I grew up the youngest of five kids. I remember once when my mom said in a moment of frustration with her own family that her focus was now on her new family—her kids. I also remember hearing my sister—who is six years older than me and married young—echo the same thing. This is my family now.
As the youngest it felt a little like everyone was moving on and leaving me, but also forming new families while I clung to the only one I had. Ironically, in my 20s I would move farther than any of them, but this sort of nostalgic tragedy of everyday life stuck with me. How could a family that was everything to you growing up be supplanted in the priority list because you met someone new and had kids?
It felt ungrateful to say the least. (A feeling that’s grown since I became a mother, and lived how hard raising kids is!)
Fast forward to today and I’ve had to explain the same weird phenomenon to my kids. The other day we were at a birthday party and out of nowhere Evie said to other adults in the room, “My mom hardly ever gets to see her mom, and it’s so sad.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s right. It is sad.”
My kids see how excited I get every six months when we go back to Memphis, and I tell so many stories of my siblings and me growing up. They don’t quite get why I don’t see them more.
If you drift from parents, you really drift from siblings. At least in my family, parents are the sun and we all have our own individual orbits around them that don’t always intersect. That may be the bigger tragedy. One of the most romantic ideas of siblings is it’s a gift you give to your kids that will outlive the parents.
I tell Eli and Evie that they are just like how Uncle Peter and I were together. Eli and Evie—especially Evie—must look at each other, look at their bond, and shudder to think of a time there might be an entire country between them. As of now, there’s barely three inches of air between them at any given time.
In the last year, unexpectedly, my bond with my two closest siblings has been turbo-charged, and it gives me so much joy to be bucking against this inevitable drift of life and age and reality. We text one another pretty much daily, we are all helping each other with real world problems, everyone is vulnerable with one another, and the walls, the preconceived notions that have crept up over the 20 years since the youngest left home, have just shattered.
Looking at my calendar I realized that something insane is coming up in about a week: My sister and I are joining my brother in New Orleans to go to a B-52s/OMD concert. My sister was obsessed with OMD during the whole John Hughes era, and so my brother and I were also obsessed because she was our cool older sister. This started as a joke, and then we all just committed—money, kids, jobs and the insanity of life be damned.
That’s how you fight sibling drift. Making the jokes of “we should totally do this” a reality.
Today we’re featuring a few of our must-read Chairman Mom threads about managing sibling relationships. Add your two cents!
- How do *you* nurture your long-distance platonic relationships?
- Is it fair to de-invite a super toxic sibling from a family reunion?
- Preparing your firstborn to be a sibling
- My sister is a single mom. How much should I be helping?