Many people either know what life is like to be a sibling, or what it means being an only child. For 17 and a half years, I knew what it was like to be an only child. I was constantly surrounded by adults except for the interaction I had at school or dance. I never wanted another sibling because the young me feared the unknown of sharing attention and space. I even used to say I didn’t like kids and I’d rather be around adults. I was content with the time and attention I got from my parents and it seemed as if that would not change.
Oh, how the tables turn…
Within a few short weeks I went from being an only child to sharing a home with two children who once were simply my neighbors. I took on the “big sister” role, but without the typical nine months to prepare. The fact of the matter is, just because you take on the role of sibling when your parent makes the decision to foster a child, doesn’t mean you become a “sister” or “brother”. Those terms come with relationship development, to many, they are terms of endearment. I was not granted that endearment at first, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to. When a nine and twelve-year-old move in, a lot changes, and so do you.
Nearing the midpoint of my senior year, when my mom decided it was in the best interest of our neighbors to move into our home, my world was flipped upside down. No, I didn’t freak out, but I felt many moments where I was longing for the solidarity of my past life. I never expected I would have to become a new type of role model where someone is looking at my every move. The change wasn’t horrible, it was in fact a really good growth opportunity for myself, my mother, and our two new family members. Now, I won’t go into detail of our transition, or explain exactly where we struggled, but I will tell you how I have changed over the last 10 months.
I have learned to be exceedingly patient in situations and with questions. I have learned how to hold my tongue. I have learned that as a child, you don’t always need to know why the answer is no. I have been able to reflect on my own childhood and understand that when my mom or dad did things I didn’t like, it was generally in my best interest. I will never forget my mom saying, “you might hate me now, but you’ll love me later.” I have learned what it means to be respected and disrespected and how to remain confident in those times. I have learned to be a different kind of role model. I have learned how to love differently. I have learned how to be more understanding, considerate, and compassionate. The past 10 months have proved difficult, but have played a part in the development of becoming a strong adult. I miss Shawna and Aaron when I’m away at college. I love to laugh with them and talk with them. To see how much they have changed in 10 months is incredible! And while I know I’m not always there and it gets hard at times, I love to see how my mom has changed and the difference she is making in their lives as well.
All this to say, these things wouldn’t be possible without the love and trust in Jesus, which is the only reason any of us have made it as far as we have in this journey. Although I was able to learn a lot as an only child, I was able to learn more by becoming a sibling. I am grateful to now be considered a sister.