I’m crying like a baby as I write this. I didn’t know I was going to feel this way. It’s always the same — I can’t quite feel those big changes until the moment is UPON me. Today, it’s upon me. Today, my baby sister moved out of our house and into her college dorm.
I should probably back up. Ever since I became a mother, I feel like half of my conversations have been left unfinished or I was too distracted to really “get into things.” This blog is no different. There are so many unfinished stories and unfinished thoughts that I haven’t shared.
This is a big one. You know our little family as Aki, me, and Mateo. But there’s one more VERY important member of our family, and today she left for university. The week that Mateo was born, my sixteen-year-old sister moved in as well. The month of August 2011 we welcomed both a teenager and a newborn into our home. That month I became a mother.
Elizabeth changed schools and states because she wanted to, and because she was brave. She worked hard to get into a great school program in Chicago, and when she was accepted, the decision was made. It was a crazy plan, really — there were so many changes all at once. The initial idea was actually my mother’s, but none of us knew how difficult the transition would be. Elizabeth is incredibly close to my parents, her academic program was intense, and she was dealing with moving out of her parent’s home and joining a new family dynamic with a new baby. That’s a lot for a 16-year-old girl.
It was so scary to feel so responsible for someone else’s future. I made a lot of wrong turns as a teenager and I was so scared and felt so protective over Elizabeth. For awhile there, we didn’t know if we had all made a big mistake.
Elizabeth has been a complete blessing to us. I’ve watched her flourish and grow up. It’s impressive, really.
And I got to know my baby sister. Because of our age gap (12 years), we didn’t spend many years under the same roof. Who would have thought we’d have another chance to know each other this way — as part of my little family?
And what a lucky boy Mateo has been. No one makes his eyes light up like “Auntie” does (I don’t think he knows her real name, ha). He’s never known a time when she wasn’t around. She has added so much to his life on a daily basis.
. . .
I got so, SO sad when I was putting dinner away tonight. What a funny moment to trigger so much, right? It’s just that I realized how much I’m going to miss having you take the leftovers to school everyday. I probably would have skipped cooking many nights, but I knew how much you love family meals. I’m going to miss how happy you were to pack your lunches. And at least today, it feels a little emptier cooking without you eating. Please come back for dinner often.
Elizabeth, I don’t know how to thank you enough for all of the help and company you’ve given me over the past two years. I’ve been going through old photos today, and so many memories just keep flooding over me. You were there for everything. You are forever tied with my experience of being a mother. It’s quite embarrassing, and I feel ashamed putting it in writing, but I’m really scared to not have you here. Yes, I have been a mom for two years, but I’m still scared.
I know I’m not the most patient, but I hope you know that I do have time for you whenever you need me. You’re not an “extra,” you are part of our family.
your big sister :)
. . .
Maybe the tears are dramatic because she didn’t move far. It’s just not the same. I’m crying because the house is emptier, because I feel GRATITUDE, and yes because I’m scared. It’s hard not to feel sentimental as I look through all of our memories over the past two years. And more than anything, it’s so lovely to SHARE MEMORIES.
It’s new territory for Mateo too. He’ll be FINE, but the idea of him looking for her hurts. She’s been his big sister down the hall since the day he came home. But better, cause she’s “Auntie.” She was a third pair of loving eyes whenever he looked up.
After we dropped Elizabeth off at her new dorm, Mateo said, “Auntie all done.” “Auntie going NEW home.” I don’t think he really knows what that means. He just knows that we keep bringing it up. Kids, especially wee ones, transition so easily, but I’m still sad for him. I hope he understands.
I guess I’m pretty good at being self absorbed (you know, this is my blog after all). The reality is that this is super exciting and a wonderful time. I’m so proud of my sister — for all that she had to overcome already to get to this day. I know she’ll do awesome. There are very few truly sweet & hardworking people like her. She’s 100% ready to be on her own and in the world. There are SO MANY adventures ahead!
And luckily she’s not so far away. We can drive over any day to say HELLO. (oh yeah, we have a car again). :)
It just won’t be the saaaame. But we can’t go on being the same forever, can we?