I still love you: on sisterhood

My dearest daughters.

I’m writing you this letter because it was the first response that came to mind after seeing a picture that #2 drew for #1. For your own sakes, I’ll refer to you as numbers. This is my little way of respecting your online privacy. Thank me later.

#2, you were so excited to give this to your sister, this 5.5 x 8 inch pink-ish sheet, the kind that comes in a variety pack of colors only little kids use and only adults can properly extract from the glue binding. The sheet is covered in black crayon scribbles and a single red crayon circle. Based on how the crayon marks overlap, it seems you drew the red circle first then expanded your art work with the black lines that go back and forth, up and own, here and there.

When I entered your classroom at the end of your school day, you immediately picked up your drawing from the table near the door and showed it to me. You were proud of this and I quickly saw why when I read what a teacher had so carefully inscribed:

“To #1,
Love,
#2″

When we got home, we realized you’d left it at school. In getting on your jacket, I’d told you to put the paper down until you were all zipped up. That’s the last I saw of it. Surely it was still there and you could get it tomorrow.

You cried and cried. “Tomorrow” was no consolation. This was for your sister, your one and only, your third parent whose hair you sometimes pull when you’ve had enough.

You shed those ugly tears that I’m so sure are rustled up.

The next day, #1 shared excitedly that she’d found your gift. Her teacher gave it to her. Ah, you must have put it in #1’s classroom while we waited for her to collect her things before heading home and while you, #2, curiously picked up small blocks and other fascinating work that these older kids get to use.

Your big sister was proud of you. She declared how much she loved what you’d drawn. You smiled your gentle smile, the one that lets us know you’re content.

And I was proud of you, #1, as you honored your sister’s creativity and her love for you. You could have laughed at her efforts. After all, you’re able to draw figures that actually look like people. But you warmly affirmed her, valued her. It’s a gift to be seen by the ones you adore and she certainly adores you.

My second response to seeing this art work is…

“But one day, one day you’ll fight.”

Hopefully not with fists but definitely with words, far beyond the spats you already experience almost daily–these are, in truth, child’s play.  There will be at least one future fight that’ll cause you to wonder, “How can you possibly be my sister?” or something with similar overwhelm and shame.

Trust me. I have two sisters. We’ve had our share of verbal warfare. And when my older sister and I had a really bad argument some 20 years ago, my mother said to us plainly, “Fix it.”

I trusted her. She has two sisters, too.

We fixed it, but it was hard. It meant not letting pride help you craft your next sentence. It meant that winning wasn’t the goal. It meant all the things you don’t want when you’re heated and when you’ve been hurt by someone you adore.

When your day comes, my words will be the same as your grandmother’s:

Fix it.

You’ve only had 3 years together but they’ve been full of memories. Imagine 17 more. By then you’ll have a much more impressive memory lane, too rich to give up on. So I’ll tell you to fix it, sort it out, heal, hold each other with care.

The near purity of your love is scribbled across a pink-ish colored paper that you’ve eagerly given and received. I want that for you always.

I love you,
Mum.

 

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