With a four-year age gap between my only sibling and me, much of my childhood was spent in my sister’s shadow.

As the younger one, I looked up to her, wanted to be just like her, and did anything I could to spend time with her. I’d rebound for her in the alley for hours while she practiced what would eventually be her record-breaking jump shot, and I sat in the bleachers for every game. I’d sneak her favorite food under the door when she got sent to her room for refusing to eat what our mom cooked . . . all because I wanted her to know I was on her team.

While we definitely had our seasons of sisterhood when we didn’t see eye-to-eye, or it simply wasn’t cool to always have me around, we always looked out for each other.

Eventually the day came for her to move off to college, and I felt like I was losing her. I wondered if she’d forget me and if our relationship would fade.

But none of that happened.

In fact, it simply highlighted how strong our bond really was, and how much we appreciated and needed one another. It was a turning point in our sisterhood where it was no longer big sister and little sister—it was friendship. Boyfriends, fights with friends, career choices and big life decisions; we were each other’s person through every season of life. 

She entered the season of motherhood first, and I made the two-and-a-half-hour drive to be at her side when I got the call that she was about to make me an aunt

Up until that moment, I knew I loved her—but I never thought about how much I’d love her child. 

But when he arrived, I looked in his eyes and saw the sister I had loved for so long. All of the experiences through which I’d been behind or beside her had led her to him, and were a part of him. And the minute I saw that little boy hit her chest, I knew I wanted to protect him, support him, and love him with the same level of strength that I always had for his mom.

I wanted him to know that I would be someone he could turn to. I wanted him to know me as the “cool” aunt who would sneak him money for a good report card. I wanted him to see me in the crowd at his activities. I wanted him to know I’d put on glove to play catch just as quick as I’d pull out a chair beside him to talk if he was feeling sad.

But most importantly, I knew the greatest gift I wanted to give him was one that I had been practicing long before he arrived—and that was to love his mom through this next season of her life the way I had through all of the ones before.

I wanted to continue to remind her of her strengths and love her through her struggles so she could be the best version of herself. That little boy deserved to experience that the way I had all my life . . . because I knew, like me, he’d eventually learn that the best version of her love would be one of his greatest blessings.

Today, we each have three children of our own. While we adore each other’s kids—we hold them, play with them, show up at their activities and buy them clothes and toys—it’s the love we have for each other as sisters that I believe is our greatest gift to them as their aunts.

It’s the phone calls we pick up when one of us is feeling less than.

It’s the conversations we have over coffee reminding each other what an amazing job we are both doing.

It’s the times we take the kids for each other so one of us can have a moment to breathe.

It’s the family dinners we commit to so we all stay connected, and so our kids foster a lifelong bond as cousins—the way she and I built one as sisters.

It’s an unwavering commitment to carry on the lifelong legacy to be each other’s person and support each other through this journey of life and motherhood.

As sisters, we know each other’s hearts . . . and as aunts, we know our nieces and nephews deserve to see the best versions of their moms’ spirits. So, we continue to love each other through this season of life, knowing that no gift we could buy could bring more value to each other’s children than that.

You may also like:

How Lucky You Are To Be Growing Up With Sisters

So God Made a Sister

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Brea Schmidt

Brea Schmidt is a writer, speaker and photographer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch. Through her work, she aims to empower people to overcome their fears and insecurities and live their truth. She and her husband raise their three children in Pittsburgh, PA.