Opposite Siblings Attract
Being the baby of the family is awesome. The first child usually receives the brunt of the discipline as new moms and dads learn how to handle this new human thing in their lives. The second one tends to coast through childhood, whining and giving puppy dog eyes to the weakened parents, rewarded with treats and later, victories of freedom as a teenager. I had it pretty easy growing up, which is funny because I was definitely the naughty one.
My older sister followed all the rules (or got away with things much more gracefully than me, which is more likely). She had her whole life planned out at the mature age of 14. She knew exactly what she wanted to do and she got it done; went to college and majored in Biology, applied and got into her first choice graduate school, found and married the perfect guy for her at a young age with extremely little difficulty, graduated with her doctorate from University of Pacific at 25 years old, and became a physical therapist at a perfect, intimate clinic near her home. The day she decided she was ready to be a mom, it was a done deal. Her first beautiful son was born in April, the month she planned on based on the fact that no one else in the family had a birthday then. Yes, she did the same thing with her second son. She taught herself how to make French macaroons (who does that??), starting her own baking company in her “spare time” or as much spare time one can have while working full-time and raising two adorable monsters. My sister basically rocks everything she puts her mind to, a super hero in her own right.
We are pretty different. I got caught doing all kinds of irresponsible things growing up (when I was 20, I managed to earn four points on my driving record within one week, costing me my driver’s license for six months). I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life when I started my final year of college. I got married 7 years later in life than she did, much to my father’s chagrin (Pakistani women getting married after the age of 26 is very stressful to our poor parents. I held out for 29). I eventually got things somewhat together, but it’s interesting how dissimilar we are and how our relationship has evolved over time.
My first memories of my sister as a child were pretty typical. We took care of each other; she taught me how to read, I protected her by kicking 12 year old boys in the balls when they pretended to push her down a hill in elementary school. How was I supposed to know they were her friends… Anyway, we’re two and a half years apart, so when she hit her “I’m too cool for the world and nothing’s more important than my needs” stage, I thought she was dumb and we drifted apart. When she matured and I hit that stage not long after, she thought I was an idiot and we grew even more apart. I didn’t think we had anything in common and I’m sure she felt similarly.
After I graduated from college, I started working as an HR Assistant at a small distribution company near my childhood home in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. My dad was traveling to China a lot for work, so I was home alone often. Surprisingly, it got old pretty fast. I even adopted a cat, which helped for awhile but I’m not the tidiest person in the world and my allergies weren’t a big fan. Then one day, my sister and her husband invited me to live with them for awhile in Sacramento. She was pregnant with her first kid, and it was a great opportunity for me to help them out (along with providing me free room and board as I tried to figure out my career trajectory). Well, “awhile” turned into two years, which was probably one and a half years too long. My sister and I butted heads like none other, me with my passive aggressive tendencies, she confronting me frustrated when she got tired of my silent treatment, both of us ending up in tears (because that’s what we do, when we get mad we cry our eyes out).
In hindsight, I think it also brought us closer together. We understood each other better; how we think, how we make decisions, what we needed from each other. I love her, regardless of how much she used to nag me as an adolescent. She’s definitely the smart one and I’m lucky that regardless of how terribly self absorbed I was, she is always there for me, looking out for me, and lending a helping hand (she wraps my Christmas presents for me every year, the sweetheart). The evening before my wedding, she and her husband hosted an entire event in their backyard, complete with a newly constructed pergola (built by my brother-in-law himself!) and enough cake pops to feed the entire wedding guest list. She always includes me in her and her family’s lives by inviting me to all her Mom’s Club events, calling me and my husband on our birthdays with the kids singing/shouting the happy birthday song in our ears, and making sure I know that I’m an important part of her life.
I’m so very thankful to have her as my big sister and while I suck at saying it to her face, I can write it here for her to read:
I love you, Fatema! Thank you for being the best sister anyone could ever ask for. I’m truly lucky.
Love, your annoying little sister.