Being a new mom, is NEW. I have never been a mom before. In fact, exactly a year ago is when I first felt little Noah Jackson flutter inside my tummy, and that’s when it got very real for me. There is a human inside me and I am his mother…all of the wonderful, hard, beautiful things that will mean in the years to come. But before I was a mom, I was a big sister. I literally hold no memory of not being a big sister. I was 2 1/2 years old when my little brother, Jackson, was born. He was my real life baby doll and I adored everything about him right from the start. There would be seven more little “baby dolls” to come. (Are you keeping count? Eight little siblings, plus me, plus my one big brother…That’s a grand total of ten kids!)
Yes, being a mom is new to me…But taking care of little humans? Wiping noses, counting heads, singing lullabies, teaching, feeding, snuggling a small person who looks up to you? That has always been apart of my life, for as long as I can remember.
my parents role:
I know of some folks who would say that this is not fair, big siblings helping out so much with their little siblings. They didn’t ask for all of those kids, they have their own lives to live, it’s not their responsibility to raise your kids…And that part is true. Big siblings aren’t responsible for their little siblings upbringing. That charge is given by God specifically to parents.
My parents have always been particularly good at the kind of balance that is necessary to make it all work. Growing up they gave me the space and respect for the other responsibilities, roles, and people that filled up my life: serving at church, a high school job, my own daily routine, my friends, events, hobbies, etc
But alongside of all that, they taught me this: There will always, always, always be someone younger than you, to pour into. To mentor, to educate, to love, to give to. We are called to love God and then to love others. The little siblings in my life are those God-appointed “others.”
If not handled well, I can see how some big siblings in large families could have some resentment. But in my own experience, I am only grateful.
5 Things I am Grateful for:
- The thousands of memories I can string together, of tiny hands tucked in mine, of snuggly warm small bodies, of bright eyes watching as you teach them something new. Little children have a special kind of magic if you are paying attention, and I’ve gotten to witness that time and again.
- The childcare experience I’ve picked up over the years. Taking care of an infant isn’t new to me, simply because my parents brought me along for the ride and took the time to teach big sister how to help out, even when I was little.
- Practical, daily patience that I have already started to learn. I already know that a beach walk on family vacation isn’t on my own time table. It means that I am stopping every few steps to see what the 7 year old just discovered about the shore line, and hurrying him along. Then hollering up to the older two, who have gotten too far ahead…while holding the growing pile of sand dollars pieces they have all handed me to carry for them. Patience is a must.
- The practice of slowing down. Did you know something? Two year olds take FOR-EV-ER to finish a sentence! Two year old twin sisters, who basically had their own fully-developed language? Crazy slow! Slowing down to decipher what they were trying to communicate took some practice. Learning to give them your full attention. But when you learn to go slow, you enjoy life more, and see more of those magical moments.
- Knowing the value of the moment in front of me. I have the benefit of already knowing just how fast childhood goes. I’ve seen so many newborn siblings learn to roll over, crawl, sit up, start to walk…Watching them form their first words, develop their favorite foods to eat…Go from just starting to learn sight words, to devouring all of the Magic Tree House books as fast as they can. I know that they grow up in a blink of an eye, so savor each sweet moment in front of you.
Being a Big Sister is a gift:
Maybe you aren’t a parent. Maybe you have been given the gift of being a big sibling. Treasure it and learn from your role. Know that God has placed you here for a purpose, and will use you in that younger one’s life. Maybe you are a parent, raising lots of little ones. Give those big siblings the opportunity to embrace their gift, to rise to the occasion, to give what they can to those little siblings. I truly believe big siblings play a huge role in establishing the heartbeat of a family unit. Being a big sister has radically shaped my life in a beautiful way, and for that, I am so grateful.
Embrace that gift!