A few weeks ago I got a call.
It was my baby sister and she had big news.
I squealed and screamed. Then I told my 8 year-old and 3 year-old girls. They squealed and screamed. I screamed, they screamed, we all screamed for Aunt Rachel’s impending baby! I think I even jumped up and down.
After I remembered that I was a grown woman with four children and not a 6th grade girl, I calmed down and got to the business of details. When did
she and her husband find out? How far along was she? How did my parents react when they heard the news? How was she feeling? Was she drinking plenty of water? Did she have a doctor appointment lined up?
I tried to ask these questions as if she were one of my long-time girlfriends and not my little sister. Despite the fact that she’s all grown up (and has been for awhile) I still have to bite my tongue to keep from whipping out the bossy big-sister talk whenever we’re together. And, man! Not sounding like a bossy big sister is hard. I always feel so awkward. Frankly, I would be a lot more comfortable if she would let me pretend that she’s still three, I’m nine and our parents have put me “in charge” . No, that would never work. She’s almost six feet tall after all, and I’m built a little closer to the pavement. I just don’t think I can make her mind me anymore.
So I listened to her excited chatter and worked in a question here and there. With strenuous effort I kept myself from rattling off a list of things she needed to do and and things she needed to avoid, like immediately. Truly, I don’t think I offered more than two pieces of unsolicited advice before she laid the real shocker on me. (You should make sure you’re sitting down before you read this next part.)
My baby sister, my only sister, said to me, “Any advice you have to share, just feel free!”
I didn’t speak. I was groping for a paper bag, trying to control my breathing.
“Really?” I gasped
“Yeah, I’m totally new at this. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Seriously, anything you think of, just shoot off an e-mail, text me, give me a call…you know…”
There were no paper bags. I threw open the door and stepped outside for fresh air. Oxygen flow restored, I felt the need to caution her. It just seemed fair.
“Uh, do you realize what you’ve just said? ”
“No, seriously, you’ve just told me, your older sister, to give any advice, any time I feel like it!”
I think she laughed. Yeah, I’m pretty sure she laughed.
I was giddy for days. My little sister was having a baby and she had asked me to give advice, anytime.
Well, that was a few weeks ago and in the meantime I have packed up one townhome and with my family moved out of state into a new town home, unpacked, set up house and started the new homeschool year with a third-grader, first-grader, pre-schooler and infant.
Every day I think of a little something that I want to tell my sister. Sometimes it’s associated with a sweet memory from one of my own pregnancies, another time it might be something not-so-sweet that I wished I had known. Now that my days are a little more settled, I find myself mulling longer over these thoughts and really longing to share with her. But as much as I want to call her every day and bossily ask her precisely how much water she has drunk so far and if she’s taken her pre-natal vitamin and remind her that daily exercise is really helpful, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Not every single day. Not several times every single day when I think of these things.
I need some kind of dumping ground for all the advice and memories piled up inside, so it’s going here, on this blog in a “Dear Rachel” category. It’s the perfect solution. I get it out of my system and she can decide when she’s had enough without having to screen my calls! Brilliant.
PS: Don’t think for a minute that I’m not still calling and texting her.