Unbiological sisters

My daughter will never have sisters. For that, I am a little sorry, but we had her.  And given the fact my grandmother was one half of three sets of twins in her family, I wasn't going to tempt fate and end up with twin girls.  Don't get me wrong. I love my daughter to the moon and back, but one Leah is all we need.  She has the "skills" that in her adulthood will make her unstoppable. She will be in charge of hostile corporate takeovers, or will be responsible for spinning politicians sex scandals into sympathy inducing after-school specials.  In her childhood, the traits make me want to drink by 8am.  Besides, we bookended her with two brothers who will eventually be no less than 6'3" tall, and potential dates will have to get by them first, so we just didn't want to mess with our master plan. So there are no sisters in her future.

I have a sister. She is 13 years older than I. She had grown up and moved on by the time I was about 3 or 4, so in my childhood, I don't remember seeing her a lot.  When I was 9 or 10, she made me an aunt, which was really cool and really frustrating all rolled into one.   In my child mind, it was hard being upstaged by a chubby, cute and perfect GRANDchild.  363 days later, it happened again.  We have not had the chance to share a lot of those sister experiences I hear about from women with sisters, partly because of the age difference, and partly because of the paths our lives have taken.  But we share the same eyes and eyebrows, that remind me of our mother. We share similar walks and somehow we managed to harbor all the intelligence, most of the wit and all of the beauty that somehow escaped our brothers. 

I want my daughter to know, as sorry as I am she won't have a biological sister, she will find herself blessed with some unbiological sisters, like I have been.  I don't know where hers will come from, from which part or parts of her life, but she will find them.  I didn't find my first until probably late high school or early college. These women are a part of my life.  It is important for her to know that in terms of  friendships, it is more about quality, than quantity. Women will enter her life, and we, her parents, will sniff out the fake ones before she does, and that she should trust us.  I want her to know that if someone just seems too amazing/rad/cool/grandiose to be true, and her gut is screaming "FAKER!" she needs to trust her gut. 

What will her unbiological sister feel like? Upon meeting her, she will feel like that college sweatshirt you should have thrown out 10 years ago, but can't.  She will feel like she has known her, her whole life.  In her first meeting she will find herself talking forever, and then feeling sheepish and embarrased afterwards because she admitted in her first meeting that her best hair days are on the 3rd day of not washing her hair, and she may be wearing the same shirt as yesterday because it was just too cold to change.  She will feel an initial click with this person, like two cogs aligning.   Like a tiny piece of herself got completed.  

I have but a handful of unbiological sisters.  These are the women who get me, love me and who I would let fold my underwear, and even my husbands underwear. They are those friends.  Some I have known for 10s of years, some for a mere few months.  I am separated in physical distance from a couple miles, to hundreds of miles from them.  I have seen some yesterday, and some not for years. It doesn't matter, the bond is real, it is dynamic and it is forever.  These are the ones who, if I get knocked down, will say, "Stay down, I've got this."

That doesn't mean it is always butterflies and unicorns.  I need her to know there will be times she will fight with her unbiological sister. It will hurt, but it will be honest. Honesty is always the most important thing.  For her to be honest, and for her to hear honestly.  They will ask her those tough questions she doesn't want to answer, because she knows those same questions have been rolling around in the corner of her own head, and she doesn't have the answer to them yet. But her unbiological sisters will ask, and they will talk, and cry, and there will usually be wine, chocolate and Kleenex involved in these heart to hearts.  There will be waxes and wanes in her sisterhoods, that will coincide with relationships and babies and just the beautiful beast of life, but the bond will always remain.  And she knows she can always call them at 3am.  

She will never have to guess with her unbiological sister. She means what she says and says what she means.  When sushi night's Dynamite roll ends up causing gastronomic explosions the next day, her sisters will trust her when she tells them to go shop and eat, she will be ok, just bring gatorade later.  Sisters do not play martyr. They will help because they want to, or can, or are able. They will expect nothing in return. They will sit outside her bathroom while she bathes, in case her wobbly self decides to fall getting in or out of the tub.  

Her sisters and her will go through the trenches together.   I'm talking about surviving the dirty, hard, ugly stuff together.  I'm talking divorce, miscarriage, surgeries on babies, lice, bad relationships, job loss, depression, and grieving.  Ugly, messy situations that will require unconditional love, understanding, and a lot of chocolate, wine, laughter and Kleenex.

She will need to know that no man will or should take the place of these sisters.  Men were not created for these roles.  That is why God made them differently. They have male refrigerator blindness, and we don't.  They can write their name in the snow, and we can't.  Men are to fill a different role in our lives.  And they usually don't like dark chocolate and talking as much as your sisters do.  

