Friday, April 10, 2015

To my siblings...

Yep, I'm the cool middle sister with the giant shades
Last night, as usual, I was completely exhausted by the time enough of the younger people I live with were asleep that I felt like I could go to bed too.  I went to kiss my big girls goodnight -- and couldn't find Jayna!  But then I noticed a suspiciously large pile of blankets in Skyler's room (Skywas downstairs finishing things up for the night).  I pulled the blanket back, and sure enough here was Jayna.  She was giggling, "Don't give me away!"  I laughed too and then went in my room where, with the door open, I could listen to what would happen next.

I didn't have to wait long.  There was a gasp... And a whole lot of giggling that followed shortly.  I sat in bed giggling too.  This is one of the things it means to have siblings in our family.  I thanked God that they love each other as much as they do.

I didn't know today was National Sibling Day.  When did this start?  But I think it's kind of cool.  All day I've seen the pictures posted and just felt a whole lot of gratitude.  I think it's funny when people ask if my kids are close with "such a big age gap."  Jayna and Skyler are my "closest" kids -- 3 1/2 years apart.  Having had Jayna before my 21st birthday, I couldn't imagine having another baby sooner.  Then it was almost 5 years before Lilly came along, close to 4 before Wyatt, and now it will be just over 3 1/2 years again between him and Baby 5.  It just felt like the right time for these babies, and I didn't really give a moment's thought to whether or not it was "too far" for them to be close.  
I know it's blurry, but this is too sweet.

With this pregnancy, a few people have pointed out that Jayna will be almost 16 when this baby is born.  When I say something along the lines of, "Yes, true. So?" they inevitably point out that she's almost as old as I was when I had her, that they will probably not be very close as siblings and so on.  Hmmm. 

Okay.  I see the concern.  We don't look like the "average" family.  For one thing, we have twice as many kids.  They're really spread out.  But let me tell you a little about my own family growing up. 

First, there was Jenny.  Two years and eight months later, I joined her.  She was my first best friend, and the person I looked up to more than anybody else.  She could make me do truly insane things because I so wanted to impress her, including but not limited to falling off a roof, falling out of a guava tree into a pineapple patch (oh, how I still remember that pain!), and getting stuck in mud.  I thank her largely for my vegetarianism, because she actually liked watching the chickens get killed in our yard, and for my knowledge of where babies come from (well, the textbook version, not the practical one I learned when married) because she made me ask my mom when she wanted to know.  

For years, I begged God to let me be a big sister too because of how much I loved Jenny.  Finally, when I was 6 1/2, we adopted my 3 year-old little sister, Jackie.  It is hard to describe just how excited the day I was when we got to bring her home.  I finally had someone to boss around (or at least, this is what I thought) and play with.  I loved her shiny black hair and button nose.  It didn't matter that we had different skin colors; she was my hard-fought, long-prayed-for sister, and if you messed with her, you'd better watch out for me.  As she got older, we really enjoyed confusing people.  

"You're sisters?" they'd ask.

"Yup!"  we'd say.

"Same mom?" Nod.  "Same dad?" Nod again.  Then they would act like we must not know some dark family secret.  And we'd just laugh.

Because this whole sibling thing just doesn't look the same across the board.  She was my sister.  There was no "adopted" in that title.

And then... I got married.  Matt has three sisters, and he's right in the middle of them.  We've had lots of crazy, hilarious times together.  We're all very different, but getting together -- it's truly just one big party.  After over 17 years of being family, we have a thousand jokes that no one else would get, and we've had our times of worried prayer or shed tears for each other.  They are my sisters too.

And he's also got step-siblings.  One of the most enjoyable evenings last fall was when my step-sister-in-law (geez, that's a lot of hyphens) and her husband were visiting the island and joined us for dinner.  When they left, I felt such gratitude that we could have a fun evening like that, and I also felt sad that we can't see them more.

So what I guess I'm saying is, the look of family changes a lot over the course of a lifetime.  It's not the same for everyone.  The 16 years between Jayna and Baby 5 -- well, I hope they don't matter.  And I think that they won't.  I hope that Wyatt is okay with being the brother, and I think he will be.  Families -- siblings -- regardless of how they look, take heaps of work and love and grace.  

Last fall, when I was feeling nauseous and lying on the couch wishing I felt better, I texted a friend of mine, "I feel like I'm being a bad mom to my kids because I don't even want to move right now."  And she texted back, "No, you're a good mom.  You're just busy right now growing them another best friend."    

I've broken up 267 fights since my kids got up this morning.  I've begged them to stop yelling.  I've wanted to pull my hair out because of how they argue.  But I've also seen the way they love each other so very hard, and I trust (and pray) that continues for a lifetime.  I'm writing this today because in addition to all that difference, all that work and grace, we should take a day to be thankful for our siblings.

To my siblings -- all of them -- I'm thankful for you! Love you so very much!

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