Redefining sisterhood: Unexpected change leads to closer familial bond

December 4, 2016 — by Spring Ma

Senior talks about her siblings.

“Family first” is practically an understatement in my family — it’s become a lifestyle. My Instagram account is populated with dozens of cute pictures of my 7-year-old sister Addison as well as nostalgic selfies with my 20-year-old sister Grace. They are practically my best friends, but it hasn’t always been this way.

When I was younger, Grace and I were practically attached at the hip. There are very few pictures of me alone during the first decade of my life: Most of the time, I was either photobombing Grace’s pictures or posed in a symmetrical stance next to her.

Naturally, my older sister’s presence in my life shaped my childhood and eventually the person I am today. Though she is three years older, I participate in the same activities as she did in high school, whether it is coordinating ASB events, running the news section for the school newspaper or captaining the SHS badminton team.

Some even say our voices sound alike over the announcements — just ask AP Computer Science teacher Debra Troxell, who sometimes calls me Grace during class (though she claims it’s always on accident).

We are not like typical sisters (some would argue we’re practically twins) but for the first 10 years of my life, this is what defined “sisterhood” to me: open closets with free clothes, daily advice and gossip sessions in our shared room. I was known by my “cool older sister,” and I liked it that way.

But in 2009, when I was 10 and Grace was 13, our family dynamic changed drastically. We thought it was a joke when my mother announced to us that she was expecting, but it was far from a practical joke: Addison was born that year.

I was mad. There was a 10-year age gap between Addi and me, and suddenly, there was no more time for Wii (it hurt the baby’s eyes), no more loud screaming (it hurt the baby’s ears) and no more Grace and Spring time (it hurt the baby’s feelings).

Addison’s existence flipped my world upside down.

Compromise was difficult and for the most part forced upon me by my mother. I remember the daily tousle for the remote control, fighting over “Dora” or “Food Network,” and the painstaking family vacations that attempted to satisfy everyone, from 5-year-old Addi to 70-year-old Grandma. Sharing took on a completely new significance in my life — and I initially hated it.

But when Grace left for college, I entered sophomore year and Addi started preschool, we began to find new common ground.

Addi has become the most mature 7-year-old I know of — listening to the same music as I do and randomly referencing pop culture. Meanwhile, I learned to revisit my love for Legos and Disney princess movies.

She often piggy backs on my hangouts with my friends (while other friends like senior Mitali Shanbhag will insist on coming to my house to visit Addi). At the same time, I have become her personal tutor, correcting her math problem sets as she stares in bewilderment at my calculus problems.

It’s a cute sisterhood, I have to say, between the two of us. But it’s nothing like the relationship I have maintained with my older sister. Through it all, I’ve realized that there is no defining sisterhood factor — Addi is just as much my sister as Grace is.

People think all sisterhoods have to be like those in “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” — in which everyone exchanges the same secrets, has the same friends and literally wears the same pants. But while I’ve realized that Addi and I probably won’t ever look the same, or ever share the same pants, my relationship with her is just as special as the one Grace and I have shared for so long.

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