Nobody Says: When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Like My Younger Sister

I am the oldest. I was the first to make my parents into parents. The first to go to kindergarden. The first to have a sleepover. Get braces. Get a perm. (Equalling the most awkward girl in her middle school.) Have a boyfriend. Get a curfew. Break a curfew. Get caught drinking. Not get caught smoking. Go off to college. Go to medical school. Get married. Have children.

And I’ve never known what it’s like to not be able to do something that my sister is doing. (Until she could go on trips and stay up late and sleep in and I had to, well, BE A MOM. But I still got to do those things FIRST.) We are five and a half years apart. I never even had competition. What do I care if she got an Very Good in spelling in fourth grade when I only got a Good? I was a sophomore in high school by then. I had SPELL CHECK. And BOOBS.

I don’t even remember fighting with my sister. Or teasing her. Or hating her. (Although I do remember inviting her to play WALK. What’s walk? It’s when she had to walk between the living room couch and the glass table as my friends and I tried to trip her. In my defense, if a friend had tripped her WITHOUT my express permission, I would’ve KILLED them.)

I guess that is what younger siblings do. Admire. Tolerate. Trust. I don’t know. And I worry about this NOT KNOWING.

Because when I take E to soccer, I don’t understand what it’s like for N.

On the outside. Looking in.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

37 thoughts to “Nobody Says: When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Like My Younger Sister”

  1. Oh, I can see his little mind trying to figure out how he can join the big kids. And as long as he doesn’t get intentionally tripped or subjected to a perm, he’ll probably be all right. =>
    .-= Stacia´s last blog ..It Takes a Pit Crew =-.

    1. Hey! My sister survived! (just barely ;))
      But yes, I have a feeling that she’ll be taking some classes that are too old for her because she’ll have learned to open the door and join in. Oh well… I mean, ALL MY CHILDREN ARE VERY ADVANCED anyway — lol

  2. I worry too, though I never understood that worry until just now, because you captured it perfectly! My youngest is only 14 months, but I see the aboslute adoration he has for his older brother in his eyes and I wonder how that feels. Like you I was the oldest, I was also the achiever in my family. My sister was the athlete, the funny one, and a few years younger. She would tell you that she lived in my shadow a bit, I beg to differ. We were just different. But we were never close. And so I hope that my boys will be close, that they will have that connection that I don’t feel with my own sister, but I also hope that my youngest never feels that he has to live in my oldest’s shadow.

    Really enjoyed this post!
    .-= Christine LaRocque´s last blog ..The changing face of friendship =-.

      1. Thanks for the shout out on your FB page. I just “fanned/liked” (whatevs) your page — (and i think that we just started following each other on twitter yesterday but if I’m wrong LMK.)

        And to your comment: Im relieved that I am not that only one who worries about this. And although my sister and I are VERY close, I worry that my boy and girl won’t be. Different genders. Or just because some siblings (like you mentioned) just aren’t that close. I think that we can foster an environment where kids don’t feel in competition with each other (or with those family myths like you are the smart one and she is the athletic one -which we had in my family too), but in the end some personality are just not going to click. Whether we are related or not.
        But of course I WANT them to be close so I hear that in my head but it doesn’t change my mind yet !

  3. I am the oldest, too, and my brother is a whole EIGHT years younger than me. We sort of had different childhoods, and of course, being different sexes, we are probably not as close as sisters could be with that difference. (Though that’s probably a crass generalization.)

    It’s so neat to watch my two kids, 2 1/2 years apart, start to form a relationship, even though one is still a small baby. She looks at her brother with such adoring eyes already. And he is so sweet to her. If he ever tries to trip her in the living room I will kill him.

    How old is your guy?
    .-= Jana @ Attitude Adjustment´s last blog ..The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging =-.

    1. My kids are almost the exact same age apart as yours! My daughter/youngest is a year and my son is a just over 3 and 1/2 years old now 🙂

      I like to watch them play and interact… but I’m pretty sure that our boys will at least trip our youngest once 😉 Maybe never again after you get through with them though!!

    1. I probably COULD let her into the soccer class — I just think that she would end up the ball or the goal 😉
      It’s cool that your oldest has caved his niche — and AMAZING he survive.

  4. Oh such a sweet picture of your little one watching the game! How funny – I am the oldest with one sister four and a half years younger. I do remember feeling very jealous when she was born but like you, never was that bothered by her once I got used to her being around because of the age gap – which sadly also meant we never got to know each other as she was only 13 when I left home for University and I never really went back. Now I think the closer siblings are in age the better (for them at least, maybe not for Mom!). My sister did manage to do some things before me – she had four children before I ever got started, and we are total opposites in every way imaginable which is another reason I have never felt any competitive streak with regards to her. She was always going to be a homemaker and not a career woman and I wanted the career, to see the world and do anything but be a Mom – at least until I got into my 40’s and had a rethink! Great post today – making me think about my sister.
    .-= Aging Mommy´s last blog ..Just A Typical Day In The Life Of A Technophobe =-.

    1. I asked at about six weeks into being a sister: when are we returning her?
      But after that I was over it, too. I will say that my sister and I are very close so I do think that personalities play a role as well as environment. But my sister and I did go through a phase (when she was in middle school (12) and I was in UNI (college 😉 where we had pretty much nothing in common. My kids will always have things in common… in fact right now is probably the most different they’ll be… weird.

  5. I also think it makes a difference if the siblings are of the same sex or not. I have one of each. I know that there was always competition between my two. They are also 5 years apart in age.

