My Sisters Are More Than Family To Me

What It Feels Like To Be Reunited With Your Sisters

My best friends, my confidants, and the most annoying girls you'll ever meet all in one.

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As someone who has always been close with their siblings, it's always strange when I come to the sudden realization (usually at three in the morning) that we will probably never live very close to each other again. We're scattered all around the nation right now: one of us on the West Coast, another sister in the Midwest, a brother in New England, and the last one (me) in the South. My sisters and brother were more than just siblings, they were my best friends growing up. The fact that I only get to see them during Christmas and maybe a weekend in the summer breaks my heart.

After the winter holiday break, we began to collectively wonder: when is the next time we'll all actually be together again? Will we be able to see each other in the summer? Will my older sister be too busy with her new Californian job? Will my other sister be preoccupied with research in her graduate program? Will my brother be willing to stop playing video games to go out to dinner with us if we even could all gather up?

I decided to take action against my fear of never seeing my siblings again. While most of my peers were planning a trip to some tropical location for spring break, I saved enough money to buy a ticket to Chicago where one of my sisters lives. My mother agreed to join the trip, which encouraged my oldest sister to abandon sunny San Francisco and visit the Windy City.

Even though the gap between my winter break and my spring break was not too large, I still missed my siblings immensely and longed for any moment I could spend with them. I'm aware that these opportunities will be few and far between, so I need to take advantage while I can.

Of course, your idolized version of being reunited with family does not always align with reality. Within ten minutes of seeing my sister, we were already bickering, and that was not the first time we would fight during the trip.

Still, part of me misses those pointless arguments. I miss the yelling, the hair-pulling, how my two older sisters sometimes gang up on me as the youngest child. To me, all of those things are worth it because, after all of that, we can laugh about childhood memories or give each other advice on our love lives (or for me, lack thereof). I get to see my sisters try to balance becoming adults while they still giggle at "That's What She Said" jokes.

It's strange to watch my sisters get older, to see them discover their path in life. I always saw them as so mature and sure of themselves, but it's nice to know that they're still themselves. Growing up doesn't mean they've lost their sense of humor adventure. They're still my sisters, and they're still my best friends.

After this, I don't know when the next time I'll see them will be. Of course, there is so much technology available, so if I really wanted to sit on the couch and watch "Brooklyn 99" with my sister while eating dinner, we could do that together. But, it's not quite the same if you don't get to share a blanket or occasionally smack one-another in the arm when they keep interrupting the episode. As much as we try to imitate the physical sensation of being next to someone, you can't mirror the feeling completely.

Now that we've gone to the Midwest, maybe our next trip will be to the West Coast, and then they'll even visit me at college. All I know is that distance will not keep me and my sisters apart. Family can cross timezones, cross borders, cross all obstacles. For family, I'm willing to do what I can for another moment of rewatching the last episode of Friends for the thirtieth time.

Oh, and I guess my brother can come too.

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When You Give A Girl A Brother

"No, you cannot exchange him for a baby sister"
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When you give a girl a brother, at first she'll probably cry and ask her parents to exchange him for a baby sister.

When she learns that this is not possible, she'll cave and take him under her wing.

She'll coach him from crawling, to walking to sprinting in no time.

Then she'll teach him the best places to hide for a thrilling game of hide and seek, stuffing him under beds and shutting him in toy boxes.

She'll share her creepiest stories, illuminated by the flickering of her Barbie flashlight in a tent for two in the living room floor.

She'll squeal in delight as she chases him through backyard sprinklers, daring him to run through the freezing water in the summer heat.

She'll taunt him as the two stand back to back, insisting that she must be "1,000" inches taller than him, because bigger sisters are just that: bigger.

She'll tattle when he pulls her by her hair from the couch or takes her favorite toy, sure that Mom will bring justice to the cruel, cruel rein of younger brothers.

She'll teach him all about school, helping him pick his first backpack and suggesting the best color pencils.

She'll find herself defending him against the school bus bullies with her fiery personality, (even though he insists that he can handle it and it's sooooo embarrassing when his sister is threatening to beat up boys for him)

She'll spend her afternoons insisting that her homework is much, much harder than his "baby" spelling words, because she's learning her multiplication facts.

Over time she won't seem to notice that their backyard adventures have been replaced with "No Boys Allowed" or "No Girls Allowed" signs on their bedroom doors.

