When I think back to my childhood, most of my mind revolves around time spent with my brother and sister. Ahhhhhh, such memories; some that are fond, some that are ridiculous and some that haunt me (Don’t think I forgot you two told me I kind of looked like an ostrich; deep down I know you were just jealous of my legs and amazing dance moves, right?)! Anyway, we all know that siblings love hard, but can fight hard, too. And oh, we did! I was the baby of the family, which meant I saw what my brother and sister did and tried to do it even bigger and better; but, they usually got into trouble more often since I was the youngest. It drove them nuts! I can’t blame them. Yet, ultimately, I love how we have always had each other’s backs, literally and figuratively, like during choke holds and hair noogies and wrestling matches where we genuinely wanted to kill each other. Seriously though (ok, I know serious is hard for me sometimes…lol), at the end of the day, it all came from a good place; I truly do love our dynamic and our tight family bond, which has only strengthened over the years.
My sister and I grew closer the more time we spent apart. Interesting, right? When together, we drove each other crazy most of the time, but as we got older and set out on our own paths, experienced more of the ups and downs of life, got married, had kids, we leaned on each other and helped each other and appreciated each other more. We have this unspoken bond; we may not text or talk every day, but we know we are always there for each other and can pick right back up where we left off. And, if we annoy each other at any particular time, we just let some more time pass to take the edge off before getting that loving sister train back on the tracks.
With National Siblings Day upon us this April, I just feel somehow that now is an appropriate time to
embarrass honor my sister, thank her, apologize to her and reminisce about the good old days. So here it goes, an open letter to my big sister…
I know I’ve probably already ticked you off this early in the letter by calling you Jenni. And by posting old pictures of us. But, it’s a challenge for me to call you Jen because while growing up I always called you Jenni. I screamed “Jenni!” when we were fighting, I cried when telling our parents “Jenni did it” and used “Jenni” when my friends at school asked about you. It’s just habit now; at least I don’t ever say your name like Forrest Gump did with that big ol’ twangy accent. So see? An upside!
That topic aside, let’s start off on the right foot by clearing the elephant out of the room. Ok, ok, I apologize for going through your diary when we were younger and making fun of you and your boyfriends. And snitching to Mom about some things. On the bright side, look at how amazing you turned out. You excel each and every day in your education career, and more importantly, as a mom to two beautiful boys and a loving wife to your college sweetheart. My snitching could have very well rescued you and got you back on the right path in life. So…you’re welcome! Baby sister saves the day (ting goes the halo above my head…or maybe that was just the head piece in my First Communion picture above).
Next, let’s reflect on some of my favorite memories of us growing up together, things like going on vacations, playing sports, trimming the grass out back around the landscaping accents (thanks, Dad!) and jumping up and down on the bed in our Wonder Woman and Catwoman underwear. Meeeeoooow! Or sporting those treacherously, beautifully awful “bob” haircuts together…or the even more horridly entertaining “mullet” hairdos. Or the big curly perms. Mom, we love you to pieces, but our hair was hideous. It may be the one thing Jenni and I agree on in this lifetime. See, Mom, you brought us closer together with our bone to pick with you about our hair.
So, to continue, Jenni, I know being the middle child was hard. Well, I guess I don’t really know since I was the last born and the precious baby of the family. Seriously though, I understand attention would often gravitate towards our big brother or me, and you were sandwiched in the middle. Wait, who am I writing this letter to again? Just kidding! Awww, chin up, tiger. You know that middle children are elite; you are proof of that! But not as elite as this picture of me as a terrified little girl with a cat…does this make you feel a little better about the underwear pic I posted above? Didn’t think so, but it was worth a try, right?
Anyhoo, I’m not sure if you were crazy about people thinking we were twins back in the day. We are only 1 ½ years apart in age, so I guess it wasn’t too far off for people to think that. Let me tell you, if people thought I was your twin, that was a compliment! Except if you were wearing that one pair of really thick glasses…thank goodness for contacts, right? All the giggles. To this day I still crack up thinking about the time we went to a Chinese restaurant and the host immediately greeted us with a big smile and excitedly said, “Sisters! Sisters!”
Do you remember the time you were upset at me for something (geez, I cannot imagine why you would be; it’s like you thought I went through your diary or something) and screamed, “I’m going to pull your hair!” But then two seconds later you were the one shrieking, “Help! Aaaahhh! SHE’S PULLING MY HAIR!” (By the way, just to refresh your memory, the “she” in that statement is yours truly; see, you taught me how to be proactive and not put up with doo doo from anyone, including you!). Or who can forget the time there was a wasp in the house and you were screaming and panicking, and I slapped you across the face so you could snap out of it and come back to planet Earth. Ha ha ha. That was funny. Whew, this reminiscing about the good old days is making my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
Jenni, I forgive you for occasionally stealing, I mean, borrowing my clothes in high school. I was kind of your pesky, annoying shadow always following you and asking questions, so I guess you taking my clothes was a fair tradeoff. In hindsight it was so minor, but it was one of the things that inspired me to write; you know I always wrote funny stories as a way to cope with my frustrations. So thank you for the inspiration!
I hope you can forgive me for being a terrible Maid of Honor back in the day. Oh, boy, I had no clue what I was supposed to do for your wedding and all the pre-wedding festivities, and didn’t realize it until I was older and it was too late. Sure, I showed up and wore the dress you picked out (Picky me actually liked it!) and cried with happiness about you and your hubby tying the knot; yet, I overlooked some of the fun details that would have made your momentous occasion even more memorable. I was young and ignorant; I regret not spoiling you more and doing all the fun things a Maid of Honor should do. I wish I could make it up to you! So, if you ever want a big bachelorette night out on the town, or a police officer stripper during your lunch break, or something crazy like that, let me know! I will record it all and post it on social media as well. Just kidding…it will be our little secret!
On another serious note, I hope you know that I learned a lot about being a mom by watching you. I first learned to love the idea of having kids through you and your boys. See, it started out where I was just the “cool Aunt” and I would spoil your boys, play with them and give them back to you (haha), but you showed me the special bond that exists with a mom and her children, and you demonstrated how rewarding that caring, loving, nurturing and giving your all to these beautiful little humans of ours can be. You exuded what being a good, loving, responsible mom looks like. (Don’t worry Mom, you obviously did, too! #momofthecentury). Jenni, you are a rock for your family; I respect and admire how you give your all to them and expect very little in return. Which is why I reiterate, if you ever want a police officer stripper…let me know and I will jump to arrange that. You’ve earned it!
You have also taken care of your little sister by giving my little guy All. The. Hand-me-downs. Thank yoooouuuuu! I may not have always realized what those meant at the time, or the gobs of money you saved me on toys and clothing, but I do now (it’s an incredible amount). And in your honor, I pay your generosity forward to my friends by giving them toys and games and clothing…and occasionally also place items at the curb for whomever wants to drive by and snatch up some supreme tantalizing toddler toy deliciosity!
Sista, I may not openly announce you are my best friend for fear you will cut me, but you are indeed a best friend for life. I know you do not always understand me, that you think I am crazy/crazed, that I embarrass you sometimes, that I dress differently, that I am always annoyingly and incessantly talking about CrossFit/exercise, and am overall beyond unrefined and totally opposite of you. Yet, I also know you love me unconditionally and will always have my back…and I will always have yours! Just don’t leave your diary unattended…