Blessings In Disguise
It is never easy for an older sibling to take over the role of the parental figure for their younger sibling(s). But that is the exact position I have found myself in. In all reality, there are countless children and young adults around the world, who have a strong sense of pressure to care for their family due. Reasons for caring for a younger sibling can vary. While in my culture most older siblings can feel the pressures of, or may even in moments have the obligation to look after their younger siblings while their parents work per se, in this specific scenario, I felt the need to intervene in my siblings’ development due to the chaos I experienced around me. With that said, I guess here is where my story begins:
I am the eldest born child of 4 to a — I guess you can call us a “typical Mexican family“. Things were always tough in my household. By no means did we grow up rich. At the age of 16, I left behind my home and 3 siblings (2 of which were much younger than me) and somewhat disappeared for the most part for almost 8 years! What went on during those years has helped mold me into the woman I am now. I had to develop a true sense of grit during those years. I fell into a deep depression after leaving home to move in with my boyfriend at the time and pulled myself out of public school to attempt home studies instead. What a major learning experience that was! And by learning experience I mean — mistake! I could have graduated early should I stayed in school, but instead, here I am in my mid 20’s finishing up my HS diploma! (Better now than never…right?)
With only 20 credits remaining before graduation, I chose to drop school to work full time at a tax & accounting firm and take on my very first tax season as an administrative assistant/tax filer (not preparer). What can I say? I was desperate for income and eager to hold my own. I worked at that firm for 3 tax seasons before finally being laid off after a company merger. The day I was laid off will forever be marked in my memory as my 24-Breakdown. Why? Well, this was the afternoon I had hit an emotional high after reaching my fundraising in leadership training, only to learn about some family drama that included blackmail on Facebook from a psychopath and then being called into my boss’s office to discuss my layoff.
It’s ok, I had suspected it was bound to happen after seeing how slow work was going for me.
On the bright side, I still have a good relationship with my past employer and co-workers.
This point in my life is what lead me to eventually end my relationship in 2015 to focus on my own growth and mental health. I needed to rediscover who I am on my own. I needed to develop my own identity unattached to a partner. The process was scary and it did involve a bit of couch surfing and meeting some interesting characters along the way, but worth the direction I was being led. Every hurdle experienced thus far actually made me stronger in the long run.
Fast forward late October that same year. My childhood home is uprooted. I find out my parents are separating, and my siblings [14 & 9], (since my other sister  had already gone her own way by this time) were each being hauled to a separate state. My sister was supposed to join my mom on her trip to Texas and my brother was to live with my pops in Virginia. Surprise! That is not how things worked out. After following my family’s tales of their joint journey from Texas to Virginia, and getting a call about a technically legal kidnapping back to Texas, only to finally have my old man and brother finally make the trip back to California, I had had enough. I felt my siblings needed a better sense of stability. So, while my mom went to live her life and eventually remarry in Texas with my baby sister by her side, my pops and brother made a new life for themselves here in California to stay close to family.
My parents split really hit me hard in ways I never expected. My mom’s decision to split from my dad was a major reason I decided to end my almost 8-year relationship and begin anew on my own.
I know, it all can be tough to follow at first…
Come Christmas of 2016 where I am working for a new marketing agency and a boss of mine happens to have the heart to assist me by meeting my mom halfway between California and Texas to get my baby sister for the holidays. (Yes, he and I eventually begin dating, but that is a story for another day honeybees…) My baby sister did fly back to Texas some point after the holiday but then found herself back in California to live with my pops not too long after.
Fast forward again later in the year to when I learned of my father’s health declining. Still staying strong he does his best, but he remains as stubborn as ever when it comes to changing certain habits. I blame it on “machismo”. However, his heart’s intentions remain humble. Ironically enough, after having disowned my father in previous years, I took it upon myself to help care for him as well as step in as a co-parental figure for my 2 younger siblings. While my brother will be 18 soon enough and will be a young adult himself, I now spend my days focusing mostly on my baby sister .
The Hidden Blessings
So what are the secret blessings buried beneath the pressures of co-parenting? First and foremost, I feel that by stepping up to this role I have established a deeper and more meaningful relationship with my family. I have gained a lot of insight on the perils of parenting and am also blessed to reap some very loving rewards. But at the same time, I learn a lot about myself as a person. When we take on the task of molding young humans, you must face a very defining question: Who are you? You have to look at what defines you, your morals, and your values. What is it exactly that you wish to pass on? In my experience, co-parenting has not only made me more aware of my tendencies but also forces me to practice what a preach by setting the example I wish my siblings follow.
Where did the term Sister-Mom come from?
Not long after my intervention, I began to notice people asking my siblings if I was their mother. To which they would reply, “No, that’s my Sister-Mom” People would look at them with such confused faces. So they would happily explain, “Well she is my sister, but she is also like my mom, so she is my sister-mom.” Since then, the term Sister-Mom has been the quickest way to explain our family’s dynamics.
What is The Sister-Mom Series?
The Sister-Mom Serious will be a series of blog entries that will follow my journey of “Sibling Parenting” and the many lessons I learn along the way. Sure, I am bound to make a few mistakes, but hey — no one ever gave me a handbook on parenting anyways! I’ll share any tips and trick as I learn along the way as well as moments of gratitude for the struggles thrown into my day.