She'll soon be annoyed when her mom insists that she has to bring her little brother to the high school basketball game.

She'll call her friends insisting that her middle school brother is so obnoxious with his high pitched voice and his sad attempt to grow armpit hair.

She'll complain and call him disgusting when he doesn't flush or a brat takes too long in the bathroom in the mornings.

She'll bribe him with fast food so that he doesn't tell mom that he heard her on the phone all night with some boy past curfew.

She'll still insist that her algebra homework is so much harder than his freshman English class (because that's so ninth grade).

She'll tell him to go away as she cries alone in her room, because she doesn't have a date for Homecoming. But he'll wait patiently outside the door with the dress shirt and pants that he bought to be her escort in her time of need.

Time will pass, and she'll begin to see that the little brother who she once towered over, the one she saw walk for the first time, the baby who she was sure she wanted to trade, has been replaced with a man.

A man now towers nearly a foot above her head, voice booming with maturity, and driving his own car to high school basketball games.

A man who helps her move into her college dorm, trying to hit on her roommates, and later coaching her through her math homework via text messages from home.

A man who asks her for advice for his first dates, asking if his cologne is too strong or if his shoes match his outfits.

A man who defends her when the two of them are out and about, and some guy just won't leave her alone.

A man who now gives her advice about her life choices, with full honesty and wisdom beyond his own age.

A man who inspires her, teaches her, and challenges her.

Because even when she's no longer "1,000" feet taller, or he's too big to fit in the toy box anymore, when you give a girl her brother you've given her a best friend for life. A teacher, a protector, her savior, and her biggest pain. But regardless what time brings: the changes, the heartache, the success; he will always be there. When you give a girl a brother, you've given her the one of the most important men of her life... and although she may know know it at first, one day she will thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Carolina Heart Photography

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When You Are The Youngest Of 6 Kids

Having five older siblings is the greatest blessing I could have ever asked for. I get best friends for life.

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I am probably one of the luckiest people on the planet because I have so many brothers and sisters. I have three brothers and two sisters. I'm the youngest of the six, so I have had a pretty interesting experience growing up with a big family.

My oldest brother is ten years older than me. All of my siblings were born in the 90s and I wasn't, but I wanted to fit in with them. I had to make sure I watched the same TV shows and movies that they did so I could relate to them. I tried to play the same games that they played, such as SEGA and Nintendo. I was not very good at any of them, but I was just happy to be with my siblings.

Going to school was always interesting because I always had a teacher that one or more of my siblings already had. Every year in school from 1st grade to 12th grade, I always heard, "Oh, I had a few of your siblings." Then, for the rest of the year, my teachers would slip up every once in a while and call me one of my sisters' names. I understood, though, because all of us look alike, so I would just go along with it and act like that was my name.

With my sisters, the three of us look like triplets, even though we are years apart. I get called Jess or Jen a lot by my parents. By process of elimination, they eventually figure out my name. I'm used to it as I respond to anyone who calls me by one of my sister's names.

Being the youngest, I get to see all my brothers and sisters accomplish many things. I watch what they do and learn from it. The problem for me has always been that all of my siblings are brilliant. I have always had to live up to the standards that my siblings set. It hasn't always been easy.

It can be frustrating because anyone that knows my brothers and sisters will automatically compare me to them in terms of intelligence. For example, I took AP Statistics in high school. I knew my teacher had a few of my siblings who were very bright and did well in that class. My teacher probably thought I was an idiot because I struggled in that class.

I have to try and prove to people that I am my own person and that I am just related to really smart people.

I never needed to worry about friends at school because, at the end of the day, I always had my five best friends at home. When we were all younger, we had our own sleepovers and parties, and we played games all the time.

Whenever I needed help with homework, I had my own free tutors at home who were willing to help me understand algebra and biology. Even in college, I still go to them when I need help with an assignment.

They took care of me when I was younger whenever my parents were working. I had my other five parents who were ready to take care of me. They still take care of me today.

Now that I am an adult, I have had to start doing things for myself. It's kind of weird.

I always had everyone else do everything for me or with me. If I needed to go somewhere, they were my chauffeurs. If we went out to eat somewhere, they paid, but now I can drive myself around and pay for things with my own money.

At the end of the day, I have five best friends for life. For me, that is all I need.

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