I remember getting the word. I was sitting outside on a lounge chair, enjoying some alone time and fresh air as nausea lingered in my bones. And then the phone rang. “Do you want to know the sex of the baby?” the nurse asked. “Sure,” I replied. With three kids already — two boys and then a girl — my intuition told me it was a boy. “It’s a… little girl!” she said gleefully. Oh sh*t, I thought. Sisters.
As the oldest with two younger brothers, I do not have a personal sisterly experience. While most of my sisterless friends often expressed a want for that kind of relationship, I did not. I thoroughly enjoyed being the queen bee of my childhood, and every sister relationship around me looked like more of a headache than a blessing. Even through most of my adulthood, the sister relationships around me seemed complicated and loaded. And to be honest, I didn’t have any interest in dealing with that in my nuclear family.
But two years into raising sisters and nine years into mothering alongside women with sisters and I may have changed my mind. Because although the relationship still seems complicated, I think the built-in life support it affords might outweigh all of that.
Hopefully, my girls will find incredible allies in one another. As they grow up in this current social and political climate that is not always rewarding to women (to say the least), they can lean on one another for support and guidance. They can create a safe space for understanding and validation where they share their unknowns, fears, and insecurities. I would have significantly benefited from a sister during some of my more embarrassing, troublesome adolescent experiences.
A sister can also be uniquely empathic support as you trudge through life’s big events. With family deaths, pregnancy complications, and motherhood traumas, a sister could walk alongside you with steady support. Not requiring a sameness of any kind, but rather a deep understanding of your roots and life experience that would allow for maximum comfort.
And there is something about mothering alongside a sister that seems particularly special. Loving one another’s kids in a specific unique way and sharing the burden of the day-to-day, and allowing yourself the freedom to ask for help when necessary without the same guilt associated with other family or friends. Sisters often seem able to seamlessly step in for one another in different circumstances, knowing each other in a way that most others may not.
So while I spent most of my life feeling thankful for my sister-less existence, the last few years of life and motherhood have given me a deeper appreciation and wishfulness for that bond as I move into the later stages of life. I feel grateful that although my girls will inevitably hit some rough patches and brawl over a coveted jacket or turn with the car, they will have a deep appreciation for one another later in life. Because while friends and other family members can be essential in someone’s support system, a healthy sisterhood feels especially great.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.