Happy National Siblings Day!

Today is National Siblings Day. It’s a day to celebrate that special and sometimes torturous bond we have with the other children our parents decided to have. Last year on National Siblings Day, I had two brothers. I am the oldest. I was the tattle-tale, I was the one my parents “learned on” and because of that I have always been a chronic overachiever because you never knew what you’d get in trouble for. My brothers, in my mind anyway, had a much easier paved road to traverse, because of me! I was the only girl, therefore my brothers’ favorite sister. Over the years, we’ve grown, moved, became parents, and became people. It’s not as easy to be close as it once was.

This National Siblings Day looks so different for me. I’m not going to be sending out two text messages but rather six. Quick backstory. My brothers and I lost our mother when I was 20, 19, and 15. Our mother was adopted when she was in her teens and I knew she had two brothers. I have spent the better part of a decade looking for those siblings of hers in hopes of answering questions for them in case they had been looking for her. My husband purchased me a DNA test kit in 2018 to take in hopes of finding her family. Maybe they had also taken the DNA test and we would be matched. Last fall, I found my first DNA match! A first cousin! She messaged me on Facebook and let me know that we were connected but we weren’t connected through my mother, but my father. My father? My father is living, so is my stepfather. I happen to know all of their children.

Last October, I joined an online video call with my new cousin and two other women I had only learned about 48 hours prior. We all chatted nervously trying to figure out what the heck our parents were doing 40 years ago. One of these two women was my sister, we just didn’t know which one. There were only two men that could have been my father. We agreed that the three of us would take a DNA test via mail to see who I belonged to. It was a long couple of weeks as one of the women never received her test and the wait was excruciating. One evening, I received a Facebook message from a man I didn’t know but knew to be a relative. He asked if I wanted to talk. I wasn’t sure how to respond but so I asked why. He replied that he was my brother. Oh! The results were in! I was the proud new sister to three brothers and one amazing sister.

From there, things moved rather quickly. It’s Covid times so we haven’t been able to meet in person but added each other on social media, we set up video calls, we started texting. We’ve tried to make up for the lost 40 years. The thing we circle back to as siblings is that God brought us together in His perfect timing. As we have talked, I learned that they used to spend summers at a club kitty-corner from the house I grew up in. To think we were so close yet so far away do many years. We’ve lived juxtaposed to one another our whole lives. I think of how a flat tire might’ve meant that they stopped outside of my childhood home. I think of how excited I would have been to have different kids to play with than the brothers I already had, even if it was for the duration of time it took to fix a flat. I think of us staring at each other not knowing how deeply we were connected. I wonder if my mother would have recognized their father. Would she have known that I was his? Would they have recognized each other or would they felt a familiarity but find themselves unable to pinpoint a place and time they would have met? We have yet to figure out just how my mother came across their father. We have so many questions that will never be answered. What we know is that we want to make the best of our future together.

As if finding four new siblings wasn’t exciting enough for one year, this year our oldest son became a big brother. Watching him navigate the process of instantly becoming a sibling has been heartwarming. As we deal with Covid times, my 4-year-old often prays for a friend and laments not having people his own age to play with. When he gets really sad I tell him this story:

“God knew I was lonely so he gave me you. I was so happy to not be alone! Then God saw that you felt lonely, too, and so he sent Sammy. Sammy is your forever friend.”

He’s still working out what being brother means. Sometimes it means having to share toys and time but other times it means eating your brother’s candy because he is, after all, just a baby. Sometimes it’s being protective like reminding your parents to count to three before losing patience with the baby that never naps. Sometimes it’s showing off your hot new skills that are unachievable to your siblings. Sometimes it’s cracking jokes about your parents’ other child.

If you’re an only child, remember this, we are all brothers and sisters in our faith. The sibling relationship is one of vulnerability. We are peers but we learn from each other. If we could approach friendships the way we do siblingship, with total acceptance and regular forgiveness we can achieve that incredible and intimate bond that we have with those other kids our parents have.

Happy Siblings Day!

Written by: Crystal Harris, Communications Specialist