This is an ode to big sisters everywhere, but especially mine. You are trailblazers. You are experimental bunnies. You are the best shoulder to cry on for little sisters who forever look up to you (even in our early twenties. OK, OK, late thirties).
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Truth be told, I haven’t cried on my sister’s shoulder in years. Somewhere between her having four children and me getting a divorce, quitting my day job and travelling the world, a silent gap had formed, unspoken but still present.
Despite being raised by two extraordinary parents in a close knit family whose only shortfall was loving each other but rarely ever saying the words, we both chose very different paths in life. My sister married her first love and went on to having four beautiful children. While the path I chose in my early twenties resembled hers—that is, marrying young—the rest of my journey has been very different. But nonetheless, she was always someone I could rely on.
So, it’s no wonder during one of my greatest times of need, the day after we got back home from the hospital with a little bundle of joy we had no idea what to do with, I called my sister, sobbing. That night, she left her four children, ages five to sixteen at home with her husband and came over with a whole, cooked chicken, potato wedges and a tub of ice cream from the local grocery store. How she knew that we needed nourishment was beyond my comprehension at the time, but I guess that’s part of the magical quality that makes my big sis the wonderful human being she is. She held and comforted our son while we enjoyed our first good meal together in days.
Perhaps she knew what to do because she herself had four c-sections.
For months now, I’ve been searching for the right words to express to my sister what I’ve been feeling—not only since that evening, but since she had her firstborn. Sometimes, it takes years to fully comprehend the lessons life teaches us. But, I now get it, and what I want to say is sorry and thank you.
Sorry for not understanding what you were going through every time you were wheeled into the OR to deliver one of your beautiful, healthy babies.
Sorry for not understanding the fear you probably experienced every time you lay down under that bright light or every time you were pumped full of drugs.
Sorry for forgetting that when you had your second, they had to put you out completely because the drugs didn’t do what they were supposed to.
And sorry for trying to make light of your contractions when you had your firstborn, because I was so scared for you and felt so awkward I didn’t know what to do. (You might not remember this one but I certainly felt like an idiot for my behaviour.)
And thank you, for despite my lack of experience in life, you never expected me to understand what you were going through, and you didn’t throw it in my face when I finally realized what a complex journey the road to motherhood can be. And thanks, too, for bringing over chicken and potato wedges.