There’s nothing quite like being an only child.
Or, at least, that's what I was led to believe for most of my life. My friends with both older and younger siblings were jealous I didn’t have to share toys or clothes, my mother mollycoddled me and my grandmother always cooked the food I wanted.
When I turned 19, that changed. Over dinner, my mom told me she was expecting another baby with her boyfriend at the time.
Naturally, I was livid. I was no longer going to be treated as the princess of the family.
I was at an age where the baby could’ve easily passed as my own. As my friends continued to remind me, when I turned 40, the baby would be 20. What kind of sense was that supposed to make?
Then, several months later, my little sister was born.
I changed my mind.
She was small and fuzzy with a scent like love and powder.
I knew I loved her when her hands reflexively closed around my finger, like she could already foresee all the times she’d have to hold my hand when crossing the road, or walking in the dark when she was scared.
She also teaches me just as much as I taught her. For that, I’ll always be grateful.
1. Sisters prepare you for parenthood.
I can’t even recall how many times a stranger thought my little sister was actually my daughter. She doesn’t even look like me!
When you’re significantly older than your sibling, you absorb some of the responsibilities a parent does.
You not only change diapers, prepare meals and clean up, but you also take him or her to the doctor, calm down any temper tantrums and chaperone playdates.
You become the de facto parent. It's a great prep for when you’re ready to have children of your own.
2. You learn babies are rarely Instagram-perfect.
Babies are giant and adorable Whoopee Cushions. They burp, puke and something is always coming out of their asses.
Babies also have the uncanny habit of covering themselves in precisely the grossest thing they can get their hands on, whether it be mud, sh*t or mushy pea baby food.
There’s a reason babies are always sleeping peacefully in their Instagram debuts.
3. She taught you all about unconditional love.
If you spent most of your life as an only child, your only idea of unconditional love probably stems from your parents.
You had to learn to love a new baby, it wasn’t just ingrained from an early age. You worked for it.
4. Sharing comes naturally.
When your siblings are close in age to you, you’re always fighting over the same toys, clothes and attention from your family.
When you are a much older sibling, you’re not at all interested in your little sister's toys.
Regardless of how many times your mom assures your baby sis that she's actually the favorite, you’re old enough to know your family will always love you.
5. You can play the adult card.
Your age makes you an authority figure.
She has to listen when you boss her around, because you’re supposed to be the one who knows better.
6. She gives you something to fight for.
If someone picks on my sister at the playground or if a boy makes her cry, I will practically skin someone alive.
My mom might have qualms about getting her hands dirty if someone upsets her little girl, but I don’t.
Bring it on.
7. She looks up to you.
To her, you’re somewhere between a parent and a friend.
You’re old enough to make rules, but young enough to break them every so often. She knows she can tell you her secrets and she's still young enough to wholly trust you.
8. She has moments of extreme generosity.
Every time my sister willingly gives up the last piece of candy or gave me her favorite doll to play with, I know she trusts me with something precious to her.
I can never forget that.
9. Because she won't be into boys (or girls) for a long time.
I won't have to hear about how Jake broke her heart or about the cute boy in her geometry class for many, many years.
10. Because dress up will always be both of our favorite pastimes.
It's like having a real life Madame Alexander doll to play with.
Good thing she's into frills, tutus and pink.
11. Because she still thinks makeup is for playtime.
She doesn't try on my lipstick or play with my eyeshadow because she thinks it'll make her prettier.
She just does it because she likes putting crazy colors on her face and scaring everyone.
12. She allows me to do crazy sh*t to her hair.
From wacky fishtail braids to hair chalk, she's always down for something that looks cool.
13. She gives me an excuse to watch the best TV of all time.
If you haven't discovered the perfection of "Peppa Pig," "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" or "Sofia the First" yet, you're seriously missing out.
14. Because tea time will always be a good time.
Even if it's just pretend.