Although we grew up in different times and places, different generations and societal norms, my grandma, mom and I share a common bond – we were the only daughters in our families. My grandma had four brothers, my mom has three and I have two. No sisters in sight. We all ended up with sisters by marriage, but I’ve always thought that wasn’t quite the same.
My grandma spent a lot of time with me one-on-one when we visited them on the farm. Not only was I the only daughter in my family, I was the only granddaughter in the larger family. Not until I was 12 did another girl come into the fold. So, for the first 12 years, my brothers and cousins would often be out on the land or in the barn with grandpa while I was inside or in the garden with grandma. She understood what it was like to be the only girl – in her case, she was the only woman in the house for part of her life as her mother died young. She got it – she knew the importance of me having some special time with her away from all the boys.
I always wished I had a sister – someone to confide in, someone to share clothes with, someone to teach me how to do my hair. I am thankful though – despite not having a sister, I did (and still do) have a younger brother who loved to play with me. He was up for anything – we didn’t share clothes (actually, we did – I went through a phase…) or commiserate about boyfriends, but we did have a lot of fun and my mind is loaded of so many wonderful memories of us playing together as children.
Over the last several years, I’ve gained sisters – one from my younger brother’s marriage and three from my own marriage. Welcoming Misty into our family has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. Now that I’m married and chose to change my last name, I still find it odd that another woman has the last name Moman while I don’t! What I’m learning about having a sister is that age doesn’t really matter. I advise her, she advises me. I support her, she supports me. And the greatest gift of all, because of my sister, I have four amazing nieces. Four sisters in almost as many years. They are truly the light of my life, these little sisters, or as the twins say “shisher.” They won’t know life without a sister – probably a blessing and a curse, just like everything else in life.
When Brad and I started dating I was nervous about meeting his three sisters – Dana, Megan and Becca. I knew there was a bond between these three women, a sisterhood that I could never enter. I don’t have the shared childhood memories or understand all the inside jokes. But, the circle they share isn’t as tightly closed as I once thought it might be. Now I’m the one with the last name they always claimed as their own. Now I am an aunt to their children – more gifts, more light. And, I have sisters (and a wonderful mother-in-law!) to help me discover new clothes and try new hairstyles. Just the other day, I was sitting with two of them while one was doing my hair and I thought, “This is it! I have sisters!”
Although my mom can remember a time without my Aunt Beth and Aunt Laura, I can’t. They have always been a part of my life. These sisters she gained later in life are now women that are a given in my own life. The same will be true for my niece and nephews on the Brock side – they will never know a life without Aunt Anne. For them I will be a given.
Families are funny things. One day we just show up with parents and, sometimes, siblings. We don’t have a choice in the matter – it just happens. Our families may not always be what we want them to be. I wished for someone else to be part of our family, but a sister was never part of the plan. I had no idea that so many years later I would have a handful of sisters. All of my sisters had sisters before I came into their lives. They grew up sharing clothes, pestering and supporting each other, ganging up on mom and dad. I may not know what it’s like to have a sister, but I know what it’s like to be one. So when they listen to me and laugh with me and share stories with me, I know what a gift it is.
Just like our families of origin, gaining in-laws is often something we don’t have a say in. It was ultimately my brother’s choice to marry Misty. My sisters-in-law didn’t really have a choice about Brad’s marriage to me. So, here we all are – a family where people just show up and become our siblings overnight. I’m grateful for my sisters – I wished for them for years and now, here they are. I may not be the first person they turn to, I’m not an original sister, and that’s okay. Sisterhood is something that grows with time and thankfully, for today, I’ve got all the time in the world.