When we were kids, my little sister Madison and I were the M&Ms — my parents' duo of daughters. We were the only kids among friends and family since my parents got married and had the two of us before age 30. As sisters we received a lot of attention, and we liked it that way. So it was quite a surprise when my mom and dad sat us down to let us know that baby number three was on the way; I was 10 years old. To say the least, my sister and I were a little perplexed at the thought of some new baby coming to town and turning our world upside down. Little did I know that this new baby would change my life forever.
As soon as my brother Mac was born, he completely stole my heart. Even at almost 11 years old, I created a bond with this tiny little baby that most people don't get to experience until they are much older. It's been 15 years since Mac was born, so I've learned a few things from having a young brother. Here's my case for spread-out siblings:
- You learn about responsibility early on. Having an infant in your life means watching your parents endlessly change diapers, make bottles, and wipe spit-up. Every once in awhile, I was allowed to do those things (under parental supervision), and I learned just how important it was to take care of this little life before I even hit middle school. Needless to say, I was an excellent babysitter.
- You watch a child grow up. I remember the first time Mac crawled, walked, and said my name. I remember how excited my family was when we discovered how fast of a reader he was in kindergarten. I'll never forget telling him bedtime stories before he went to sleep at night, and I especially won't forget when he told me about his first "girlfriend" when he started middle school. I'm watching this kid grow up into a man — well, more like a pubescent teen — but you get the picture. It's cool to think about the entirety of his life and how far he has come. I have been able to experience that.
- You stay in the know. Most 20-somethings don't know what the heck Minecraft is. I didn't, either, until my hip, tech-savvy brother told me about the video game. And that's not the first thing he's told me about. I work in a trend-driven editorial environment, and my brother still manages to find out things before me. Good thing he has no problem telling me that I actually don't know about anything cool at all.
- You teach your sibling life lessons. From a young age, my brother watched my sister and me overcome personal challenges, go to high school, and, worst of all, get our hearts broken. Nothing makes Mac more upset than a mean guy who hurts a girl's feelings. We joke that Mac is going to be the best husband ever when he grows up, but he really will be. Watching his sisters go through life's tribulations has taught him how he should act when he gets older.
- You create an incredible bond. I have no shame in telling people that one of my best friends is a 15-year-old boy. Now that I don't live with my family anymore, I feel this incredible guilt if I go too long without seeing my siblings. When the three of us are together, it's pretty much the best time ever. Even though Mac and I are aged so far apart, we have this assurance of trust and understanding between us. He looks up to me and knows he can tell me everything; I look to him for comic relief and a really good hug when I arrive back home.
So if that doesn't convince you that siblings with big age gaps are a good thing, I don't know what will. All I can say is that my family wouldn't be the same without Mac. In fact, our family without him is unimaginable. So thanks, Mom and Dad, for turning the M&Ms into the Three Musketeers.