When I was growing up, I wanted a sister more than I wanted sugar.
Let that sink in a moment. Dessert in our house was all-natural peanut butter mixed with carob—a substance which may actually be dirt—and such was my longing for sugar that I would eat friends’ bubblegum toothpaste. A grandfatherly type at church would occasionally pass out those cinnamon hard candies blistering in red cellophane wrappers, and I would choke every one down despite the open flames in my mouth. I spent 95% of my babysitting money on contraband Girl Scout Cookies and swiped sweetener packets from restaurants when no one was looking. I dreamed about sugar.
But I wanted a sister even more. An older sister would have been ideal, but even in preschool I grasped the chronological difficulties that presented. A younger sister would do as long as she was close enough in age to share clothes and secrets and hobbies with me. I had it all planned—we would whisper under covers late at night, play pranks on our brothers, swap Lip Smackers, and grow up best friends for life. She would understand me as only a sister could. And eventually, we would marry two brothers and live happily ever after on adjacent horse ranches in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
However, the sister position stayed vacant until I was old enough to babysit her. While she and I have always had a good relationship, my sisterhood fantasies never had a chance to materialize before I left home… and the more people I met, the less faith I had that close, secret-sharing family ties existed. By the time Natalie was born, I had all but forgotten the allure of sisterhood.
Until our next baby’s 20-week ultrasound during which we learned she was a Sophie and not an Ebeneezer*. Dan and I had both suspected a baby boy was brewing, so the news rocked my perspective into fairy tale territory. Sisters. Shoe swappers, secret whisperers, dance partners, goodnight huggers, lifelong friendship givers.
My daughters may still be young, and they may fight multiple times a day over who’s the princess and who’s the ballerina, and I doubt brother-husbands with horse ranches are in their future**, but at least one of my childhood theories has landed on proof: Sisters are better than sugar.
*Note to Social Services: We never actually picked out a boy’s name. You can put down your pitchforks now.
**Though I haven’t lost faith in the Big Rock Candy Mountains just yet.