Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Empty Nest

For anyone who is a first child, or an older sibling, there was probably a day where your parents sat you down to tell you that mommy is pregnant and that you are going to be (in my case) a big sister.

I don't remember the day this happened to me, but I'm sure that my parents communicated to me that I was going to have a very important job of looking after my baby sister. They probably gave me a book to help explain the changes that were to come and what being a big sister entails.

There are books parents can buy to help them through different developmental stages in their children's lives, and books that help them deal with siblings that aren't getting along.

And when this time finally comes, there are books available for parents to help them cope with their children going off to college. Describing how things will change, and how to adjust to the changes that will take place.

They don't make books for big sisters telling them how to deal with their little growing up and going away to college.

I chose to go to a college in the same state as my family because 1) I got a full ride to any in-state school, and 2) I wanted to be near them still.

I knew that being near them would make the transition much easier on everyone. And I have loved being able to be near my family still.

My parents are going to have an empty nest, but they don't have to go through the "mourning" process that most empty nesters have to go through because they have me, the one who stayed.
Me, the one who does have to go through the mourning process because nobody told me that 1/3 of that nest was going to up and leave one day.

I was the oldest meaning I got to decide whether or not the little was ready for me to be gone. So I thought I was going to be the only one who ever got to make a choice, and my choice was - hey lets all just stay near each other.

When I left for college, my big sister job status went form "working overtime" to "working full time."
And now that the little sister is leaving for college I'm going from "working full time" to "working very part time."

And I'm not sure I can continue to make a living with these hours. 

Most employers give you a heads up that your hours are going to get cut before it happens, give you support and help you cope and perhaps find another job if you aren't going to be able to support yourself with the hours that they can give you. But I was not given this warning. It happened out of nowhere. Granted I was given 18 years, but I was oblivious to the fact that my duties weren't going to be required as much.

I don't know if younger siblings are ever explicitly told, which makes it really special when they do finally come to know, that they have a duty too. But there comes a day where the little sibling has to start looking out for the big sibling.

I'm just now realizing this might be why there is a difference between first borns and the youngest (when there are only two). For the first borns - they take you at your most vulnerable time of your life and tell you that you are going to have a job for the rest of your life to take care of your baby sister. This is something that you have known your whole life and feel obliged (happily obliged) to carry out your job per your parents instructions. As a first born I have been dependent on this title for basically my whole life.

And the youngest ones, they get to find this out for themselves. They realize that as they get older, the oldest one is also going to need some looking after. This is why the youngest can be independent. The baby comes into the world with no duties, nobody to look after other than themselves. They learn about their job when they have grown enough to realize that the oldest is actually in need of a "big sibling."  They come into their role on their own. They don't do it because their parents told them to. They weren't always defining themselves as the one who had to be the stronger one. They were the baby, they could do what they wanted and could be carefree.

This is why my sister has the ability to leave the nest cause lets be honest, I didn't really leave, and I don't think I have the ability to leave, nor do I want to.

My sisters senior year was not an easy one. Nobody makes it out of high school with out some tales of battle, but her senior year alone was more tolling than what most others go though in their four years of high school.

If you have talked to me about my sister leaving for college, I've probably told you that she's not ready. That I don't think she will be able to do it on her own.

But I am basing this entirely off my experiences. I wouldn't have been able to do it on my own. I wouldn't have been strong enough. I was not ready to leave. And I am also probably saying she's not ready because in all actuality, I am nowhere near ready for her to leave.

I can think of no reason for why Haily had to have such a rough senior year, other than it was preparing all of us for her leaving the nest. It was testing her to see if she had the strength to take whatever life put on her plate. And it was proving to us that she indeed would be ready to take on the world, even if we weren't on duty full time anymore.

I feel like I have grown so much closer to my sister in the past three years/since I moved out. As we've gotten older in age, the more we can relate to each other; the more I feel like we are friends.
This year we have spent many weekends hanging out together because neither of us had anything else to do. And we never early did much, but I have loved those nights.

I don't want to miss out on all the opportunities I would have to grow closer to her if she were to stay in state and hang out with me at ASU for a year before she decided to go off to California for college. But I am coming to realize that I would be keeping her from opportunities she has to grow on her own. I don't want her to need us and her not be able to have us at her side in 30 minutes. But this is growing up, and both her and I are going to learn how to be in a long distance sister relationship.

If you ask me now about my sister going to college, I will tell you that I believe with all my heart that my sister is strong enough to go live in California on her own. She is the strongest girl I know.

No matter what, my sister is always going to need me (I just am always going to need her to need me).  Even if my job is only part time, I am going to be the best part timer the world has ever seen. And now when we do get to see each other after being apart, the time will be even more special.

I love you little fist and know you will do great things at Point Loma. 

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