I have the (dis)pleasure of having three younger siblings. No, it truly is a wonderful thing. We ACTUALLY like each other, love comes naturally with shared blood, but I really like these blockheads. I was definitely put on this earth to be the oldest/big sister. I am independent, strong-willed, passionate, let me tell you more about myself? For the first 11 years of my life, there was the trifecta, myself, my brother Chandler (3 years younger), and Chase (5 years younger). Everybody fit their role. Chandler was the sweet, sensitive, peacemaking "goes with the flow" (as in, years of me dressing him as a sister and me constantly instilling in him that he was a gift from the Chancellor of Sweden), middle child. Chase was the earth-shatteringly loud, attention-seeking, trying-to-keep up baby of the family. Each one of us fed off of each other and were always each other's best friends. I cannot count all the times we all almost choked each other to death, screamed until we could not talk for a week, or made our Mom hide from us in fear of her sanity. But, we loved being with each other.
I will never forget moments like: When I got too close to a neighborhood boy who was at bat during a street-baseball game and I got smacked right in the head; and Chandler, pipsqueak little guy no more than 4-5 years old, runs up to him, grabs his shirt and demands him to say sorry to me OR When Chase let me borrow his clothes because all of mine were dirty, and he didn't complain when I just kept all his Levis in my room. We could play endlessly, or at least I could make them pawns in my endless adventures (schemes).
The Christmas of 2002 is when the news arrived that my Mom was PREGNANT. I could not even wrap my brain around the idea of some little sea monkey coming along and being a part of our family. I was so upset and confused for about a month. To this day I cannot really pin why I was so against the new addition. Eventually though, it clicked. What if it was a sister? I prayed and prayed for a sister each time my Mom was pregnant- I was pretty sure this was my answer.
Sure enough, Carlie emerged into the world and she was (and still is) perfect. We could not have been luckier to have her. Since there is such a major age gap, especially between her and I, each year she grew, she took on traits of all of us. Although she is the baby, she also is very much a first-born. All of our eccentricities rubbed off on her and created a fantastic Frankenstein of a sister (I mean that in the best of ways).
Together as siblings and friends we have gone through a lot. This is not the appropriate time or outlet for an in-depth discussion on the matter, but within the last 5 years our parents got divorced; But we did not get divorced. Instead of lashing out, abandoning, or sinking into discord, we sealed our bond of love, friendship, and loyalty. I say this to my parents and to all parents, be thankful of your children. Parents are there to guide us, teach us, and love us but their children aren't for nothing. My siblings are beautiful examples of wit, intelligence, happiness, and solidarity. If anything they most certainly can take charge in guiding and teaching our parents and reminding them of how powerful family is. My brothers and sister know and do come to me with anything, and we always have one another as a safe haven. I'd be on a plane in a minute if they needed anything. Nothing/nobody is more important or vital to my existence than my siblings. Whenever I am home, I savor the moments we all pile onto the bed and talk, even when it's painful. We are each other's only solace and that is very precious.
I write all of this because it is necessary to share and procure gratitude for those we love. I often feel guilty or disconnected by being so far away from them. My natural instinct is to want to take care of them, be with them, and never let a second go by where they don't know that I am always there for them. These past few years have been a trial of not only dealing with a familial shift but also just plain growing up. I left and now graduated college, Chandler is graduating high school, Chase is nearing his end of high school, and Carlie is entering middle school. These milestones are monumental in our growth into the future. Things are no longer us at home waiting for Mom to cook dinner or summertime days where we could spend endless hours doing nothing but laughing. Instead of mourning the loss of years past, I am excited albeit a little freaked out to see them continue to grow and us grow up together.
Now for the meat and potatoes of it all...Even though I am the oldest and surely have taught plenty to my siblings and set a multitude of precedents, I have learned an incredible amount of wisdom from them:
Chandler is always level-headed and thoughtful. Whenever I am feeling fired up or angry, I go to him and he will lend to what would be appropriate or not to act upon. He knows when to keep his mouth shut and when to speak up. He has always been wise beyond his years. He was reading the Dictionary by the time he was in Kindergarten. I cannot even believe that now he is graduating high school and is of-age. It almost grosses me out. Now as we are equals, we really rely on our friendship. All of our deepest thoughts and confusions are laid out in front of one another. I trust him more than anyone and definitely deem him worthy of being the replacement older sibling while I am away.
Chase is always boosting morale. He has an innate way to know if you are having a day where you feel fat or ugly, he will make sure to tell you how beautiful and wonderful you are. He has a strong understanding of emotions (not always his own) but he can analyze and offer advice and compassion at any hour. He really loves to have fun and be the life of the party. I rarely ever see him carrying a "dont talk to me" attitude. He is the first to ask to go out and do something. I will say that he drives me the craziest but whenever he is not he is the first I call to tell every stupid story (like how much money I spent on jeans) and laugh about inside jokes we have.
Carlie is just the light of the world. She is a caretaker. She always makes sure everyone is taken care of before herself. She is the first to share if someone needs something. But the most important thing I have learned from her, at her ripe age of 10, is self-respect. Numerous times she has come home and told me how girls would say she dressed strangely or was weird, and just as my blood was about to boil out of my veins, she would let me know she simply and confidently responds, "I'm awesome." And she is. I truly look up to her. There is a strength within her that is of Joan of Arc. I wish she could be a baby forever but I will learn to cope with that impossibility.
I am eternally grateful to have three crazy, beautiful, and delicious siblings. Nothing and nobody can remove us from one another, and if something starts to, there is enough of us to gang up on that. Strength in numbers. Bottom line, I'll knock ya daylights out if you mess with my pups.