    The difference now is that my son is big enough to pay back his sister for all the crap he took when he was little.

    1. I was really worried about my kids being the opposite sex. I WAS excited but I worried that they wouldn’t be as close as my sister and I are. But who knows? (And I’m glad to here that your son is getting some pay back — my sister is definitely stronger than me now but she hasn’t tried to trip me… yet)

  6. I just laughed out loud, in a crowded room at work, after reading:

    “I had SPELL CHECK. And BOOBS.”

    Amen for both, sister.

  7. Thanks to Christine and her Single Shot on FB.

    I am the younger sister. We are 6 years apart. When I look at my own children, I relate most to my youngest. And I feel for my oldest because I KNOW it must be hard, but I can really only imagine.

    The middle one? He’s just f***ed! 🙂

    Loved this!

  8. I am the younger sister, but my big sis was only 2 years ahead of me. It WAS hard for me. She was near perfect (first caught breaking curfew – me), and demanded that I carve out my own world. I know better then her that life is unfair. (It’s okay that way most of the time. While we fought and did mean things to each other (I pushed her off a bunk bed, she pushed me through a glass table), she’s one of my favorite people now.
    My big girl threw a fit when she didn’t get to come to my baby’s gym class. My baby was crying when she couldn’t go in the dugout and on the field with her big sister. Sadly, it’s all part of being a family.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Puppy love =-.

    1. Thanks for sharing that… my sister gets the nearly PERFECT award and it is hard (even being further apart). I wonder which of my kids will be the rebel?

      And she and I are close now. (And we were then for the most part, but I was more parental in her life for a LONG time.)

  9. Alex, this is lovely. I’m the oldest, too, but because my just-younger sister was not much younger, and we grew up in a tiny place in a tiny school, we experienced so many of the same things. There were different opportunities here and there, of course, but even through high school we shared classes, friends, after-school activities, summer camp, a car. But I often wonder what it was like for the youngest of us five, who was the only one who can remember being at home alone while the rest of us were at school.

    1. My sister was an only child (basically) from seventh grade on up. It’s weird because my kids will only be three (at the most) grades a part… so they will share so much more… I always wished that my sister was in the same school as me at some point! (I grew up in a small town too so even my sister was “alex’s sister” six years later!)
      Are you and your sister close now?

  10. I’m the middle child of three, but the only girl and my older brother is only 20 months my senior – so I don’t think I had the left-out younger sibling experience that some have. That being said, I worry all the time about my younger son (himself 20 months younger than his older brother) and how following so close in age behind a same-sex sibling might affect him.

    (Do you know Lindsey of A Design So Vast? She wrote once about how her younger sister is the world’s only younger and wiser sister. I thought of that post while reading yours.)

    Great topic and so well-written!
    .-= Kristen @ Motherese´s last blog ..Mama Needs a Brand New Bag (and, apparently, a brand new scarf) =-.

    1. I don’t know Lindsey — but I’ll go check it out! It’s funny because my sister really is so wise — she’s just an wonderful woman.

      I do think that’s a trade-off: with different sexes or a lot of space there is less competition but with the same sex or closer together there is often more closeness. (although my sister and I are VERY close so there are ALWAYS exceptions… personality and upbringing plays a large role too. i think being aware of our children being different is so important. Which you ARE!)

  11. I think it depends on the personalities of the siblings and the age difference. I’m the youngest (by 5 years), but I never wanted to be like my sister. She was the first to drop out of school, the first to run away, the first to become addicted to drugs, etc.

    Such great photos.
    .-= Mrs.Mayhem´s last blog ..To My First Beautiful Boy =-.

    1. Thanks for the photo complements. And maybe my title is wrong and your sister should’ve said: I WANT to be like my younger sister. I’m sorry to hear that she was such a tough sibling to have.

  12. That’s a precious photo of your daughter btw. I am only guessing here, but I wonder if older brothers tend to be pretty sweet toward (if not a tad overprotective of) their younger sisters?? I’m the older sister of a brother pretty close in age, and I pretty much traumatized him growing up. I wanted to be left alone and I think I spent years rejecting him. I felt he was the pesky kid who cramped my cool kindergarten style. On the other hand, if I had an older brother, I have a feeling he would’ve been nicer.
    .-= Cecilia´s last blog ..Mothering, Memories =-.

    1. I hope so. I always wanted an older brother too (and not just to date the upperclassmen in high school 😉 — I really wanted someone who protected me. And I’d love to see a picture of your cool kindergarden style 😉

  13. Great post! I’m the oldest of four girls. (My husband is also an oldest child.) I think we relate more to my son’s birth order just because we know what it’s like to be the trail blazer/guinea pig.

    It’ll be interesting to help our daughter figure out her path. I believe that she’s in our family to shake things up. We’re a bunch of first born earth signs. She’s a fire sign, baby of the family and, if we’re not careful, may end up ruling us all. 😀
    .-= Mandy´s last blog ..Jam Berries =-.

  14. I am the younger sister. My sis is 6 years older than me (so pretty much flip-flopped of you and K). I grew up LOVING being compared to my sister. I never went through a phase of feeling like I was in her shadow, or hating the fact I had all her old teachers. It actually made my life a lot easier because she was well liked and a great student. We did a lot of the same activities, but I did some other ones as well. We are also pretty different, but it never bothered me. And it appears N has a model as well. :o)
    .-= Chara´s last blog ..Race Car Dreams =-.

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