I was not the typical girly girl while growing up on the farm in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. I was the only girl in the farming neighborhood and I was blessed with 2 rambunctious brothers who although they were a lot younger than me, were a great source of entertainment. It was not until I went to boarding school did I actually start making girlfriends. It was always interesting to me to see the relationship dynamics that many the girls in my class had with their elder siblings and especially with their sisters. I think the interest was purely because I didn’t understand it.
At this stage in my young life I was closest to my grandparents, having life spent the majority of my 7 years with them and my mother was an enigma and I was still getting to know her. I was just 6 and a bit when I went off to weekly boarding and it did me a lot of good as well. I got to go home to the farm every weekend but it also got out me out of the house. I wont say that I was an angel during my time in the small town called Komga but it helped me built my character that I am today. As I got older and moved to high school the sibling relationships around me, although slightly more mature, were still prevalent. The most that I observed had a love/ hate element that most brothers and sisters share but the closeness that many sisters shared was what I was most jealous of. I noticed that it was a bond that, even though they may be fighting, no one else may fight with their sister. There was an element of possessiveness and belonging that I had wanted from when I was a little girl. This often is a result of growing up as an outsider within a family unit. I was my mother’s child but I was not her husband’s child. Even though I was at home with my extended family, my core family was fragmented and, without a doubt, it left a hole.
But that hole also helped shape who I am today, it gave me the strength to be able to make a life outside of the family unit and to be as independent as I am today. By the time I left home for university I was a bit of a force to be reckoned with but the problem with that was that I was hard with very few fuzzy edges which meant people found me very difficult to get to know, it I allowed them in at all. To change this part of my has taken a long time of being constantly aware of who I’m interacting with and the nature of our interaction. It took my hubby months of slowly chipping away at my stony exterior to finally reach my marshmallow insecure center and he thought it was so worth it which led me to believe that you didn’t need to be this hard core what not to make your way through life successfully. I had this strange idea in my head that it could face this world along and live to tell the tale. It would probably have worked but if I look around me I doubt it would have been worth the fight.
It was at this stage in my life that I met my first sister, Carmen, she was my hubbies youngest sister and she was a fire cracker! This started a long period of having to adjust to having each other in our lives and learning the ropes of having another girl in the house, she also had two brothers but she had the added benefit of having gone to an all girls school and I loved that she had very little time for the drama that often stalked after most girls. It took Carmen and I a lot of time to find common ground but once we did, going to the ends of the earth for her would be an easy task and although we will always have a difference in opinions, this is what makes relationships interesting.
A few years later after I had married my hubby and we had became expats, my brother in law bought my second sister in to my life, and to say that we were so similar in some ways in so totally different in others is an understatement but there was a calm about Chantal that reminded me of a (and she is going to hate me for this because she suffers from Ornithophobia) Peking Duck, gracefully heading through life but under the water she paddled like hell. She worked so hard but made it look very easy and it is a trait that she still has today. It didn’t take long for us to bond and before long our family had gained another valued member.
And then we were three, well actually we were four because my mother in law was always there to lend a supportive ear through any disruptive periods and it is through her guidance and wisdom that we all found our place within our family. Through all of this I can now sit back and say how proud I am to have two sisters who through it all will support the decisions we make and be there when the hells fall off every now and then. There will be tears and bad days but we know that we will always be stronger standing together than fighting apart and I wouldn’t have chosen it to be any other way.