Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Siblings

We've been running a column series (for two years now!) to get more personal with our readers. Since a lot of books focus on sibling relationships, we decided to talk about that this month, as it applies to our own lives.

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

In case you missed our "About Us" page updates, check them out here. Due to Sara handling a lot more than book reviews, she is front and center with Melissa now. We also have a new review associate and a section to honor everyone who has contributed in the past.

Melissa Amster:                                                                                                       
I have a younger sister. We're three years apart and our birthdays are relatively close. As a result, we usually celebrated them together when we had family birthday gatherings. We spent a lot of time playing together as kids. Our favorite thing to do was play Barbies (or Bribes, as she called them; see more about that, along with other fun memories, here) for hours on end. We invented this whole world for them and even had villains. As we got older, we shared other interests, like V.C. Andrews books, Disney movies, Broadway musicals, etc. When I was a senior and she was a freshman, I would drive her to and from school every day. We'd listen to the Joseph cast recording a lot. Later, we both became obsessed with Rent and would memorize the cast recording together, as well as spend an entire day waiting in the cold for $20 front row seats. We also share a love for the movie Sing (from 1989). Now that we are adults, our lives look a lot different, but I'm thankful that we always stay in contact with each other. Last summer, I was thrilled to see her get married to her besherte. Overall, my sister is really cool and I'm always going to be her cheerleader!

At my sister's rehearsal dinner, July 2021

Upon getting married, I have acquired a set of siblings through my husband. He has a younger brother, and they are definitely different as can be. You wouldn't know they were related if you saw them standing together. His brother is more observant than we are, but we got a lot of our inspiration to be observant from him. While I don't see us fitting into his community, he's genuinely nice and has a great sense of humor. His wife (my sister-in-law) is also wonderful and I've enjoyed getting to know her these past 19 years. We usually call each other on Friday afternoon to wish each other "Shabbat Shalom" and catch up on things. 

My husband has two half-sisters who are a lot younger than us. When we first met them, they were eight and four and stood up as flower girls in our wedding the following year. They're now adults and over time, I've become closer with the older of the two. She's a mom now and we talk about parenting, share humorous memes, etc. She recently met someone special and I couldn't be happier for her! The younger of the two is also nice and has a lot of good things going in her life, which I'm also happy about. 

Speaking of acquired siblings, I also have a new brother-in-law, now that my sister is married. I have only met him for a short time in person, when we went to their wedding. However, we saw him a lot on video chats prior to that time, so I felt like we already knew him pretty well. He's really friendly and I know he's a big Star Wars fan who likes to play hockey. He also makes me look like less of a picky eater. :) I hope we'll continue getting to know him more over time, but I'm just thrilled that he makes my sister the happiest she's ever been. 

Last, but certainly not least, is my best friend, whom I think of as a sister. We met almost 35 years ago and have been close ever since. We have our share of disagreements (as related siblings would), but we always manage to virtually hug and make up and we end each week with "I love you" messages via gifs. We were both in the room where it happened...when we witnessed each other get set up with our beshertes, and both were through connections the other had (I met my husband through some friends of hers and she met hers through a friend of mine). We stood up in each others' weddings, as well!

Sara Steven:                                                                                                                                   
When I first considered writing my siblings post, I figured I’d write about my sister. She’s pretty amazing, anyway, making it an easy topic. But what’s been on my mind a lot lately is the relationship my two sons have with one another, and the ties that bind them–or the arguments that at times seem to drive them apart. 
We jokingly blame my eldest son for blessing us with our little guy–which, let’s face it, isn’t so little anymore. He’ll be twelve this year. We thought for sure we were having a girl, considering how vastly different my pregnancy was the second time around. But the eldest said he’d prayed for a brother, and when my obstetrician revealed to us that I was indeed carrying another boy, I said, “I think you’re wrong.” And he replied: “I’ll bet all of my diplomas you see hanging on the wall behind me, that you’re having a boy.” And a boy it was!

There have been many stages in my sons’ lives where I’ve pondered over the kind of relationship they’d have. At first, it was shortly after the little guy was born. My two sons are nearly six years apart in age, and that worried me. I wondered if my eldest would want to spend time with a baby who couldn’t do any of the “cool” things he’d want him to do, like play with Legos or make-believe pretend scenarios with digger trucks. When I flash back to those days, one of my home movies comes to mind; a rainy day where we were cooped inside, and both boys were banging on pots and pans with plastic utensils. At that time, the big guy was maybe six, and the little guy was still in diapers, but was old enough to sit and understand that if he’d follow along with what his brother was doing, he’d create beautiful music. 

The next stage I wondered about was when the little guy would enter kindergarten, while the eldest started sixth grade. It was the one and only year the boys would be in school together, at the same time. By then, they were obsessed with online gaming, and of course whatever big brother played, little brother wanted to play, too, even if it wasn’t age-appropriate. This was around the time when fights would break out over toys that were touched and played with, without permission, or how “he keeps copying me on everything,” and how they wouldn’t leave each other alone when they wanted space. 

The fights and arguments have continued on throughout the other phases; when the big guy turned into a teenager in what felt like an overnight experience, or when the little guy entered double digits. There are fights and arguments, but there is a lot of love, too. Even if neither of them want to admit to it. For a few years, they were both involved in making videos, coming up with all sorts of crazy scenarios they could enact, together. When the little guy broke his wrist when he fell off a bike, my eldest son did everything he could to calm and soothe his little brother on the drive to the emergency room. Now that the little guy is on the cusp of teenagerdom, it’s obvious that they both have their own separate interests, and they don’t always spend as much time together. And the biggest phase of all is coming: when my eldest graduates from high school next year, and possibly heads off to college somewhere, no longer living at home with us. I’ve always been concerned about the type of relationship they’d have with their large age gap, but I think I like the type of relationship they have. For the most part, they respect one another, they communicate well, and from time to time, it appears they genuinely appreciate spending time together. Maybe in the not so distant future, there will be a time when the little guy gets to visit his big brother–something I can’t really fathom right now, but considering how quickly it’s all happened, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. When it come right down to it, they have each other’s backs–just like siblings should. 

Do you have any siblings? If so, we'd love to hear about your relationship. If not, please tell us what it's like to be an only child or the friends you think of as siblings.

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1 comment:

Daal said...

great post! my experience with my siblings was never great, but I was definitely grateful that they were there to soak up some of my parents' attention lol