Chanelle, you are a mom NOT a big sister… and it’s about time you start acting like it!
I’m the youngest of my family by six years and 5 minutes. You know, because I’m a twin. I remember those moments I would say things to my sisters in a means to fit in. Unfortunately I had a lisp as a child and would often get laughed at by them.
I remember sneaking into my big sister’s bedroom and hiding in her closet just so I could watch her do her hair and make-up in the morning. I went as far as wearing my sister’s bra to school as a flat chested nine year old one day.
I thought both my sisters were so cool and I knew deep down inside that I wasn’t to their standard of cool. But it was my goal to keep trying to prove I could meet their standard.
I remember the day I looked at my three year old daughter and saw the look in her eyes. It was the same look I gave my big sisters. That look of longing that asked, “Do you see me? Do you accept me? Am I just as cool as you are?”
My three year old Esperanza will burst into laughter in the midst of my husband and I laughing about a scenario that’s too mature for her to understand.
She’ll follow me into my bathroom and watch me put my make up on. Then the moment I leave she’ll get into my make-up and I’ll find her with dark colours smeared all over her face.
Esperanza will follow me around the house copying my every move. And sadly my initial response to all this is annoyance. My expression of annoyance can be greatly compared to that of what my sisters showed me.
It only truly hit me that I was responding to Esperanza like she was my little sister more than my daughter, when my mother pointed it out. It was a “palm-smack-forehead” moment.
My mom was visiting for a few weeks and watched as Esperanza entered my bathroom while I did my make-up. As usual Esperanza proceeded to touch everything. I responded to her as I usually would. I whined and begged her to go away. It was then that my mom pointed out, “she wants to be just like her mommy and put on makeup! You need to show her how!”
I then remembered the moments I watched my mom doing her make-up and she’d hand me make-up sponges with just a dab of colour on it to smear on my face. And there was always that proud feeling of, “I look just like my mommy!”
In moments when she and my big sister would talk about a grown up topic and I tried to respond, she would bring the conversation down to my level. It took some explaining of different terms they used and simplifying grown up analogies. But her goal was to include me.
I’m my daughter’s mother, not her big sister. I never thought it would be so easy to get into the “big sister” mode and react in annoyance to my child. It’s much easier to respond to her behaviours this way. Now that I know this is my natural habit, I now take the time to stop myself and think, “Am I responding to my daughter as a mother or a sister?”