Claw marks and cuddles. I am pretty sure that is the short definition of sisters. Trust me, I know, I have two of them — sisters, that is, as well as my two girls, of course. And seriously, my girls are either going at it over something remarkably dumb or best friends bellowing out bursts of laughter in the bath. There really is no in between.
I remember when we found out that our youngest, Reagan, was a girl. So many people almost pitied Paul. Another girl? Sorry — you will just have to try again.
Me, I was ecstatic. Knowing we had only planned on two children, I was so excited that my kids were going to get to experience all the things that I have experienced with my sisters. They were going to have a best friend for life.
Clearly, I blocked out some parts of the childhood years. When Reagan goes at Maylie with her tiny but sharp nails, I can almost feel my sister’s grasp on my arm and remember those lasting red marks. When Maylie gets sick of her little sister always following her around, I can relate to those unwanted feelings that Reagan immediately feels.
As I hear another tattletale, another shriek of annoyance and another, “I had it first,” it all comes back to me. And while I always tell them that this is the only sister you have, I so badly want to sit them down and just dump all of my experiences — all that I have learned and loved with having sisters into their brains so they understand that having a sister is the best thing in the world.
As I mentioned before, I have the pleasure of having two sisters. Two very different sisters in so many ways and two very different relationships in so many ways. But both of them are exactly the type of person I have always needed.
Five years older than me, and turning the big 40 this year, I feel like Jen and I didn’t spend a lot of time together growing up. As the oldest, she had her own room and being only two years older than Nik, they had more friends in common and didn’t need a straggling little sis hanging around.
On the other hand, Nik had no choice. Ha! She had to share a room with me — even bunkbeds for a while — so she got to feel the bed shake every time I rolled from one side to the other while I slept. I annoyed the crap out of her. She was a neat freak, and I was always too busy to pick up after myself.
But at the end of the day, when the lights turned out and I wasn’t quite ready to sleep, I remember talking her ear off. Our pillow talk was my favorite; it was our quality time to just discuss our day or anything else that was on our mind. I will never forget it.
I remember missing that with Jen — longing for who that (much older ha!) person was down the hall. Then, college hit. And it was like I was reintroduced to my big sis. During a time where I was needing guidance, was trying to find myself and desperately sought advice, she was there.
Over the years, my relationships with both sisters strengthened. Becoming a mother before me, Nik has been my playdate partner and go-to on all things parenting. Just like we were raised, our kiddos are growing up with second best friends — their cousins (you know, pre-Covid-19) — which gives us a ton of time to chat and catch up on our busy lives. As my secret-telling sometimes scolder, Jen has become the one I can turn to for real tell-ya-like-it-is and love-you-through-it conversations. We share many of the same joys, friends and pastimes.
While both unique, the close and comfort of both of my relationships with my sisters is something I truly cherish and cannot compare to any other friendship. Sure, we have our tiffs — I mean, we are still sisters. But there are no worries. Even if we speak our minds, we are going to be friends. We are there for each other no matter what and no matter when.
It’s an unconditional love, the love between sisters, one that may have been forced on us as children but then blossomed into the most beautiful friendship as adults. And while I want to tell my girls all about it, I realized that it truly cannot be taught. It just has to be experienced.
And one day — through all the claw marks and cuddles — I truly hope my girls are as grateful as I am for their relationship with their sister.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.