To My Daughters, On Being a Big Sister to a Little Sister

“Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child.” —Barbara Alpert

Big Sister. Three out of the four of you–Avayah, Adalynne, and Amelia–hold this coveted title.

Anabella, my littlest darling, you will learn being the baby of four sisters is a valuable windfall. You will be revered with sympathy first because how could you know better, you’re the baby. Own this adage, it will garner you protection. Nobody puts baby in the corner. Nobody.

To my three oldest daughters, over the course of the next decade, you will challenge, or doubt my advice on sisterhood, but my darlings you will soon see everything I write is true. I am a prophet, okay, not really, but just believe your mother for once, okay?

To date, I’m going on nearly 27 years of experience holding the big sister title. Omitting the fact that I cannot remember anything before the age of 10 (yes, I fell and hit my head in childhood. That’s a lie.).

Truly, I don’t remember much before the age of five, but a quarter of a century holds rank.  It’s a fact. People start respecting your opinion by age 25, therefore my advice is legit.

Holding this title {Big Sister} means there are certain truths you will soon acknowledge, here are a few…or ten, in no particular order.


We are a village. My sister, my beauties, her fur babies (Emma & Athena), and me.

The first and foremost, I’ve already witnessed in each of you and yet none of you are even into double digit ages.

You believe you are a mother too. It happened the moment your younger sibling took their first breath. You became in charge of them. It’s gospel, no one can make you believe otherwise. Period. (This topic will probably be the biggest fight each of you will share with me. I fought against this feeling with my mother too. “Sarah, you are not the mother. It’s not your job to discipline.” I usually heard this after I pulled a judo-chop on my baby sister, or gave her a real life Harry Potter scar for God knows what.)

Two, you can inflict pain (judo-chops), be mean (snickering, you are u-ga-leeee), but no one outside the sister circle can. Ever. Defend one another’s honor, even when it hurts, bad. Even if that means the neighbor boy punches you in the face, because you’re defending your baby sister and you punch him back in the mouth. Even if that means his mama, who’s three times the size of me, comes stomping up on our doorstep ready to defend his honor. You do it anyway—just like my mama, I have your back (and I’ve shown you how to dial 911), always.

Three, no one will show you truer loyalty than your sister. Sisters are the most secure vault in the entire universe (even the FBI, CIA can’t hack into them), share trade secrets (like how to sneak out of the house—I take that back, do not, I repeat, do not trade that one—I have security cameras) and dump your baggage on them…even the really ugly stuff. Like a body they will dispose of it without telling a soul. Better, they will love you through it, no matter the condition. They may reprimand you, yell at you, and think they can ground you, because they believe they are your mother too, but they will love you through it.

Four, they will safeguard your fragile teenage dignity.  They will reaffirm your delusions, “of course (your secret crush) is totally in-love with you.  Yeah, he was totally staring at you at lunch.”  And when your boyfriend breaks up with you, your sister won’t tell anyone you stayed up all night crying, listening to the cd that now ex-boyfriend made you, while ripping apart all the pictures (after you drew horns on their head and x’s on their eyes) you took together, and then stabbed the heart of the voodoo doll you made of said ex-boyfriend–I’m kidding, seriously.

Five, learn to share your clothing and have patience when your baby sister stains everything she wears without asking. Do not in the dead of winter throw an empty bubble container (because she spilled its contents all over your clothes you’d laid out for the next morning for school) at her face, hitting her on the bridge of her nose. Because her nose will spray blood like a water hose, and I will rush into the room, see her bleeding out and go full-blown hulk on you.

Six, each of you are so different in comparison to one another now, it’s hard for me to imagine how different you will be from one another when you mature into young women. Choose to respect one another’s views, even when they differ from your own, even when you don’t understand it, or flat-out disagree with it. Celebrate each other, even if that means stocking your fridge, when your baby sister comes to stay, with organics because she believes she’s vegan.  She will come back to cheeseburgers.  We all do.

Seven, nothing of this world—pride, money, emotions, men will be worth your relationship with one another. You can be mad at one another, even dislike one another sometimes, but you will love another. It’s my gospel. It would shatter my heart for you to disown one another. Just like growing old, sisterhood is a privilege, respect it. You are individuals with similarities, differences, opinions, but you are family first—when you feel deeply upset, even betrayed and want to choke one another out, refer to the first thing your own mother learned. You will feel like each other’s mothers and a mother’s love is unconditional, infinite, and profound.  Plus, you don’t want mama’s wrath–nothing makes me madder than when you hurt one another.

Eight, don’t hate your baby sister when you have kids before her and your body is marred, floppy, and mirrors some pages out of Nat Geo and she’s prancing around all toned and taut—she has it coming too.  You hold your head high and remember every stretch mark, ripple, roll, and ounce of saggy skin you have is nothing in comparison to the joy of children.  Practice self-love, because your baby sister will need you to give her encouragement, same way you needed it, after she has children.

Nine, your sister will carry my spirit, indefinitely. And so will you. When I make you mad, disappoint you, or we disagree, your sister will be your sounding board against me.  She will stand by you, affirming that I’m the meanest mom ever.  I won’t like it, but somewhere deep within I will smile knowing your sisterhood bond is strong.  We will have many trials, some silly and some of great importance and sorrow, but we will get through them, because I refuse to choose anything less than love for my daughters.  Remind me of this when you and your sisters have pushed me to the very edge–my head will be spinning, my mouth will be growling, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out!”, and your dad will be hiding, terrified.

Ten, I have learned you will fight, hurt, and be beautiful messes together as sisters, but if you don’t keep striving to keep the balance between forgiveness and love, you will miss the beauty of sisterhood.  Every relationship takes work, some more than others, but the key is effort–when you love someone, every effort is truly effortless.

With less than three years apart in age, over the course of our childhood all the way to this very moment of the present, I have loved my sister, I have celebrated, disappointed, honored, betrayed, and hurt her, been the source of many tears–good and bad–of hers, I have made her sick with laughter, I have defended, supported, respected…but most importantly, I have pledged to love her, her whole life–she is my first love.  She is the softest, most compassionate person I know.  For all the years I thought I was teaching her, she was really teaching me–all the values that make a soul sing.


She is forever one of my happiest moments.

May you four, my daughters, always value each other as sisters and covet one of life’s most defining titles.  Big Sister.


Your Mama


Courtney, you own so much of me, it’s been everything and more to be your big sister.  Thank you for most importantly your love, for me, for Travis, and the greatest, my daughters.  I love you endlessly.  –Sissy


Author: Sarah Black

I'm a self-professed 'Drama Mama'...of four daughters, I blog to (over)share my stories on learning to maintain my sanity by strictly eating laughter in the emotional land of motherhood while trying to keep my husband from running away from the sheer amount of estrogen flooding our house.

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