She will understand why Frozen is such a great movie, and will find herself wanting to watch it by herself, with no children around.  She will, at some point, sit and wonder how she was so blessed to have such amazing women, these unbiological sisters be part of her crazy beautiful life.  And then she will also realize just how blessed she is to have so many amazing unbiological Aunts. And then she will remember she should phone her mother. 


The Women of ChAos

ChAoS in MOtiOn

The Women of ChAoS

            About a year ago, while running with my friend Jamie, I said out of the blue, “That’s it! I’m going to do it!!” She looked at me a little confused and asked “Do what?” I explained that during my last few runs I had this growing idea of starting an “online support group” for women runners I knew. From that point, Chaos in Motion, a Facebook support group for the running inflicted was created. 
            The women of Chaos are a very diverse group. Some of us are mothers, but not all.  There exists brand new runners, runners in training, runners that used to run in high school or college and are now just getting back into it and we even have our token IronWoman.  They are friends, and friends of friends.  My goal of this group was to share ideas, support, advice, knowledge and encouragement.  A year ago I never realized how important these women would be in this marathon journey!
            A while back, a friend posted a picture to the site that read, “Girls compete with each other, Women empower one another.” Our group completely embodies this statement.  We all bring different reasons and different stories to why we each run. However, no matter the reason, the unconditional love and support that these women bring is endless. Many have struggled this year with injuries with some severe enough to require them to give up running for many weeks.  Through the MRIs , X-rays, diagnoses and prognoses, we were there for each other. We celebrated the “Clear to runs” and grieved the “6 more weeks of no running.”  We piled on the well wishes and “Go get ems!!” to each of the women who prepared for their 5ks or halves or IronMan races.  We celebrated the finishes, and the accomplishments along the way, whether it was finally running nonstop for 30 minutes, or exercising for 15 hours straight.
            One of these women, Rebecca, probably doesn’t realize I would not be running a marathon without her in my life.  I met Rebecca in June of ’06 at a function welcoming the incoming Medical Residents.  She looked tired, a bit irritated, and I decided that night we would be friends.  Her exhaustion was completely understandable since she had given birth about 6 days before her husband was to start residency, where he would be working no less than 80 hours a week.   Probably one of those plans that looked better in theory… In our first year of residency she ran Dam to Dam, a 20k in Des Moines and I thought that was a pretty amazing feat.  She was a runner, one of those people who mystified and intrigued me.
            She was my lifeline during these 3 years.  Both of our husbands were spending more time at the hospital than at home, and thankfully we had each other, just a couple blocks away.  Many mornings started with a text: “Coffee and bagel?” and then we would decide who would run for bagels and who would watch the children. The children that started in the beginning as 2, and would climb to 4 by the time we left residency.   Our friendship was the kind that we could sit in silence, watching our kids destroy the living room, and feel safe and understood.  She is the kind of friend that tells you what you need to hear, though sometimes you may not want to hear it.  She is the Type A, all-about- the- process of training personality to my Type B, can’t find the process, lets just race personality.    
The end of residency would take her to southern Minnesota, and me to North Dakota.  In the years since residency the four kids have grown to six and our husbands are still busy, and there are still mornings we virtually have coffee and a bagel, via picture text.  She has gone on to do Dam to Dam several more times and I became one of those mystifying runners as well.
In the last year we had thrown around the marathon idea. “Some day we’ll have to do that.” Someday when the kids are older, someday when our hubby’s schedules slow down… Then Boston happened.  Instead of being scared off by the Boston Marathon bombings, Rebecca let the ridiculous act of bombing people who run 26 miles for fun empower her to sign up for her first marathon.  I shortly followed her lead.  We have trained for this race together. She marking off each run on her training calendar, me asking her what we needed to run because I can’t find my training calendar. 
The week of our 18 mile long run, Rebecca had done her miles on Friday. Saturday morning I set out to do mine. Things were fine until mile 6. I had run 3 away from my house and 3 back. About the time I hit my driveway something went horribly screwy in my right knee. It HURT. I mean worse than Pitocin induced contractions hurt.  I hobbled to my house and tried to stretch while I bawled. There was something about this run, because my training had been so hit and miss and shoddy, it was crucial in my mind to complete. I reasoned if I completed this run, I would be able to do the marathon, if I didn’t I would withdraw.  All I kept thinking was Rebecca did it. Rebecca did it yesterday. She had never raced more than 12.4 miles and she did it, I can do it.  She had no idea that her run the previous day allowed me to muscle through the pain, though it wasn’t pretty or fast, and complete the 18 miles. 
Sunday I will gather at the start line with Rebecca and Tracy, another Chaos Woman, who has kept me laughing throughout this process.  I am positive we will not be the fastest group, but we will probably be the one laughing and dancing the most.  We each bring our individual reasons for doing this marathon with the common goal to just cross the finish line. So to all you Women of Chaos, and you know who you are, my most heartfelt thanks for your love, wisdom and encouragement through this journey! Mile 26 is for you all!