Sugar and Spice

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.

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  1. I have sister whom I fought with for years. I wouldn’t give up sugar for her. But I might consider sharing 🙂

  2. bethany-
    when i found out clay was a clay, I cried for days. so i’ve put in a request for my sister to provide a boy cousin for him (she’s already given madi a girl-cousin) and btw i just refound ur blog because i lost the “favorites” and finding it again made me very happy!

  3. I wanted by brother to be a sister (even with our seven-year age gap), and I really thought I wanted both our boys to be girls. Turns out, brothers might be better than sugar too. 🙂

  4. I love this! I love the way you write! My girls at almost 2 and almost 4 are finally starting to really be friends and it is the best thing in the whole world to watch unfold.

    And no, I never did get an email from you so it must not have gone through?

  5. I had an older sister (well, I still do…) but she was 6 years older than me, and I was fun to tease. I didn’t share secrets, whispering stories or hobbies with her. We talk now and are closer than we ever were, but have different ideals and personalities. I made up my mind that when I chose to have kids I would have them close in age so they would be close. They fight. YES. A LOT. But, they also play together and are each other’s protectors. I think I made a good decision. I hope they will remain as close as they are now.

  6. I’m the middle one of three sisters… and I always wanted a brother! Ha. Still… I love that phrase: sisters are better than sugar.

    So are you!

  7. Liz – I suppose if my girls grow up valuing each other enough to share their sugar, I could consider myself a parenting success. 🙂

    Erica – I guess you’ll just have to have more kids to even out the gender discrepancies… hehe. Glad you re-found me!

    Q – I always wanted little boys (until Natalie’s ultrasound when I realized I wanted a little girl far more – ::grin::), and yours look like everything that made me want boys in the first place!

    Allison – Isn’t it lovely to see? I’m looking forward to finding out how a third girl fits into your mix!

    Meg – I’ve seen advantages and disadvantages to all types of age differences, but I think I’m with you — it seems so much easier for the close-in-age siblings to bond.

    Christina – ::blushes:: That’s a much a compliment to me as “You’re an onion!” was an insult when I was growing up. 🙂 Do you ever wish for girls now that you have two boys?

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