Fun fact about me, I am an only child…..Biologically anyways. My dad remarried when I was 5 and I was thrown into a family with 3 older step sisters. It was everything I ever wanted, even when it wasn’t. My mother met my step father many years later. I was an angst ridden pre-teen, thrust into a whole new world with a step father and 3 new older step siblings. This second transition was not as simple, but somehow we all managed to survive. Through my childhood and now onto my life as an adult and mother, I have always felt a special connection to all 6 of my step siblings, despite the age difference. Oh yea, did I forget to mention, I am at minimum 10 years younger than the youngest step sibling! This has made the dynamics different, difficult at times, but still so filled with love. Being the youngest step sister has not always been easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being The Youngest Step Sister
As I mentioned above, I am the youngest step sister out of 7 people! I have 4 older sisters, and 2 older brothers. I don’t particularly like to use the word “step” because to me it has connotations of “not REAL family”, but we will get to that a little later. As a child, I always wanted siblings. I longed for them, prayed for them, begged my parents for them…but they never came. At 5 years old, when I gained my first three amazing sisters, I was over the moon. Even though they were much older than I was, they treated me just like another member of the family. Filled with warmth and love, I could not have asked for anything better, but still my heart ached.
The age difference made things hard, it still does in some ways. I wished for just one close in age to me, but that wasn’t in my cards. So, I made the best of what I had! Spending time with my older sisters, annoying them I am sure. Watching movies too old for me, listening to inappropriate music, and staying up much too late. I learned so much from these three amazing women, and I still do today.
As a pre-teen, I gained my other 3, a sister and two brothers. I could now say that I had 6 older siblings! My relationship with them was different though. While it was still very welcoming at first, it wasn’t the same. I was older, they were much older. Not to mention they lived in North Carolina, and I in Florida. When I did get to see them, everything was wonderful. I will never forget the youngest brother when they all came down to visit one time. We were standing on a lake beach, about to watch some summer fireworks… he let me have a sip of his beer and I thought that was so cool. He then said these words that still stick with me to this day. ” I’ve always wanted a little sister”. I never knew how much I wanted a brother until that day. Sisters are wonderful, but there is something special about a brother. During that same visit, I felt like I bonded with my two older brothers ( my sister on that side did not make it down for that trip). I loved them. They were family and I finally felt complete.
Even then though, as a child, I knew my relationship with my siblings was different. The ages, the distance, the circumstances. It would be hard, but I was happy to have the siblings I had always dreamed about.
As A Child
The First Three Sisters
As a young child, I never really thought much about the age difference. I had my sisters and that was what mattered. Sometimes people would mistake one of them for my mother, which looking back was funny, but at the time it stung a little. Honestly, the oldest of them IS old enough to be my parent. You see, my parents were older when I was born, which I feel gave me a different upbringing. They weren’t decrepit by any means, just older than the parents of most of my friends, but I never had much of a problem with that. It did mean though, that I would never have a biological sibling, but even that I eventually came to terms with.
The one real issue I had as a young child, was other people who for some reason insisted on telling me those weren’t my “real” sisters. Even other children would way, they are your “step” sisters, not your “real” sisters. This used to really set me off. Anger and sadness, because part of me believed them in a way. They weren’t biologically related to me, so maybe they weren’t really my siblings. This is probably why I to this day shy away from the word “step” whenever possible. You see, to me, and to them too, we were real sisters. We loved each other, we also fought like sisters. To this day we disagree and butt heads, but what sisters don’t do that?
Growing up, these three women were my go tos. Those who I would call and talk too when I needed advice. Their age gave them wisdom, which in turn helped me learn and grow as a person. It was mush easier to listen to them than to my parents, as silly as that sounds. We have had our moments, but the 4 of us are thick as thieves, in our own special way.
The New Three Siblings
My relationship with the new three siblings as a child was not as simple as that with my first three sisters. I was older, they were older, and they lived farther away. I bonded quickly to my two new brothers, but it was much harder with my newest sister. She was a harder egg to crack, and our relationship never really grew until I got much older. Despite the age and distance though, I did manage to build a relationship with my brothers at least. They were so much fun, and I loved having brothers. There is just something so different about it than sisters. Brothers are a little more reckless, a little more rebellious, and a little less judgmental. When they would come down to visit we had the best time, so I thought when I moved up to North Carolina, things would be the same…I was wrong.
