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. 



ChAoS in MOtiOn

It is amazing how the right words, at the right time can change a perspective.  At the Bill Jansen Road Race this past June, a group of us were standing talking pre-race.  Mostly we were discussing how unfair some brackets were, like the 30-39 women’s bracket.   A 30 year old woman with no children who still gets to take naps and sleeps through the night, who has never had one or 3 c-sections, and can party until 2 and show up at 7 to run is not the same as a 39 year old Mom with 3 children, who has gone through pregnancy and then surgery 3 times, has slept in the “H” position with her husband and toddler 6 of the last 7 nights and hasn’t had a nap since Monika and Bill were current news are not the same thing.
As we were chatting, I had mentioned I had already done 3 miles prior to the 10k we were waiting for, because my training schedule called for 9 miles that day.  A woman asks me, “So you’re a runner?”  I uhmed, and ahhhed…. and hesitated, and “well” and “uh…” and finally a fellow Mom runner called me out on my behavior exclaiming, “Diane! If you are training for a marathon I THINK you are a runner!!” Thank you Kalyn for the call out. After so many years of running and racing, I still have struggled with labeling myself “A runner.”
Labeling individuals is something I consciously try shy away from.  Johnny Cash felt a good song was a good song regardless of the genre.  I try to view people the same way. People are people.   In avoiding slapping a label on their forehead, I am making a conscious effort to get to know the true individual, not the individual others have presented to me. 
Labeling myself has also been a task I have purposely avoided.  I am ever changing.  Obviously there are some labels I would wear as tattoos: Wife, Mother, Daughter, and sister.  They are certain and unchanging.  But life itself is ever changing, as is the book we are all writing with our lives, everyday.  I resemble the 20 year old version of myself, but in a way that sisters resemble each other.  One can tell they are related, but they are different.  Because I am still learning about myself, I hesitate to label myself; I more than one thing, I am many, but not a runner! No way!
            Runners are sinewy. They are long and lean and have abs that I could wash jeans upon.  They eat bark and grains I can’t pronounce.  They measure weekly miles by numbers I measure highway speeds.  They run, think about running, talk about running, eat so they can run, don’t drink so they run, and sleep so they can get up to run some more.  They are disciplined and type A. They love the checkable tasks a training schedule brings.
Me? I’m a mom who runs. I run because I like to cook with butter, and like beer with my chicken wings. I run to keep at bay the alien who lives in my face that explodes out on that school morning when for the fourth day in a row we can only find 3 shoes, none of which match and the cat has puked 3 times since last night on the white carpet, and the toddler and his feet are why I even know there is cat puke in the house.  I run because so far the children can’t catch me. 
            That night I laid in my bed and looked at the race “bling” I have hanging on the wall. It is a colorful and ever growing lot.  Every one of those medals was a symbol of someone’s desire to train for and finish a race, someone who put in the miles and had set a goal to finish, and someone who was a runner.  I accepted I am that someone. I am a runner.