Stay-at-Home Panda

Stay-at-Home Panda

An adventure of triumphs and troubles as a mother, wife, and woman

I Remember When My Sister Was Born…

I remember praying for you. I already had two brothers, but still, I wanted a sister with all of my heart. Mom told me to pray, and I did. Every single day.

I remember when you were born. I was eight when I walked into that Las Vegas hospital to meet you for the first time. I remember your tiny little body being placed in my arms, and when I got a good look at your angelic face I said, “Mare Bear”. I thought I was so clever, and I still haven’t been given enough credit for the name.

As the months passed, I made it my duty to check on you. When you napped for what seemed too long, I’d put my 9-year-old fingers under your nostrils just to be sure you were breathing. Sometimes I’d just stare at you in your bassinet, feeling comforted by the sight of your chest rising and falling.

I carried you around like you were my very own baby doll, and once you supported your own neck, I made my hip your constant seat. We had conversations, long before you could even talk, and I’ll never forget the way, even as an infant, you could intuit when I was upset. You’d take your little baby paws and rub my back as I held you. I’d notice, and tell you exactly what was going on, and you’d lovingly rest your head on my shoulder. You were always wise beyond your years, and our age gap never put any distance between us.

As soon as you could walk, you fought. You were born feisty, and could knock down Patrick who was 3 years older than you with one good hit. Of course we didn’t fight. We never did, never have. That’s something we reserved for our brothers, for we only supported, encouraged, and picked each other up.

I remember when you were three, and had straggly hair. Mom wanted to give you a good cut, but you refused. She asked me to snip it while you slept, and I gave you a good cut indeed. But when you woke up, and saw what I did, you were so upset with me, like I betrayed you. I apologized profusely, and I’m pretty sure I cried real tears over letting you down.

At four and five, we’d take showers together. We’d lay our towels out on the floor when we got out and put lotion all over our bodies. We’d put our jammies on, and do stretches and exercises in front of my closet mirrors. Your friendship was better than any toy Christmas could bring.

When I got my driver’s license at 17, you were the first person to ride with me. During that initial week, I ran into a curb and popped a tire, and you still haven’t let me live that down. You see, you’re sweet, but you’re wicked too, with a real good sense of humor.

It doesn’t matter how old I was, or how young you were- we went everywhere together. I’d take you bowling with my friends, to their houses, to swim in their pools, to amusement parks, and on adventures to the city. My friends parents’ didn’t only know Amanda. They knew Amanda’s little sister, too. I never minded either because you always cracked everyone up with your sweet face, fiery temper, and witty ways. Plus, you always rolled with whatever came your way. I could take you into a hippie shop, and you wouldn’t complain, you’d just find a drum or a necklace you liked.

I remember the time I took you to Dunkin Donuts. We parked, and when you opened the door, you hit the car beside you. I told you to get back in and we’d find another spot. When we did, you did the same thing all over again. And it didn’t matter that you were nicking cars left and right, we laughed uncontrollably.

When you were in third grade, we moved a thousand miles from each other. You moved to Florida with Mom and Pat to be with Dad, and I stayed in Philadelphia to go to college. I’d come to visit you during every break, and get little rubber bands to braid your hair and do you up right. I’d drive you to school, and pick you up, and these activities were always the highlight of my days. From then on, we relied on long visits and snuggles, and every time I left, I’d find cards and notes from you, hidden in my bags, filled with the most beautiful words from the most beautiful soul, my sister.

We’d drive around jamming hard to Jill Scott. We’d spend entire evenings choreographing dances to songs by the Black Eyed Peas, and we’d stroll through Kohl’s while dancing to Hall & Oats. As you grew, so did the stories you had to share. I’ll never forget the very first time you told me about going to a party and drinking too much. I was riding my bike late at night, amused by your changes, and honored by your openness with me.

When I flew back to New Jersey from the Caribbean to have Javin, it was your bed I shared, and your life I lived for. I scheduled my days around taking you to school, and picking you up. I picture you now trying to wrap your legs in mine as we slept. We’d go out and share a chicken cheese steak and talk forever about everything which is so special, because we truly understand each other’s experiences because we’ve shared them. Our histories haven’t always been simple or easy, but we’ve had each other through them all.

When I went into labor, we swung into your high school on the way to the hospital to pick you up. You held my hand and laughed through every contraction, and when the baby was born, you were the one right there with me. I’ll never forget your face through it all, and if you decide to never have children, I’ll understand why. As I adjusted to becoming a mother, it became clear that something was different. I didn’t share your bed. I didn’t run out with you looking for prom dresses and boots, and in some ways it seemed like we might not belong to each other in quite the same way anymore. But the truth is, we could never not belong to one another. As you turn 22, I can’t help but think about how we have been there for every part of each other’s lives. And the special thing about a sister is that it’s not a role you grow out of, or a friend from childhood you leave behind. You, my sister, are my very best friend, and I am glad to say I’ve known you from the day your were born, and have enjoyed every phase and stage of life with you since. On your 22nd birthday, I celebrate the evolution of our relationship, and want you to know that although I’ve always been the older one, and knew you looked up to me, the truth is, I’ve always looked up to you, too.




About Amanda Elder

Amanda has a background in education, but now spends most of her time snuggling her kids, wiping their butts, and doing house chores in her underwear.

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