Being fifty-something, I’m more grateful than ever for my sisters.
I recall many years ago I was trying to convince a teary friend that she’d feel better if she talked through her troubles with someone. “It’s all right for you,” she sobbed defensively. “You’ve got all those sisters.”
It dawned on me that I had been dealt a winning sibling hand.
Growing up, we’d been conditioned to think otherwise. The reaction to our five-daughters-no-sons family was usually dismay. There was a lot of “poor Dad” and “Will you try again?”
Mum and Dad never hid that they’d hoped for a son amongst their brood. Even when pregnant with number five they picked out a boy’s name ready.
The fact that Mum’s brother had seven-boys-no-girls didn’t help.
We were mostly referred to by the collective “the girls” and our hand-me-down clothes assumed almost eternal life.
We did lots of girlie play together … it was all Barbie dolls and dress-ups. We sewed, we knitted, we jigsawed.
If it wasn’t for the “only child” boy-next-door-neighbour (Jimmy) we might never have learnt the joys of Lego blocks and Tonka trucks (or had any notion that we were missing out).
As we hit our teens and started thinking about boyfriends, we bemoaned the lack of a brother to fill our little house with his mates.
With our teens came other angst, too … at any given time it was mathematically probable that one of us would be premenstrual.
Yep … poor Dad.
Oddly, we each recorded our periods by circling and initialling dates on a shared family calendar pinned inside the pantry door. I suspect that was for poor Dad’s benefit … so he knew when to lay low.
Soon, new partners, workmates and best friends filled out our relationships and we found ourselves moving from the little bursting-with-hormones house to our own places.
We still caught up at regular family gatherings, but we all had our own busy lives to live.
There were weddings and babies and businesses.
There were jobs and divorces and mortgages.
There were grandkids and study and in-laws.
Fast-forward to our fifties and our lives are still busied with such things.
But now we make space for “sister time”.
Today I enjoyed lunch out with two of my sisters. (The third was granted a leave pass; she was interstate for the long weekend.)
We have a family birthday gathering next weekend but we’ve learnt we don’t really get to connect at those functions … we’re too occupied with doting on the littlies and learning what the middlies are up to. One or more of us seems constantly in the kitchen making sure everyone is fed and watered.
When it’s just the sisters we can talk about anything. If we were brothers it would be “balls ‘n’ all”.
Today we covered dysfunctional thyroids and dysfunctional friends. We covered a lot of territory without any pretension of being politically correct. Yep, balls ‘n’ all.
We confirmed again how we are all morphing into our mum … the mum-typical conversation about the weather, critiquing the restaurant decor with all the finesse of professional interior designers and tut-tutting about the fish meal that was returned to the kitchen from the table next to ours. (No it didn’t smell right, did it?)
It’s handy to be able to discuss menopause and peri-menopause (whatever that is) with girls who share your DNA. And we’re never afraid to touch on pimples, lady moustaches, breast cancer or our oversized feet.
Girlfriends (even besties) are great, but sisters are something again. You know it’s unconditional. It might not always be perfect, but it’s balls ‘n’ all honest. There are some things only a sister will tell you.
Friends can drift in and out of your life but sisters are never too far away.
We missed our absent-with-leave sister. She’s coming to stay over next weekend and we’ll catch up then.
And we always miss our late sister, Gay. How she loved to do lunch!
But we never miss not having a brother.
See … blatantly sexist and non-PC.
Sisters are special. Sisters rock.
I know … easy for me to say that.
You see, it’s all right for me … I’ve got all those sisters.