Growing Sibling Relationships in the Midst of Global Change

Lexie Gibbons, sophomore, and Olivia Gibbons, 8th grader, playfully pose during a photoshoot.

Lexie Gibbons, sophomore, and Olivia Gibbons, 8th grader, playfully pose during a photoshoot.

At a mere 20 months and 10 days old, my parents gave me the gift they knew I would never ask for. The gift is still the best thing that I never knew I would ever need: a baby sister. A companion. A built in best friend. The only person who could love you at your worst, and still manage to highlight your biggest mistakes at the same time. 

Since Olivia and I have always been so close in age, I have never known what it would be like to do something on my own. Even when given the opportunity to split off and partner with other people, we still choose each other. We have gone and traveled everywhere, together. We have seen and walked through everything, together. Heck, we even went through a global pandemic together – and yet, I could never be more grateful for someone in my life. 

Though I will forever cherish some of the most special moments that she and I have created, we most definitely have had our ups and downs. There are days when she looks at me like I killed the family dog, and I look at her like she stole my favorite jeans – which she most likely did, – and it’ll get a little crazy. 

Despite all of this, Olivia and I agreed to this quote that we had heard repeated earlier in the day as our sisterly motto: “I love you, but I will NOT always like you.” 

Looking back over the past 14 years, I have never found anything to be more true. 

Olivia stated, “Truthfully, I enjoy it when we cuddle up really close and have a good laugh. I know that’s something that will never be lost on time.” 

The past nine months have made me realize how blessed I truly am. I have a built in best friend, someone, who for whatever reason, chooses to love me unconditionally each and every day. Someone who will remember these moments with me in the far future. The moments in which we did the things we knew we shouldn’t have. Or the moments where we were so young and naive. The moments where we were trapped in our house during a global pandemic with nothing to do but tie-dye random articles of clothing. 

I couldn’t have imagined going through the last year without my sister. From the very beginning we were right by each other’s sides – super excited for what we thought was going to be an ‘extended’ spring break! Fast forward to three months later, and we’ve realized that we’re no longer going to be able to go back to school the rest of the year. Fast forward three more months later, and not much has changed. She and I were still doing our best to make the most of the situation. We spent many nights together on the couch watching old reruns – our favorites, and trying to invent new combinations of fruity smoothies. 

“If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child,” said author Linda Sunshine.

But for all of the good times, there are equally as many bad. Some days we are completely and totally a mess. But in the very best way possible. We finish each other’s thought processes, which is actually terrifying. We look at each other and with a single glance know what the other person is thinking. We fight over clothes, celebrities, and movies. 

Yet, at the end of the day, I have never been more thankful for a human being to be stuck in my house with for six months. Whatever the world chooses to throw at us next, at least I know I’m prepared. Luckily for me, all the preparation I need just so happens to share a bathroom with me – and lives right across the hall. 

Though your sibling dynamic may look a little bit different than mine, I always encourage others to continue pressing in for more out of their relationship with their siblings. Many times, it is just a matter of someone making an effort. In these unprecedented times, if you find yourself in a place where you have more time than usual, prioritize your siblings. I understand the feeling of disconnect, and nine times out of 10 it is mutual. But, you were born from the same people for a reason, and it is never too late to establish a line of connection.