When Your Sister Becomes A Mother

If I’m being honest, it’s still weird to think of you as a mother. I know how that sounds but … you’re my sister. And now, you’re someone’s mother. How can you be a mother?

You’re nothing like our mother. Or so we’ve always said. And yet, as you keep finding out, you’re just like our mother. Ha! When the hell did you become Mom?

Shopping for Mother’s Day cards, each year I marvel for a moment at the fact you take care of little ones — children that you made. I clearly remember when you were the little one, and how I had to care for you. Most of the time, you’d try to steal away from me and go do your favorite thing — eat handfuls of potting soil. Now, you have little dirt-eaters of your own. Do you see why I marvel at the mother you’ve become? We couldn’t trust you with a houseplant. Now you have a house full of kids.

Meg and Zaron. image by Zaron Burnett III
Meg and Zaron.
image provided by Zaron Burnett III

Do you remember when we used to imagine what it would be like when we were the grown-ups and had kids of our own? We gave names to our future partners, future kids, even our future pets. Like tiny architects we talked about the floor plans of our future homes. To see you make your childhood fantasies and games of make-believe turn into a real family and a home is possibly the greatest magic trick I’ve ever seen.

When your sister becomes a mother … you see your sister differently.

You tell me you’ve never been so tired. That you think you’re always messing up, failing someone, forgetting something, and you’re perpetually worried you’re making memories that will shape your children’s futures. It’s true I’ve never seen you as confused, as worried, as stressed, as flat-out fearful; but I’ve also never seen you smile like the way you do at your children. Your eyes shine. What I also notice is that you’ve developed what can only be called a mother’s resilience. Where you might have once given up and walked away, now you stand up, you push through, and you endure, all those wearying hours of doing what needs to be done. You outlast yet another sleeplessness night. We both know you’ve always been strong. But now you have that mom strength.

Meg, Zaron, and Sky Lizzie. image provided by Zaron Burnett III
Meg, Zaron, and Sky Lizzie.
image provided by Zaron Burnett III

When your sister becomes a mother … you see your mother differently.

As adults, we both figured out our mom isn’t perfect. No mother is. One day your kids will discover your secret, too. But until that day comes, you’ll raise them the best you can, the same as how our mom raised us. That’s all any mother can do. That’s why you hear yourself repeat things Mom said. I bet that’s super weird to hear Mom’s words come out of your mouth.

When your sister becomes a mother … you see yourself differently.

I smile with my soul every time I hear you give your kids one of the lessons of our family. I see how you strive not to repeat any ill patterns. I see how you attempt to hand forward lessons of love and hold back any learned fear. And I see how, every day, in a million ways, you’re reshaping the dynamics of our family. You’re convinced that you’re not perfect and thus you’re a bad mother. I see you’ve become what I always knew you’d be … one badass mother. TC mark

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