Once certain ideas leave our lips, they have the capacity to start a chain reaction and jinx whatever goodness we might be talking about—like the relationship between our kids. In fact, I’m probably dooming myself by talking about the bond between my girls. But what the hell, I’m doing it for the greater good of humanity, so I'll take the hit.
I feel strongly that, as parents, we all need to be occasionally reassured that our children will, eventually, stop annoying the crap out of each other. Someday. And it’s because this information is so critical to the emotional survival of all the parents of multiple kids out there, that I feel like it’s my responsibility to pass along even the smallest nugget of proof that it is, actually, possible for our kids to be friends.
See, my girls are probably textbook examples of how siblings can both love and infuriate each other at the exact same time. They’re typical sisters—always in each other’s face, always under each other’s skin, always and forever annoying each other simply by breathing and chewing. But they’ve also unconditionally got each other’s backs on any given day, which, is both mindboggling and awe-inspiring to me, especially as the only child that I am.
Because, while Dave and I were always absolutely sure that our girls had the ability to be each other’s best friend, the reality is that people who live together, under the same roof, just inherently find ways to piss each other off. It’s just human nature. Especially with kids.
Now I know that not all siblings go at it with each other. Some just happily coexist for a variety of different reasons like chemistry or age difference or gender or personality. But I do know that it’s more common than not that siblings go through phases when they can’t stand the sight of each other. And while I’m certainly not saying that that’s what my girls are like, because they’re not, they’ve definitely honed the ability to irritate each other in ways that defy explanation, just by virtue of being in the same room together.
Whether it’s blinking too loudly or leaving too much hair in the sink or “borrowing” too much eyebrow gel, the two of them have an uncanny way of knowing which buttons to push with each other that inevitably triggers the most intense reaction possible.
Like when Libby was FaceTiming with Riley last week while Riley was in her dorm room with her friends. Libby thought that going into Riley’s bedroom at home and pretending to move stuff around was the perfect way to mess with her big sister. Which, of course, it was. Or when Riley waits until Libby gets up from the couch to refill her water glass and then slides into her spot, staking claim under the You-Snooze-You-Lose Rule.
But when one of them is in a funk or needs to vent or needs a sympathetic ear, the other one is there. Unconditionally. And it’s because of that unconditional love that I always knew they had the power to be each other’s bestie. Kind of like the power that Dorothy always had to get home to Kansas whenever she wanted—it just took her awhile to figure out that she had it all along.
Take last weekend, because it represented a critical junction in their relationship. It was the first time that Libby spent the weekend at her sister's college, meeting all of Riley’s friends, sleeping in the dorm, spending time with Riley's roommate. And while I know for a fact that they were each really excited at the chance to spend this time together, Dave and I were still leery of them both coming out of the weekend still speaking.
Could they pull it off? Could they transcend the confines of their big-sister-little-sister relationship and just be two sisters having fun together in the city for the weekend? The over-under was at about 50/50, so it could easily have gone either way.
Now I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that there was some part of me (us) that didn't expected a late-night text that first night from one of them saying that the other one was driving her nuts.
But then the inconceivable happened…the text never came. The phone never rang. And the next morning, when I finally mustered the courage to text them both to ask how their night was, the text I got back was Good! So I knew we had finally made it to the Promised Land. How long we’ll be there, I don't know, but it’s a truly beautiful place, I promise.
So, I’m here to reassure you that the seemingly impossible is possible. Siblings can get along. And while it can, realistically, take fifteen to eighteen years to happen, you’ll eventually make it. Promise. You just need to grin and bear it until then.
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston. She writes the nationally syndicated opinion column It Is What It Is and is the author of How to Raise Perfectly Imperfect Kids and Be Ok with It—Real Tips & Strategies for Parents of Today's Gen Z Kids, Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free, and LIFE: It Is What It Is, available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and at select bookstores everywhere. Read and discuss all her columns and books at lisasugarman.com. Or, find them on GrownAndFlown.com, Hot Moms Club, LittleThings.com, MommingHubb.com, Thrive Global, More Content Now, Wickedlocal.com, This Mama Wines, and Care.com.