When I was 14, I moved away from my Florida home, it was difficult to say the least but I was up for a new adventure and a chance to bond with my 3 newer siblings! I didn’t know then, but the relationships with them would not be the same as those with my first three sisters. Being the youngest step sister, I had a difficult time breaking into their family circle. They had grown up together, had inside jokes, and I was not a part of that life. They did their best to include me for the most part, but I still at times felt a cold shoulder from my new sister. Was it my age? Was it because she wasn’t happy about her father being with another woman? I still don’t really know.
The entire four years I lived in North Carolina, I never really built that relationship with them that I so desired. I was closest with the youngest, but he lived 6 hours away. The other two were mere minutes away, but we rarely saw them. I understand it more now, but at the time I never got why they worked so much, or never just came by for dinner. Living in close proximity really did not do much for us, and that still makes me a little sad.
It wasn’t until right before I moved back to Florida that I finally felt some kind of progress with my sister. We had a sister day, and I was over the moon! We went to the mall, saw a scary movie ( it was a terrible movie, but that doesn’t matter), had lunch. It was like I was finally making progress, only to move away again. I still look back on that day fondly, as it is some of the only real memories I have with her and I where we really bonded and connected.
I remember the day before I left, sitting in my brother’s office, insisting that he see me before I left. He was, and still is, a busy man. Running his own business and doing very well for himself. Still, I wanted a few minutes of his time. Just to say goodbye, nothing more. Everyone though I was crazy, but I got the moments I wanted. He came out and bid me farewell….. and that was that.
What About Now?
Things have changed a lot since then. I am an adult, a mom, and a wife. My siblings have kids now as well, and everyone is doing really well. I am still very close with my first three sisters. We all live in the same town, and see each other rather often. I am still the youngest step sister though. Their kids are older, mine are quite young. We are in different places in our lives and careers. We don’t see each other as often as I would like, but that is alright.
Even though we have this wonderful relationship, sometimes if feels like ” step” still defines us at times though. Maybe it is just me, overthinking again, but at times there are things I notice. Small things, that I am sure aren’t done intentionally or with malevolence, but things I notice none the less. For example, I notice when we are all 4 together at a family event, there are times I feel left to the side. Not out of malice, but they will be talking about things I was too young to remember, things I was not alive during, or topics relating to their older children. There are moments I still feel like they look at me as the youngest step sister. Like I am still this 5 year old kid too young to be concerned with the affairs of the adults. I know it isn’t intentional, and maybe it is similar to how we always see our own children as babies…but it is something I struggle with. They would never intentionally make me feel left out, but sometimes I still feel like an outsider.
There are times when I also feel some sort of way when being introduced. To their friends or acquaintances, they have been known to introduce me as their step sister. I mean, I am their step sister, this shouldn’t leave me feeling a crushing heartache, but it does. It is most likely they use that as an introduction as to not confuse people or any number of reasons, but the reality is that it bites. I let it go, smile and walk away, but inside i hurt a little, but I know it is not out of malice.
Though there are still difficulties, no family is perfect. I love my sisters, and they love me and that is what matters in the long run.
What About North Carolina?
The North Carolina side of the family is a bit more difficult still. They come to visit once in a while, maybe once or twice a year. We try to get up that way as well, but really it isn’t cheap or easy to travel that far that often. Especially with having young kids, it makes the travel almost non existent. Most of them have young kids as well, so it is nice having at least something that I can relate to with them. Though they are significantly older, they face similar struggles to me when it comes to parenting at the moment. The issue in our relationships, is that there is almost no communication.
Honest truth? I have 1 brother’s phone number. I don’t even think I have my other brother or sister’s number saved in my phone. That is how often we talk. I wish it was more. You have no clue how badly I wish I was close enough with them to just pick up the phone and call, or shoot them a text for no reason. I can’t though, and I really hope that ship hasn’t yet sailed. Going forward, I long for the chance to have a real sibling relationship with them. I want more than a Christmas card and text on my birthday. Life is so short, and relationships are so precious. A relationship with my step-dad’s kids is something I have always wanted, but part of me fears it is too late.
Again, they are older. They live farther away, and live different lives. I love them all, and wish nothing but the best for them. My heart is still hoping that one day we will be close. Maybe it will take me building up the courage to just take the first step. I know I should call, I should text, I should let them know how I really feel. Maybe they will see this, maybe they won’t, but I hope that they do. My kids would love to be close with their cousins up north. At this moment, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just taking a trip up to see them on my own, not without my parents. It is a shame really, they are my siblings but I don’t feel comfortable just showing up at their houses? One day maybe, hopefully, that will change, and until then I will continue to long and pray and hope to find a way to build that sibling relationship.
It isn’t easy being the youngest step sister, not easy at all. I wouldn’t change it for the world though, and I will continue to tell anyone who asks that I have 6 amazing older siblings.