Some of the skills I learned to become a better parent, I learned from being a big sister. I am the oldest of 3 girls. I am 2 years older then my sister Jae and 16 years older then my sister Jessica. I’m sure your thinking that there must have been some divorce in the middle of that age gap however, Jessica was my parent’s blessed pregnancy at 40!
Looking back on me and Jae’s relationship as children, makes me both happy and sad. We fought a great deal growing up, and like most homes we had our share of disfunction to contend with. But when I think of the moments of childhood bliss, Jae is right there in the midst of every memory. We were extremely creative with our imagination time. We wrote songs and recorded them as early as 7 an 5 years old. Our forts were never castles for a princess but rather spaceships ready to explore new worlds. Our banana seat bike was our vehicle of freedom and we would ride it together, as fast as we could peddle and hit every possible bump just to scream and laugh our butts off.
I learned that those moments that I treasure so dearly, I must encourage in my children today. That I must seize the opportunities to let my children have the freedom to imagine and to expand their horizons through their dreams. I could dream with Jae and those are the memories of my childhood that I cherish.
The other dynamic that I take away from our childhood was how unfair I was to Jae. I gave her a lot of guff. It still amazes me to this day how she ever got around it enough to like me let alone look up to me. I will try my best to teach my children how sacred a brother/ sister bond is and how it is to be valued, earlier on in life, rather than later. Today, my sister Jae and I have an amazing relationship that I adore Thank GOD we grow up and and mature!
Jessica came along at an entirely different time in my life. I was 16, driving and had very little time for family. I was given a new set of freedoms and I was a very active 16 year old,…. too active to babysit. Over the earliest years of Jessica’s life I made her a ton of promises that I’d continually fall short on. Promises to go to the movies, or for some one on one time that I always had an excuse for not being able to at the last minute. At 20, I just didn’t get how valuable my time with her could be. It wasn’t until I had moved out of my parents home that I started to recognize how important my role was to Jessica’s life.
Around 23, things started to click that hadn’t before. It was a time in our life that Jessica needed me and luckily I was able to recognize it. It was at that point I decided that I wanted to be someone that she could learn from and could trust. I had too many memories her disappointed face when I would go back on my word and I never wanted to let her down again. I developed a ritual for her and I called “Sisters Only” nights.
We did this every other weekend if not every weekend for a long period of time. Sisters Only was an exclusive “Danielle and Jessica” night. It ensured Jessica that none of my friends or boyfriend at the time would be joining us. Just Jessica and I out on the town. Traditionally the evening would start by me picking her up and going out to dinner. We always followed it up with a movie. I liked it best when we would rent a movie because we would get back to my apartment, throw on our jammies, pop the popcorn and sprinkle in the M&M peanuts for me and a bag of Reece’s Pieces for Jess. Enjoying the movie from comfort of my sofa!
My relationship with Jessica during her younger years taught me valuable lessons that I carry with me now as a parent. One of the most important was to lead by example. How could I possibly expect Jessica to take me serious if I was not living the way I was trying to teach her? To this day, I continue to find that to be vital for our relationship not to mention with my children. Another lesson that I had to learn with no exceptions is to stand by my word. Never make a promise you can’t keep or they lose faith in you. The last thing in this world I ever want is for my kids to not believe me when I say I’m going do something. I had to learn that lesson the hard way with Jessica but I’m glad to say I was able to turn that around with her.
There is much to be learned from our relationships of the past and present that can help shape us into better parents. I thank my sisters for helping me become a better mommy and I love the Aunties that they turned out to be.