It’s early Saturday morning. I’m awoken by giggles coming from our office downstairs. I check the time and realize that I must shower and get ready, I have a breakfast date. As I walk downstairs I see a sweet moment to capture. My youngest, Sarah, is sitting on her brother’s lap. Gabe, our eldest, has his left arm wrapped around her, and is helping her construct a world on Roblox, a game Sarah enjoys playing on the desk top. I can’t help but smile. As I gaze at them, admiring their closeness, a few questions pop into my head…
What is at the root of these incredible sibling bonds? Do parents help shape these bonds? Or is it an innate feeling between siblings? What can we learn from sibling bonds? How do they shape the people we become?
The drive into my home state of New Jersey is one I love and hate. I love that New Jersey IS my home state. I boast every chance I can of my “Jersey Girl” roots. I can spot a Jersey native out of the crowd of thousands too. I am not fond of the traffic, the congestion, the occasional construction and lane closures. I like to be surrounded by open spaces, mountains, nature. While driving I think about my bond with my siblings.
A sibling relationship is probably the most enduring relationship of our lives. The impact they have on our young and adult lives is enormous – they shape our history and our character, to a far greater extent than is usually acknowledged. Siblings are a crucial part of a child’s development. They can teach one another socialization skills and the rules of life. I’d like to think that most sibling relationships are close. But, sadly that may not be the case. The truth is, if you really didn’t get along with your siblings, there’s only one way to change that pattern in adulthood. To change it you need to be determined and have the will to work it out.
A sibling connection is hard to describe in a single word. It’s the comfort you feel when you sit in the same room with your brother and sister, in pure silence, yet you both know how the other is feeling. It’s picking up right where you left off, even if it’s been weeks, months or years since the last deep conversation. It’s the knowledge that, at the end of the day, you’ll always be able to call on that person for support.
My sister, Nia and I are close and I’m happy to be in constant contact, and yet it’s not an easy relationship. Our sense of devotion when we were younger was very strong. She is 11 years older than me. She raised me. She was my protector, my playmate, and my role model. She taught me how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Although we drifted apart as young adults, we have strengthened our bond recently. We are similar; strong, compassionate, capable and yet so different. As adults, we support each other, especially when it came to dealing with our parents death. She was the pillar of strength for me and my brothers. Guiding us through unbelievable grief and sorrow. Her loyalty to family never wavers. Never. My sister, is the first person I want to talk to when there’s something that worries me; I know she’ll be worried, too. I know she’ll give me counsel, a perspective that I would not have considered; all the while, cracking a joke, poking some fun and making me laugh out loud. Nia teaches me on a daily basis the importance of supporting other women and embracing the bonds of female friendships. She inspires me, everyday, to be a better person; to rise above, to listen, to empathize. I know there is no one who wants better for me, more than she does.
Sibling relationships outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, and loyalty. ~ Erica E. Goode
I reach my final destination, Rose’s Place in Netcong, New Jersey. I walk in and see her sitting there in “our” booth, waiting for me. Her smile lights up the room. We kiss on both cheeks, the Greek way of greeting people. She jumps eagerly into conversation, asking about the kids, life and work. Time quickly passes, the waitress drops by for a third time to take our order. We hastily order a simple Jersey breakfast of eggs over easy with bacon and rye toast.
As Nia continues to talk, my mind is a drift. Thinking of our bond, of this person I am proud to call my sister. I know in a blink it will be time to say goodbye. We’ll fight over the check, I’ll give her “the look” and beg her to leave a tip. She’ll smile and say “You pay next time”. Glad to know there will always be a next time, even though I know she will never let her little sister pay.