Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Becoming sisters

If I ever write a book, I think it will be about adopting the older child. or starting motherhood with older children.

Lately when we go shopping my girls are in a constant chase/catch/find/Mom is base mode.

I'm sure the shoppers around us don't like this, but to me it brings a lot of joy and comfort.

For the first time my girls are exhibiting signs of what other kids do at this age or maybe younger, but it is still a first.

For one thing, they are bonding as sisters.

Growing up with two sisters, I can tell you that you either LOVED or HATED them at all times. Rarely is there that in between WHILE they are interacting. Now you can live side by side, but when you are actively involved in each other's lives, you have VERY strong opinions about your relationship to them.

To bring two girls together, at different points in their lives, with completely, yet in some ways similar backgrounds and expect them to "become" sisters is asking a lot. There is not the shared genetics, the sibling rivalry of one being the baby to be uprooted by the next baby. There was not the progression of helping your younger sibling or looking to the older for guidance.

These sisters are only 8 months apart in age, have had only 18 months as sister, and easily as different as night and day, yet they are beginning that bonding that provides the environment to have a lot of conversations start with, "Mom, she's ......" and you can fill in the blank. She is messing with my pony tail, she is kidding me about some boy, she won't let me borrow her shampoo, she looked at me funny.

If you have kids or if you have siblings, you know what I am talking about.

It is all normal and it is all good and develops the basis for dealing with the bigger issues as you age.

Of course on the flip side, there are now those secret conversations that occur just between them, those shared secrets, glances that the other can read, the advice and help that is extended, but most of all the true sisterly love beginning to develop.

I don't want you to think they have been strangers passing in the night. Far from it. But it has taken the right circumstances, the right difficulties, the right triumphs, the right shared experiences to strengthen this bridge, this relationship that is known as sisters.

For me it is now that I am base when shopping, or one comes running from out of nowhere and suddenly wants to walk with me while I can see the other sneaking up out of the corner of my eye.

Yesterday it was even a competition as to who was the best daughter based on who gave the best back massages while tromping through Sam's. It took a lot of demonstrations and poundings before I could come to the clear answer that it was a tie! Very unsatisfactory to them though but great for my back!

When I adopted Grace, she had spent most of her first six years with a foster mother who loved to baby her. When she was returned to the orphanage before the adoption, she experienced more than I have in my lifetime of less than stellar care. She had been in kindergarten and started first grade and while I know those schools were strict, I don't think they can compare to the school atmosphere that Annabel had experienced by being in 6th grade at the time of her adoption.

Annabel still thanks me if I let her put butter on her bread. Or if I don't make her eat something when she is too full or really doesn't like it. She thanks me if I pour her milk or fold her clothes.

Now these things are great, but they are also how you would act if you were a guest in someone's home, not like it was your home.

So it leaves it somewhat confusing, as I am glad she appreciates the smaller things, yet don't want her to feel she HAS to acknowledge them or risk some adverse behavior. I just want her to feel at home.

I'm glad I have always known my girls would behave no matter where I took them, but it is so much healthier for them to want to misbehave and not fear the consequences.

So being a first time mom and starting with older children has been a learning experience. I want to let the line out a little to allow those freedoms, but not too much where I can't pull it back in. I want them to feel safe and secure and at home, but don't want to end up with smart mouth, back talking lazy guts either.

Hey wait a minute! Maybe that is what all parents go through!

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