“Sisterhood is a Journey” -Unknown

In July of 1984, I came into the world (honorably so of course) to be the belated 1st birthday gift to a little girl who otherwise would have lived a way too bland life (sans SHE-nanigans), with no appreciation for the finer things (like private living quarters), no master level experience in economic exchange (like bartering) and she most definitely would not be as refined in conflict resolution as she is today. All of this that I gave her, plus some supplemental but way less significant stuff (college, etc.) has afforded her the opportunity to have a very successful career in Human Resources and made her a very dynamic woman if I may say so myself.

RELATED READING :: Sisterhood

Sooooo yeah Sis, you’re welcome! Truly though, being a little sister was one of my greatest joys as a child and it was in those early years that I learned how to be loyal, how to be loving, how to be a friend, so also I’d be remiss to not say Thank You to my first best friend and roommate for playing a part in who I am and what I value today as a woman and mother of daughters. With that, I’d love to share some stuff I’ve learned along our journey that I hope will help other women trying to navigate this in their own sibling relationships or in their homes.

My Mirror

I think my favorite part of having a sister pre-teenage years was companionship. It is a seemingly impossible scenario to recreate with anyone else making it even more precious to reflect on. As with a mirror, no one will ever be closer to myself, looking back at me with a shared history, genetic makeup and the unfiltered depth that comes with being a witness to who I have become and what shaped me. My mom dressed us alike every chance she got and even though we both favor a different parent, I could always see myself in her. It is said that I literally couldn’t wait to do the things she was doing; walk, tie my shoes, read, jump rope, climb a tree- you name it- if she did it, I knew I could do it and I did. This worked out for her since I like to tease that she never REALLY had a little sister since we were basically doing everything at the same time, to which she replies “Yeah I had you trained pretty well”! Around ages 7 or 8 we noticed that our mom and aunt spoke their own “sister language” and so we created our own too and used it for years! My sister and I talked about everything, the past, the future and everything in between, we woke up and fell asleep talking and laughing (sometimes with penalty) into the night. We spent a lot of time together, we didn’t have a lot of extra things growing up so we were constantly coming up with ideas and activities to do to stay busy. We were inseparable, even though I was the feistier one of the two of us, neither of us would abandon the other for fun or fight- we were a two for one special and it felt great to never feel alone. I remember having so much confidence going into middle school (when everyone else seemed so unsure of themselves) because well, I already had a best friend just one grade up! I didn’t feel the pressures to pretend to be anything less/more than I was in order to make friends. In fact all of her friends adopted me so not only was I really soaking up the cute little sis love coming my way but also how proud she was to BE my sister around her peers.

The hardest part during this time for me was when she hit puberty and I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t even care about any of that stuff, it was the 90’s, I was giving TLC Tomboy vibes and a lot of my friends were still equal if not mostly boys, so I had no desire to have curves or want any of that weird attention that came with it…but here I was for the first time feeling envy towards her, my sister! I didn’t know how to work through that, I imagine she didn’t either. It manifested into an ongoing argument that hurt my feelings and made me feel less of a girl… and even though our personalities and styles were already so different, it made me feel less like her and for the first time, insecure about that.

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double.”- Toni Morrison

One thing that really stood out to me is that my mom sat us down and talked with us about different body types, how to celebrate each other’s growths (even physical ones) and the importance of not letting anything irrelevant (like appearance, talent, accolades etc.) change our relationship. She reminded us that the way we show love IS our choice and that we’ve always known how to treat and talk to each other. I have been teaching this to my oldest daughters from an early age as well in hopes that they will be confident in themselves, with their differences (amplified because they are identical twins) and in their relationship with one another.

Hindsight Highlight

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would share about the teenage years and about all the things that I felt as a sister and how some of those ideas changed the way that I viewed sisterhood for the next 15 years. I was leaning into why it was so difficult for me to put that into words and present it in a way that was both truthful and fair- knowing what I now know and growing how I have grown. So I want to share one of the mis-”sis”-conceptions that I had to break down to heal from my perception of those years. This has undoubtedly restored the foundation that I needed to rekindle my appreciation for the gift of sisterhood which extends to the sisterly bonds of friendship.

