Photo by: Shutterstock

Raising Sisters

Photo by: Shutterstock

I get so frustrated when I am faced with a parenting dilemma that causes me to second guess my mothering skills. If you are a parent, you probably know that these situations, in which there are no easy answers, happen regularly. Just when I think I have things figured out, something changes and I am presented with a new scenario that leaves me baffled.

Lately, I have been struggling with the reality that sometimes I have to prioritize the needs of one of my children over the other. I am afraid it is something I better get used to, and if possible, learn to get really good at.

It is happening more and more often: my youngest daughter, 16 months old, is becoming annoying, and her older sister, 6 years old, wants a little more separation and privacy. As the oldest child in my own family, I am tuned into the firstborn mentality of craving some time alone or with friends, without the pesky younger sibling tagging along. But, as the mother of a sweet, eager toddler who is obsessed with her big sister, it breaks my heart to see her standing at the top of the stairs, rattling the gate and crying out to a big sister who has just headed down to play with friends.

Izzy is a patient, tolerant, loving older sister, and she obviously deserves some time to herself. Lately, she has taken to going into her bedroom to play quietly by herself; announcing with the responsibility of a firstborn that there are “choking hazards” on the floor and Sophie needs to stay out. Fair enough. During these respites from her bothersome younger sis, I try to engage the little one with toys in her own room.

Frustrated and confused, Sophie races down the hallway to her sister’s closed bedroom door. “No-nock!” she bellows, banging her tiny fists against the door. “No-nock!” When I gently remind her, “Sissy’s doing her own work in her room right now. Sissy says you can play later,” she throws herself to the floor in despair and sobs.

As a mother, it hurts, but it is only a small taste of what is to come. Sophie faces years of waiting by the front door while her older sister rushes off to a friend’s house, a school function, or a date with a boyfriend. Izzy deserves to have things in her life that are just hers, particularly considering the age difference between the two of them.

Of course, there is always a trade-off to any parenting challenge. We also get the privilege and pleasure of watching our daughters love each other. For all the moments when Izzy angrily shouts, “SO-PHIEEEE!” there is an equal moment of harmony between the girls. It makes my heart swell to watch my oldest child protect and nurture her sister when we take them places together, and it is so rewarding to see my toddler reach out her arms and request, “Hug, Siss-siss?”

Times like that make it all worthwhile.

Stephanie Sprenger is the mother of two daughters, ages six and almost one. As a control freak living amongst chaos, blogging has been a satisfying outlet for her parental angst; combining her passion for writing and helping mothers connect, at Stephanie Sprenger.

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