How My Sister Paved The Way For Me

For as long as I can remember, my older sister has been my hero. A role model 11 years older than me, she’s the one I turn to when life doesn’t follow the prearranged script in my head. My mom was a wonderful woman, but she didn’t like to acknowledge the ugly, disappointing things in life. While sister may not enjoy the tough times, she always gets through them with kindness, grace, and dignity.

Between dealing with a persistent stalker, having her house burn down, and fighting a rare, nasty form of breast cancer, my big sister has had more than her share of heartache. Through it all, she’s taught me how to look life’s hardships in the eye without begging for mercy or turning mean and bitter.

A huge challenge we both had to face was when my nephew was diagnosed with several psychological/mood disorders at age three. I watched my sister take his unimaginably difficult behavior in stride and never stop fighting for the help and treatment her son needed. What neither of us knew at the time was that she was teaching me how to parent my own emotionally challenged child.

We’re at a good place right now, but I can’t begin to describe how hard my son’s first decade was. What stands out, however, is that I would not have known how to parent him if my sister had not modeled it for me. Thanks to her, I recognized the behavior when I saw it, and I was much more familiar with the resources available to me than most people are. I knew how to talk to doctors, and I knew how to negotiate an individualized education program. Most of all, though, I knew how to recognize that the situation was harder on my son than it was on me.

My sister also taught me that “love” and “like” are two very different things — that “like” is a feeling while “love” is an actionable choice. She showed me that a person can choose to love even when like seems out of reach.

Thanks to my big sister so gracefully traveling the road before me, today I can say that I not only love my son, but I like him a lot, too.

Image source: Flickr