My little sister is amazing. When we were younger, I often found her to be less than amazing. She was skilled at looking like the victim despite being unopposed to physical violence when Mom and Dad weren’t looking, was my forced tagalong when I went to play with my friends, and ripped the head off of my beloved wedding day Barbie because I made her mad (I will NEVER let that one go)! Suffice it to say that I found her a bit challenging as a child. Fast forward a number of years and she is my forever best friend.
The other day I called my sis and she casually mentioned mid-conversation that she was in the midst of making gingerbread houses with her kids (probably mostly her daughter because I’m pretty sure her son would be better suited for demolition than construction with his toddler self). I marveled at the way she didn’t miss a beat in our conversation, while simultaneously navigating a task I have always avoided because of the potential mess and disappointment. I’ve imagined the scene in my own home looking a bit like building a house of cards with bits of candy flying everywhere and children crying because they’re out of icing and their houses still won’t stand up! Yet, here was my sister in all her parenting glory, holding a coherent phone conversation and gingerbread housing all at once.
My sister is the mom I thought I’d be. It’s taken me a couple of years to be comfortable saying that (and by a couple I mean about four because that’s the age of her oldest). She is patient, where I need regular mommy timeouts to keep my cool. She paints, glues, and creates with the kids at her table, while I have relegated any craft supplies beyond coloring books to a corner of the basement where I do not go. Her house is always ready for a lifestyle magazine photoshoot, whereas my house is always ready for me to purge, reorganize, and deep clean it. My niece has a better sense of emotional regulation than I do, and it’s because her mom has taught her those skills. I could go on but my sister doesn’t handle compliments super well and she still scares me a bit *cough* wedding Barbie *cough*.
The craziest part about this revelation is that it no longer makes me feel like I’m a bad mom, it just makes me proud of my sister. She isn’t a better mom than me, she’s just a damn good mom in her own right! And since I love my niece and nephew more than I thought it possible to love someone else’s children, I’m really grateful that she’s got this mom thing down. It’s also pretty awesome to have someone to help me make crafts to gift on holidays, or help me decorate, or just to name drop to people who marvel at her family on Instagram (did I mention her family is gorgeous).
I think it’s good to be able to celebrate others without feeling put down yourself. It would be great if I could figure out how to instill this lesson into my own children- the sibling rivalry is strong with these ones. I’m not the mom I thought I’d be, but I love my babies with everything in me. My sister has skills that I’m not getting any awards for, and she loves my babies too. That whole “it takes a village” thing is pretty accurate.