I’m the youngest of four girls in the Swenor family. My sisters have all gotten married and had/are having babies in succession. I’m a little behind the curve, but I think that’s okay.
It’s been an interesting journey- watching my sisters become wives and mothers. I don’t know if other people feel this way or if I’m just way too introspective since I’m a counselor, but it’s been an adjustment. Our family was seven people, then eight, nine, ten, eleven, and now twelve with one more on the way. That’s a lot of extra people around! and four dogs if you count them.
With each sister there was the excitement of the engagement, the chaos of the wedding, and then watching them settle into their new homes with their new families. I remember with each one- Jenni, Juli, then Kati- this feeling I would get when I visited like my sisters and their husbands were playing house the way my sisters and I used to when we picked berries and pine needles from trees in the backyard and made them into our evening stew in the playhouse.
Then there were the family trips and holidays where our modest, ranch-style home was suddenly even more crowded. New men were staying in the house which meant no more ironing my Sunday dress wearing only bra and underwear. Couples were assigned as partners for euchre Daniel was mine, except the times he had a girlfriend and then I was really odd one out, or we played boys against girls my personal favorite for board games.
There were losses too, the loss of a close brother in Vic.
And more changes with another new brother and a beautiful little girl named Ilah.
Jenni and Juli were pregnant at the same time, and I have to say my big sisters look pretty darn cute with baby bellies.
More change arrived with the adorable little babies that are my niece and nephew. When kayaking or swimming we have to decide who’s staying back to watch the kids usually my gracious mother. When biking or boating we have to bring the right equipment and plenty of sunblock. When Jonah was here for his first Christmas, I couldn’t believe how often a baby can cry in the middle of the night. Oh, and there is the incredible joy of watching them take hesitant steps, or fall and scrape their little faces, or laugh unabashedly at peek-a-boo.
Sometimes it’s crazy to think of my sisters as moms. When did we get old enough to take care of real babies instead of babydolls? It’s the most beautiful thing to see the love Jenni and Juli have for their little ones. They say things like “I never knew I could love someone like this” and I think, that seems a little mushy, but I wonder what that’s like? or if I’ll feel that way.
And then the phone conversation with Kati. I was at a Brooke Fraser concert with Nick at the Blue Note in Columbia. I think I called for a brief check-in or something and she told me right as the band walked in for their opening number that she was pregnant- “It’s not funny to get my hopes up like that, Kati.” She replied that she wasn’t joking.
I exited to the hall with one hand over my free ear to hear more of the details. Wow, my twin sister is pregnant. I hung up the phone and sunk a little against the wall.
I’d be remiss with all my talk about being open and transparent if I wasn’t honest about this part.
I had really wanted Kati and Ryan to start having kids, in fact I even sent Ryan a birthday card one year that was actually a “congrats on the new baby” card and wrote something like – ‘can’t blame a girl for hoping:)’ on it. which I now know was kind of a terrible thing to do. But when I heard the news it felt different than I expected.
Kati was pregnant and I felt like a failure. What did I have going for me? I’m not married or pregnant (like all my sisters), I don’t own a house or a dog (like all my sisters), and I just got rejected from 7 out of 8 PhD programs. There’s also this twin thing (I’ve mentioned in other posts) where I wish we could share these experiences with each other. Maybe it’s ridiculous, but I just wanted us to take all life steps together- like going through two-a-day practices for conditioning week in basketball for the first time, or moving away to college. Instead, there’s this whole thing called marriage that I can’t relate to and she can’t relate to what it’s like to move away or be on your own for as long as I have been, and now she’ll be a mom and I won’t.
I felt ambivalent. Sad that I couldn’t share this; so incredibly happy that my sister was going to have what I’m sure will be the cutest baby ever (with exception to Jonah and Ilah of course).
It’s taken me some time to work through these feelings, but now I just can’t wait for the little Kati-mixed-with-Ryan to get here. I can’t wait to hold him or her.
My sisters are all amazing women, and I have learned some of what not to do, but also wonderful things from all of them:
Jenni- persistence and hard work and appreciation for bands like Phish and U2 when other kids my age were listening to New Kids on the Block
Juli- how to make the best of any situation and how to make an amazing stuffed acorn squash
Kati- how to be slow to anger and quick to forgive and how to run a mile in less than 6:45 for basketball conditioning, when punishment for being over time was seven suicides
These are just a few.
I love watching them become more of the women God created them to be, and I love the enthusiasm with which they share their lives with me. I’m not always around, but they are intentional about phone calls and pictures and stories in a way that makes me feel so, so loved and included.
I love my sisters, and though at times it takes some adjusting, I love the way our family is growing and changing.
So, sisters, for the hours of playing barbies outside on a blanket if it was nice out and mom kicked us out of the house, for the years of stacking wood in the summer to heat the house in the winter, for long Christmas Eve nights when dad had to come in and spank us with the brush because we couldn’t stay quiet, for cold days sledding and warm days at the beach, for brutal games of street basketball and competitive rounds of Trivial Pursuit, for long phone conversations and even longer drives to visit each other, for contributing more brothers to my life, and now for the beautiful little ones I get to hold.