Tag Archives: Big Sister

My Protective Nerve

It was 11 days after my third birthday when my parents brought my brother home from the hospital. I don’t remember much but I know I wasn’t too fond of him at first. My parents got divorced when he was two and I was five. I assumed the role as more protective big sister immediately. Whether we knew it or not, we navigated the newness of our lives together. We fought often; to many, we probably didn’t look like we cared about each other at all. Yet, I knew early on my job was to protect him, despite him being bigger than me for the last 15 years. I can mess with my brother, but no one else can.

Fast forward a decade plus, our babies showed up to change our worlds forever. D.J. assumed the role as big brother naturally and I felt the pang of my protective nerve growing tenfold. They’re spoiled and they know it. There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for all three of them. Have I crossed a line? Probably! Do I care? A little and now that everyone’s older, I’m able to communicate that to them. They get it, they’re grateful and truth is, we all protect each other. 

As you can see, I am fiercely protective of the people I care for. It started with D.J., heightened with Samantha and Antonio and now as a manager, it’s exploded a little. 

I see part of my role as manager to protect my team from unnecessary stress, to filter only relevant information to them and to play defense for them. I invade personal space sometimes to make sure everyone’s taking care of themselves. I wear this protective nerve of mine like a cape, proudly on display. If you come within a mile of me, you know this is how I roll. 

Time and time again though, it’s become a challenge to manage because…

  1. I get so obsessed with protecting someone from themselves that I essentially forget to take care of myself in the process. While I’ve made great progress here, there are still times that I end up so emotionally depleted that I can’t help anyone. 
  2. At work, I dodge bullets for my team. Sometimes that’s necessary. Other times it prevents team members from stepping up and experiencing a challenge themselves. Also, I’m not an actual superhero, no one gets through it alone. I’m learning when and what to delegate to others.

I’ve noticed this protective nerve more and more lately. Maybe it’s because I’m managing more people or maybe I’m just more conscious of it. Either way, it’s good awareness to have. When something hits my protective nerve, I’ve started to: 

  1. Hit the pause button and think about why I’m reacting this way. Why did this specific situation hit the protective nerve? What about this is the same or different from other situations I’ve worked through in the past? Pausing before reacting is usually the smartest move for me AND I’ve learned that I need to communicate this pause to everyone involved so they know what’s going on.
  2. Then, I articulate why I reacted a certain way. Depending on the situation, I call it out immediately, almost like “Tag, you’re it!” In other instances, I’ll wait until the situation is defused to explain. Regardless of if it happens in a personal or professional context, I always ask myself and others, how could I have handled the situation differently and/or more effectively.

Being protective comes natural to me. Often, it proves to be helpful and people respect me for it. As with anything else, awareness is key. When in doubt, I blame my parents for making me the oldest 😉 I’m kidding! I’m exactly who I need to be.

Big Sister, Big Responsibilities

sam babyOver the weekend, we celebrated my sister’s 11th birthday. She is one of the three younger siblings I have and is at a very impressionable age. Both her and my nine-year old brother pay close attention to my actions. For example, they are Temple obsessed as that was their first encounter with a university. Since our age difference is so large, things they see me doing they think they can do too. No Samantha, you cannot shop at Forever 21 just because I do.

Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s because there are so many years between us, but I feel a certain responsibility to my younger siblings, especially my sister. That’s probably a girl thing since we are already sharing clothes. From the minute she was born, I felt the need to protect her, guide her and be there for her. This role as big sister to a little girl has proven both rewarding and challenging at times.

I was thirteen when my sister was born. I instantly became a pro at changing diapers, making bottles and finding the Elmo DVD to calm her down. That’s the great part about being so much older: I had the opportunity to help and learn how to take care of a baby. While the day-to-day tasks proved to be a great learning experience, having a little sister has taught me how to mentor and have more intentional conversations. My sister has such a big personality and a mind of her own, which is awesome. However, reasoning with her and helping her to see the big picture is tricky. The older she has gotten, the more we talk about real life situations like losing friends or schoolwork. I absolutely love being able to have these conversations with her but learned to approach them with caution. My words are like the Bible to her; she takes things literally. It has taught me to be very intentional with my words and actions.

The challenge to being a big sister is that I based my decisions around their happiness, not my own. While sisterthis isn’t always true, it definitely has happened. If I skip yoga, I can pick Samantha up from dance and take her for a manicure before Antonio’s hockey game. With the prospect of moving out becoming real, I’m not sure how I’m going to live more than 30 minutes away from these kids. Then I remember how I went to college, how I still saw them, went to hockey games and the list goes on. Going to college left such an impression on them. I hope is so does moving out, having my own apartment and a good job. I still struggle with the need to be there all the time but the greatest lesson I can teach them is to find your own happiness, to live your own life.

Do you have younger siblings? What kind of impact have they made on your life?

Family Fridays: Sister, Sister

As you may have noticed, I like to write posts for people’s birthdays. I feel like birthday shout outs are simple ways to thank the people who keep me going. Tomorrow is a very special someone’s birthday so here’s her shout out.

little samMy little sister Samantha turns ten tomorrow. I really am not okay with double digits and often wonder where the time has actually gone. I can replay every detail from the day Sam was born, from what I was wearing to what I watched on television that night. Excited was an understatement; my cousins wanted to tranquillize me! For the longest time, I wanted a baby sister, though I’m not entirely sure why. I saw sisters and how special of a bond they had and wanted that too.

At first, that bond revolved around playing peek-a-boo and teaching Sam a variety of cheerleading moves. Yes it’s true, I was showing her motions before she could walk. There’s 13 years between Samantha and I so we’re both in very different life phases and probably always will be. But, the older she’s gotten, the more we talk about life, about school, even about work. She is wise beyond her years and is the toughest little girl I know.

samSam certainly walks to the beat of her own drum. She doesn’t care what other people think and will tell you exactly what’s on her mind. She’s a lot like grandma in that sense. She reminds me a lot of myself; the way she knows the words to every song on the radio or how she loves to perform for people (dancing and doing cartwheels in my living room). She likes things a certain way, very particular about how she organizes everything, just like her big sister.

I can’t believe Sam is going to be ten tomorrow. I have had the best time watching her grow up and am so lucky to have such a crazy, fun little sister. I can’t wait to see how our relationship continues to develop within the years to come. Happy Birthday Sammie Girl!

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