Typically, I use this weekly column to address parenting issues, reflect on challenges faced by (fairly) new moms and provide what I hope are amusing anecdotes that stem from daily life encounters with a toddler. This Sunday, though, I’m going to explore a topic that’s more indirectly related to — but still very much a part of — child-rearing.
If all has gone as planned, as my readers enjoy this column on Sunday, I’m on my way back from St. Louis, Missouri, where I’ve spent the weekend celebrating my sister’s wedding. Although my younger sibling is not yet a mother, I can tell she’ll soon make a great one; plus, she’s had a huge hand in helping me be the best mom I can be.
My sister, Lacey, may live several states away, but she’s an integral part of my support system. As is the case with many tight-knit sibling pairs, I often feel like she’s right there with me, helping me make daily parenting decisions, laughing with me through the chaos and worrying about pretty much anything that threatens to complicate my 2-year-old daughter’s life.
Aside from my mom, Lacey is the first person I come to for advice, the first person I share cute toddler stories with, the first person I vent to when things get tough, the first person I text adorable photos to and the first person I rush to call with news — good or bad. If it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, then she’s the mayor pro tem of my little toddler-rearing village. I, of course, am the mayor.
Well, I suppose my husband and I are co-mayors. Or perhaps he’s the mayor pro tem and my sister is the county-commission chairwoman. You catch my drift, I’m sure.
In addition to supporting — and sometimes carrying — me through this little motherhood experiment I’m currently navigating, Lacey is a fantastic aunt to my daughter, Reese. She sends care packages and cards all the time, talks with Reese on the phone at least once a week, emails me daily to ask about her and insists on helping to plan family visits several times a year.
My little girl is crazy about her aunt and often asks to see her “right now.” Those requests tug at my heartstrings, and I sometimes struggle to explain to Reese that even though family members love and help each other, they can’t always be together all the time. As it stands, though, I’d say my clan does a pretty good job of keeping in touch.
I know I can’t be the only mom out there who heavily relies on a sister or brother for support and assistance. The amazing bond shared by siblings — one that is based on the same upbringing, memories, morals, values and lessons learned — is one that feels so natural, it’s as if no work is required to maintain it.
Sure, Lacey and I make communication a priority, but if several weeks were to pass when we both were too busy to touch base, it would change nothing. Even if we’re able to see each other in person only a couple times a year, it’s as if no time at all has passed since we last giggled, told stories and reminisced together.
My sister can get me laughing like no one else can, and I’m comfortable sharing my deepest fears and concerns with her.
So, this weekend, as my sister and her lucky new husband exchange vows, I want to acknowledge all the siblings out there who, without even thinking about it, selflessly lend a hand to help care for children who aren’t theirs.
Sometimes, circumstances dictate that aunts and uncles raise their nieces and nephews as their own. Sometimes, they just take an active supporting role.
Whatever the case, the parents of the world sure are grateful to have these tireless supporters in our corner.
And, when my sister becomes the wonderful mom I know she’ll be, it’ll be my turn to step up and repay the favor. And rest assured, I’ll be up to the task.