Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Sisterhood Worth Lacking


I have 5 sisters and they are all strangers to me. If you were to ask me their favorite color, their favorite restaurant, their dreams and fears, I could not tell you. I've met them, and have known them my whole life, but our relationship has been strained by circumstances so much so that developing a friendship, let alone a sister bond is highly unlikely. 

This used to me make me sad. I have wonderful girlfriends whom I love and cherish, and I know there is nothing like the female bond. Most of my friends have sisters they consider first and foremost in their lives; they are each others best friend and their preferred confidante. Occasionally, I wish I had that too, but then I recognize this is a false sense of nostalgia for something that never existed. The alternative for me inevitably always results in toxicity.

It's an interesting conundrum. Some of my sisters have relationships with each other, a fact that might make you think the problem lies with me.  It's more complicated than what appears, but in essence I did make a conscious decision, years ago, to fly away from the family tree. There are few members of my family that I choose to have in my life for various reasons; I have no regrets or qualms about this.  

We are a large family, just counting half siblings, we are 9 in all: 6 girls and 3 boys. The physical and emotional distance between us is unnoticed by the majority, but has proven to be a mentally sound choice for me to make. As all dysfunctional families goes, mine happened to play favorites, and like many patriarchal cultures, the boys held the preferred status. This seems appalling now, how a family could disregard children because of gender, but when you’re a kid the status quo is silently accepted. I always wanted a younger sister, thinking perhaps I could make it right. These are the immature ideas kids sometimes get.

Life gave me something better though: 2 daughters. Both births were met with reassurances from family members and acquaintances alike that a boy would be next, that I should try for a boy next time, that a boy was surely what we wanted. But we wanted daughters, I wanted daughters. I wanted a chance to raise children in a way that I wasn’t, and the fact that they were girls was even better because I could prove to myself that girls were just as capable of being intelligent, having ideas, academic aspirations, and being worthy of love. I’m not near to being a perfect parent but every day I try, I try and nurture them with goodness, values, experiences, and warmth. These are just the essentials that every child needs, regardless of their gender.   

This is an open letter to my daughters. Your bond, your relationship is one of the most sacred things in this universe. Love each other. Trust each other. Praise each other. And above all never compete, never compare, for when one soars the other soars with her. If you can make this promise not to compare, I promise I will make it too. You are each amazing, and radiant, filled with light, beauty, and intelligence as infinite as the cosmos, as time. That light shines brighter when you are near, when you treat each other with love, when you share your thoughts, and whisper secrets to each other, when you love and respect the other wholly. That bond should always be, as long as the earth bond can extend, and as long as the soul can travel. 

My sister troubles have been worth it if my daughters could have the sister bond relationship I never had. It is true that parenthood makes you selfless, because I would give up everything just so they could have it instead. 



9 comments:

  1. I have three older sisters and I am very blessed to have a strong and close relationship with them. An unknown author wrote, “Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.” The four of us sisters are different in personality and we have had our fair share of differences (the worst sibling rivalry you can imagine) but ultimately, we make it work. Many times, selflessly, zero ego and stubbornness and that is what it takes. Our foundation has strong roots, like many gardens; however, sometimes, tending the garden takes some love, care, and “pulling of the weeds,” HARD work. While one flower may grow strong, colorful and beautifully, another may have a challenging time – stubborn and resistant and another may be delicate and frail and needing a lot of attention and care. Regardless, through the many seasons, even the harshest winters, we prevail. Sisterhood. It ain’t easy. May your two girls, daughters and sisters to each other prevail in sisterhood, as they will love each other unconditionally, through smiles and many tears. Thank you for writing this piece, Patricia.

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    1. I really admire the relationship you have with your sisters, and your garden analogy. It's funny because the hard work reference makes me think of a marriage. I guess all relationships are basically alike. I give much credit to parents when it comes to developing that sibling bond, it is so crucial, fragile, and beautiful. Thank you for your wonderful comments as always Ms. E! xoxo

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  2. I relate to this beautiful post so strongly. In my case the dysfunction flowed from my mother's abuse damaging my sister and me, but, without a doubt, by brother bared the brunt of her physical and verbal violence. I chose not to have a relationship with her when my son was very young, which few people understand. But since the birth of my son, my mother's hateful choices along with her denial of her own actions, have made it impossible for me to be around her. I was ambivalent about motherhood fearing I was tainted and destined to be a violent, cruel, inept caregiver. And then I had my son. Like you, I took the knowledge of what not to do and let it guide me. My son was never told he wasn't "worth the dynamite it would take to blow [his] head off". He never had a hand laid on him in anger, and he has never had a day go by without being told how much he is loved.
    Thank you for this piece. Sometimes building healthy new families means letting go of pieces of our past.

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    1. I cannot thank you enough for your comment. I am almost in tears over here about it. Parenting is hard enough as it is, especially when we have not been given the best examples in life. Sometimes, during moments of stress or exhaustion I find myself turning into those adults that just screamed and screamed during my childhood. It's something that I am working on because it's terrifying. But one thing I do is apologize to my daughters for these moments, letting them know it's not okay. I am growing as a mother, and they are guiding me. I'm sure our children will be much better than we were. Thank you for your thoughtful comment Kathy.

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    3. Those heartfelt apologies mean the world to kids. Sometimes that is all we have to make things right.

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    4. I hope so!! Kathy, where is your blog? I would love to read your writing. Please send when you can. Thank you!!

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  3. My teen wittiness wanted to comment on how the cosmos and time may or may not be infinite, but this post shut it up. Congrats. Best of luck to you and your family in the strange and, for me at least, distant world of parenting.

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    1. And we are closer than ever to finding life out there too! Thank you for the witty comment.

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