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Slice of Life Sunday – My Sisters

May 6, 2008

SOL Participant 2

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode .

I have received such joy from all the slice of life stories written by friends I have made here in blogsville. I have also become inspried to write more of my own. I would like to share the following Slice of Life based on the prompt: My Sister(s)
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Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.  ~Margaret Mead

 

 

I read this quote many years ago and my first thought was how much I wished it were true for me and my two sisters. I am the middle girl of three sisters, each born 15 months after the other. We were followed several years later by two brothers. Our oldest brother David died of pneumonia when he was only three months old. I have no memory of David except for stories told by our mother and his grave stone at the cemetery which I put flowers on every year for Memorial Day. I also have limited memories of my brother Rick growing up, but then I left home due to an unplanned marriage at age 16, he was 11. I do however have many memories of the turbulent relationship between us girls, both as children and as adults.

 

My older sister, Toupey (family nickname, of course) was the first grandchild born on my mother’s side of the family, and the first blond-haired grandbaby on my dad’s. She was a healthy nine pound baby born with a head full of blond ringlets and the biggest blue eyes, a definite contender for a picture perfect “Ivory Baby”. She enjoyed 15 months of being the apple of everyone’s eye before I came along and stole some of her spotlight. From day one, we were as opposite as two sisters could be. I was very small, just barely over 5 pounds at birth. I too had a head full of hair, but I was definitely a Myers baby with the traditional dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. She had been loud-spoken since the day she was born and I was the quiet one. The family joke has been how Toupey didn’t like me the first time she saw me. She even kicked/pushed me off the couch with her feet when I was only 3 or 4 weeks old. I was cramping her style and she was claiming her territory. My Aunt Idie told me several years ago she always worried about me when I was little due to my sister’s jealousy. She believes the only thing that saved me was our younger sister was born, who Toupey liked even less than me. Joy-Joy (ahh yes, family nickname) was a sickly child despite being a healthy eight pounds at birth. She demanded much of our mother’s attention due to one illness after another. I have been told I didn’t appear to mind this, but Toupey was livid. So much so, she was accused, although never actually proved, of causing several accidents in which Joy-Joy received numerous bruises, cuts and scraps. And this was before Joy-Joy was even five years old. Of course, our relationships never got better, only worse.

 

As I look back on our childhood, I can see where our mother purposely  increased the level of natural sister competition to a battle for her approval.  Her favorite motivational theme was, “Why can’t you do this as well as Toupey?” “Cricket does this so much better, why can’t you get this right like she does?” “Joy-Joy can do this, I can’t believe you two are older and can’t!” The foundation of our mother’s child rearing skills was one of promoting competition to gain her love.

 

The competition between Toupey and I only increased when she failed kindergarten and we ended up going through school together, many years in the same classroom due to the smallness of the school. I bowed out of the competition for mother’s approval when Toupey and I were in the fifth grade. We brought our report cards home and I eagerly displayed my all A’s before dinner. My dad looked at the card and said, “Yep, what I figured it would be.” My mother barely glanced at the card and gave no response. My sister withheld her report card until forced to produce it. She had all D’s and one C. The C had been a D the term before. Our mother made such a major issue out of that C, about how wonderful it was that Toupey had raised her grade. She was so happy about that C, she went to the kitchen and baked a cake to celebrate the occasion. That was a turning point for me. I couldn’t get a simple “good job” for all A’s but my sister earned a cake for one C. I did not eat a piece of the cake. I was full, not from dinner, but full of rage at being treated like a red-headed step-child. And I was done – done with competing for our mother’s attention and her love. I don’t think she even noticed, but then she had my older sister and my younger sister at each other’s throats, literally, trying to win her approval.

 

The habits of childhood carried into adulthood. Both of my sisters vied for our mother’s attention and love everyday up until the day she died. I remained aloof, and was accused of thinking I was better than everyone because I kept my distance. To this day, my sisters have no understanding of my actions. I did not think I was better than them. I simply chose to loose the competition and forfeit the prize. 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2008 2:01 am

    Your Slice Of Life posts are always so moving, so heartfelt. I can completely relate to that competitiveness between sisters. I’ve been dealing with it all my life. I also keep my distance because I am not a competitive person. It’s a shame so many siblings feel they have to do this.

    ~~Hi Selma, Thank you for the kind praise. I must admit that I am actually a competitive person. I just chose to bow out of this competition because I knew I would never be good enough for my mom. Cricket

  2. May 6, 2008 10:22 am

    This is a wonderful post. I applaud you for having the wisdom at such a young and tender age to gracefully bow out of the competition!!! That makes you a winner in my book. It is sad what parents do to their children…my own mother was good for smothering my oldest brother with guilt in order to get what she wanted. He is still a mess.

    ~~ Hi Phyl. I am glad you enjoyed my post. I was hoping I wouldn’t burn people out with negativity, but that has been a major part of my life. Yes, some mother’s have a Master’s degree in knowing how layer on the guilt. It rarely works out for them though. Cricket

  3. adamswife permalink
    May 10, 2008 2:24 pm

    I’m sorry that you do not have sweet, loving memories of your sisters. Sadly many parents seem lacking in proper parental skills and make things uncomfortable because of it. Since none of us is perfect, I think we need to forgive them their mistakes and try very hard to remember the good things they have done. Happy memories are so much easier to live with. {{Hugs}} to you and a wish that you might yet find friendship with your sisters.

    ~~ Thank you Eve for your concern. As far as my sisters and I, we maintain our distance in emotional contact. We do see each other for holidays and have managed to remain civil, at least at my house. I know the other two have had a few bad scenes, but thankfully I was not there. Cricket

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