Katie was five when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. She had wanted a sibling for so long, and when we found out the baby was going to be another girl, we were all elated. Especially Katie. I had always wanted a sister; the bond between sisters is unbreakable. They would be best friends, I was sure.
And then Julia was born.
To say that Julia was a difficult baby is an understatement. She was born just plain pissed off, and for several months the only thing that would placate her was the boob and endless walking. No matter how much Katie tried to entertain her, tried to make her laugh, tried to build that bond, Julia would have none of it. Until she was 6 months old, Julia couldn’t stand anyone but me, not even her sweet, devoted sister.
Julia eventually learned to appreciate, and even idolize, her big sister. But those first few months were rough. They were so rough that when we told the girls we were having a third child, Katie burst into tears, ran from the room, and locked herself in her closet.
Who could blame her?
Now, at nearly 11 and 5, they are the best of friends and the worst of enemies. Six years age difference is an eternity when you’re a little kid, and sometimes that chasm cannot be crossed. My heart breaks for Julia when she watches her sister fly out the door to yet another activity or sleepover. Likewise, I feel bad for Katie when she’s trying so hard to be a big kid, with Julia pestering her non-stop, copying every move she makes.
Sometimes they are at each other’s throats so terribly that it’s hard to tell who the worse offender is. Sometimes they are hitting and pinching and pushing and pulling so much that it is all I can do not to yell Keep you goddamn hands off each other! as I separate them.
JULIA MARGARET! Katie yells at her sister.
KATIE MARGARET! Julia yells back, because she doesn’t ever seem to remember that they don’t share the same middle name.
Then sometimes they will disappear for hours into the playroom and I’ll find them in the middle of a Barbie-doll city or playing school or cuddled up together under a blanket watching a movie. They shower each other with kisses between hair pulls and when Katie says “Oh, I love you, Baby.” it makes me melt.
It makes me think – there might be something to this Sisterly Love after all.