-year-old sister at college for the first time. Soph was initially hesitant about having us because it was St. Patrick’s day weekend, which meant there would be lots of not-to-miss festivities­—not appropriate for her mom and 3rd grade sister to attend. But this was the weekend that worked for us and I assured her that we would retire early and she could have her nights out with her friends.

As our arrival date got closer, I could tell that Soph was truly looking forward to spending time with us. As hard as it is for college freshman to admit that they are sometimes lonesome, the truth is, they are…and then they’re not. But my motherly instinct told me that since Soph had chosen to go away with friends instead of coming home for her spring break, the time lapse between winter break and the end of her first year of college would be too long of a stretch to go without seeing each other (and I certainly knew it was too long for me).

I couldn’t wait to see my girl, my young adult, who made the transition to college look relatively seamless (which was not the case for me when she left for college). In addition to the joy I felt in seeing her, something took me by surprise during our weekend visit. It began the moment we walked in to the lobby where Soph was waiting for us. Soph looked at me and smiled big, and then I saw fireworks explode in her eyes as she laid eyes upon her “baby” sister. My two girls made an immediate B-line for each other and Jo literally leapt into her big sister’s open arms. They hugged each other tightly, for quite some time, and I could feel the connective, sisterly energy surge between them.

Sophie has been more than a big sister to Jo. She has nurtured her younger sister with the love and tenderness of a mother figure. Their ten-year age gap took the elements of  jealousy and competition, so common amongst siblings, out of their relationship. Soph was secure with herself when Jo was born, and secure in her relationships with her parents and her brothers. Jo was a huge bonus to Soph—the sister she always wanted, her dream come true.

I watched how proud and happy Soph was when introducing her sister to all of her friends. “Oh my gosh, you guys look exactly alike,” her friends said, as they swooned over Jo. My girls both smiled.

After an entertaining dinner with Soph and some of her friends (of course I had to ask them to share “Sophie stories”), we headed back to her dorm. Talk of a sleepover began. As my girls tried to convince me to let Jo sleep with Soph in her dorm room, I have to admit, I felt a bit left out. But then it hit me. Soph chose not to head out with all her friends on the Friday night of St. Patty’s weekend, and was excited about sleeping next to her 9-year-old sister in her twin bed, in her cramped dorm room. (They declined my offer of spending the night with me in a nice, clean hotel room with two queen-sized beds).

As I walked out to my car to head to the hotel by myself, I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude for my daughters; for my relationship with each of them, the relationship that the three of us share, and  the relationship between the two of them. I felt comfort in knowing that Jo will have Soph as a strong and solid role model to help guide and support her throughout her life, and that they will have each other long after I am gone.

All of my concerns about whether or not my daughters would be able to have a close relationship because of their age difference melted away. It became clear that the strength of their sisterly bond is not measured by the years or the distance that divides them, but the strength of their love and their commitment to each other.

Comments

  1. Bradstrong says:

    I love the picture. Those moments of pure joy are the most wonderful moments of all. You captured it perfectly.

  2. Julie! I want this exact same thing for my kids. Will they ever choose to spend time together without me coercing them? I hope so! I loved this. And what a precious picture of you and Josie.

    • I know, Nina, and I’m not sure we can force it. Maybe a little by emphasizing the importance of family, which I know you do, and how important it is that when push comes to shove, siblings have each other’s back (even though they may fight). I am so grateful that my girls are close. I look forward to seeing how their relationship grows over time. Thanks :)!

  3. This hit so close to home for me. Having 2 girls 16 months apart there is the jealousy, competition and all the things that come with a closeness in age, but there are also the glimpses of the sisterly bond that can not be broken. It is a joy to watch unfold.
    Beautiful written, Julie.

    • Thanks, Judy. Yes, my sister and I fought a lot growing up and now are the very best of friends. It takes work and commitment but that sisterly bond is a pretty special thing. Enjoy!

  4. That’s awesome! Glad the visit worked out so well 🙂

  5. Maura Mitchell says:

    Love this, Julie, and so excited for all 3 of you to have had an amazing weekend together! Sisters are such a gift — I thank God everyday for the two incredible sisters I have and feel so lucky for the bond we’ve built throughout our lifetimes! Josie & Sophie are so fortunate! You are one lucky mom too!

  6. Martha Mitchell says:

    What a wonderful experience for you! You’re an excellent writer and your account made me a bit teary, and also happy in that I can see myself in the same situation with our two boys. They are very close, and when this kind of thing happens, I’m thrilled they want to hang together, and I leave alone happily. Your are correct when you say that they will be there for each other. I know our sons will always be bonded and that makes me feel very secure.

    • Thanks so much, Martha! And yes, I think this goes for brothers too. I love hearing that your two boys are so close. Even though my boys are 4 1/2 years apart, they also share a special bond that I think will remain strong throughout their lives. Maybe I will write about brothers at some point :). Great to hear from you!

  7. I loved reading about this experience between you and your girls. Something in your writing always pulls at my heartstrings. xoxo

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