While I would never be so brazen as to assign any silver linings to the events of the last five months, I am willing to reflect on a few things I’m particularly grateful for during what I can only describe as the weirdest spring/summer ever. One of those things has been the time my girls got to spend with each other.
My children are 10 years apart, and as is my nature, I worried about that. I worried they’d grow up in entirely different childhoods, with little to no points of connection between them. (I was ten thousand percent wrong about all of this by the way, but that’s about what I’ve come to expect with worry.) When things started to get real with COVID in mid-March, my tween left school for Spring Break never to return to her beloved elementary school. The little one had been in her “school” for about a month when she ended up at home with us too. I work from home full time, and while it was a hot mess express while we finished the school year, we made it.
This summer, we cashed in on the age gap big time: my tween, with literally nothing else going on, accepted her first salaried position at the tender age of 11. She signed on for Big Sister Summer Camp, and kept the toddler entertained/alive while I worked. And while it was not perfect, the gift was this: from March to August, I got to watch my two girls bonding and growing up – albeit in totally different phases of childhood – becoming their own little selves, together.
The toddler learned more words in these 5 months than I ever thought possible. She knows all kinds of things (words, showtunes, TikTok trends) because “sissy” taught her. I’m sending her to school again this fall, knowing she can communicate her needs well, thanks to her time with her sister. And my big girl: she got very tall and became a little caretaker like I never expected. While it wasn’t the most fun summer ever, she got good at her job, and gained a kind of self-efficacy you can only get from getting good at a job. I’m sending her to school again this fall (middle school no less) with a totally new sense of confidence, thanks to her time with her sister. They bonded in a way I don’t think they will ever outgrow.
They won’t live in the same house forever.
But they’ll always remember the weird summer they spent growing up, together.
I’ve realized we carry a lot of expectations with us into adulthood. Whether it’s when we’ll get married or when we’ll have babies and how many we’ll have; and then we bring them all with us into our families. And things almost never go according to plan, in one way or another. While I grieved that my girls wouldn’t be in school together or share clothes, I’m watching how it all shook out and realizing that I wouldn’t trade any of it. All of the expectations that didn’t pan out were sad in their way, but if even one of them had worked out how I hoped at the time, we wouldn’t be here today, with exactly the family we have.
It wasn’t how we originally planned things, maybe, but it’s how things happened. And at that point, what choice do you have but to lean in? Watching these two sisters, our two girls, find each other in their own ways despite and because of their age difference is the gift that keeps on giving. My hope for them is this:
May they always find each other in the weird times,
and may no times in their lives be as weird as 2020 has been.