Grace before Grief

Naturally we take up so much space in the lives of our immediate family and this was especially true in my house with it being just the two of us and our mom- my sister was IT for me. My personal pioneer navigating the world before me and I was counting on her to leave the bread crumbs, light the path for me, because well… she always had. I wasn’t prepared to watch her struggle with social issues or to be quiet about it. Limited by my own immaturity, I couldn’t find it in me to be supportive of anything I didn’t understand (which was a lot prepubescence) and that put a strain on our relationship. I held onto the ideal that in these teenage years SHE stopped being a good sister, never considering that I may have stopped being a good one to her. What could that have looked like if while everything through her eyes was changing, I had been a familiar place of solitude, encouragement and empowerment? Forgetting that at the time I took up the same precious space in her life that she did in mine and giving her grace to find her place instead of so much grief when she made mistakes could have served us both better.

 

Drama and Depreciation

We are an emotional species, even if not outwardly our feelings towards old ideas and people can take dramatic turns, dips and climbs. My sister and I share the not so shiny personality trait of sometimes being melodramatic, so we spent a good portion of our twenties in a tempestuous and seemingly irreparable cycle. We weren’t trying to love each other, we didn’t like each other and we didn’t know each other anymore. This was obviously not ideal but based on our blame perspectives, neither of us saw value in Sisterhood. This thrust me into an unhealthy standard for female relationships because honestly if I wouldn’t be inconvenienced by personality differences for my own flesh and blood, I wouldn’t be willing to fairly do that for anyone. After all, my expectations for lasting friendships with women had been damaged and similar to a trauma of any asset the value had been drastically depreciated by the drama in my first one. When we can’t find balance in even the closest relationships, it is hard to stay in them. Familial relationships are not immune to the ugliness of that process. The tension that builds from unresolved arguments can make interactions feel forced, guarded and ultimately dreadful. So in pursuit of peace, boundaries and whatever we feel like the relationship brings out in us that we don’t like- we choose a narrative that justifies our position and we abandon the relationship. This feels necessary and sometimes it is, but it is also hard to recover from because well this “cutting of ties” response is not about reconciliation- this is an act of self-love, self-preservation and the decision that this act of severance is for the greater good. As a mom, I can only imagine how hard it was for our mom to bear witness to it all, to be referee between girls that could not once be apart yet helplessly hope that one day we would CHOOSE to be together in the same space (physically, in the same place (harmoniously). There are no pictures from this stage. It was ugly. It seemed our once indissoluble friendship was a thing of the past.

“Sisterhood and brotherhood are conditions people have to work at. It’s a serious matter. You compromise, you give, you take, you stand firm, and you’re relentless…And it is an investment.”- Maya Angelou

Biologically speaking, my sister and I are bound together by our proximity to the same group of people and the shared childhood experiences that come with. Our stories are connected from the very beginning and we have a sort of birthright to the relationship. However at some point, we take responsibility as the authors of those stories which means it also falls on us to keep the characters going as we write new chapters. If we take advantage, we are called to evolve our relationships with our gifted family and I now believe that THIS is where the bond takes place. I am bound to my sister based on the fact that she was my first friend, binds can be broken because for me, they are based on fate and circumstance. The bond I have with my sister has everything to do with the connection that we share and is based on the choice that we make to be forever friends. As most of us have figured out by now, relationships WILL have “Good, Bad and Ugly” moments, but these moments can facilitate growth and fortify the foundation. For me this looks likes constantly leaning in, listening and loving my sister with the same zeal as I once did. To seek to learn the new language of our Sisterhood and to cherish the parts of the woman and mother that I am that are a reflection of something that she imparted upon me.

 

Cheers to these Adult years

We made it! Some people aren’t surprised because after all we’re sisters. If you’re a sister though, or if you’re raising sisters, you know that this took effort! She has stood with me at almost every big moment in my life. We don’t miss a beat when we’re together- we are laughing (often loudly) and we are cheering each other on in life. We are still very different and that’s perfectly ok, I’m glad that I realized that before we lost any more years being distant. She is one of the most resilient and independent women that I know. She is special and even though I came into this world as a gift to her. She will always be a treasure to me.

So to all the Sisters, those gifted from above and those chosen with love, Happy National Sisters Day! May we truly celebrate each other always!

 

Yuri Kendrick is a native Texan and has called the Greater Austin area home for most of her life. She is unashamedly a follower of Christ and a devoted wife to her favorite human and hubbeau, Tay. Together they are nurturing four beautiful souls, this she believes is her greatest honor in this life. She is a freelance creative, a worship leader, and a willing advocate for any cause that helps us all love one another better. Yuri loves so many things but maybe nothing more than a good laugh, a good meal and good conversation and she rightfully rejoices in the occasion that they occur simultaneously. Whether speaking or writing, she prides herself on being a genuine and conscious sharer. It is her heart's desire to be ever-evolving in her journeys with a passion to be both the “Salt and Light” along the way.

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