Happy Birthday, Amanda.
My sister is 22 today. She is a mother. She is hilarious. She is brave.
I love my sister more than I can say. My relationship with her has been unique and difficult and completely rewarding. Growing up, we were very different (and in a lot of ways that hasn't changed). When I wanted to talk things out, she'd rather say what she meant and leave it at that. I liked to have tons of people over, she preferred more intimate gatherings. I guess you could also say she does what she wants, and I do what's expected of me--it's been something I've always envied about her. We used to fight like crazy, as most young sisters do; arguing about clothes, the loudness of my music, about who had more popcorn... As we got older, and each of us scrambled through adolescence, we became more sympathetic to one another as young women. There was a dramatic shift in our relationship a few years back, though it's hazy and can't be confined at a definitive moment. Our relationship evolved into something you just can't define. We have so much fun together--whether it's speaking to each other through our eyes and bursting into laughter, spending the day watching our favorite tv shows, walking outside with dad, pretending like we want something else other than popcorn or enjoying time with our closest friends, the time we spend with each other is singular and precious to me.
We are not just sisters. We are best friends. We are confidants. We are Amanda and Diana. This is our blood.
At first when Amanda told me she was pregnant I was scared. I knew she would be doing this as a single mom. That wasn't something I'd wanted for her. Who wants their little sister to struggle? I hoped she would find support (she did) and I was sad that she wouldn't be able to experience those crazy college years like I did. There was also something else brewing within me. I was jealous. It was a selfish, "I'm the big sister, it should have been me first," kind of jealousy that sickened me and I never talked to her about. This was her moment, not mine. I'm sorry for that, Amanda. As the months went on, her belly swelled and the reality of her pregnancy set in. The irrationality of my jealousy quickly subsided and I went into full-on crazy-excited auntie mode--a switch that will never be turned off.
Watching my sister give birth is by far the most incredibly rich, human experience I've ever witnessed. I've never seen someone exert so much strength and determination in my life. She was a goddess in that hospital gown. Her soul reached as far as it could go without giving up. Holding her head, feeding her ice chips and helping her legs push and pull as she worked the hardest I've ever-freaking-seen-anyone-ever work--EVER!--was the single-most rewarding thing I've been a part of. I am so blessed that she allowed me to participate in Forrest's entry into this world. She gave me the best gift of all--I was able to lock eyes with Forrest, seconds after he was born. Nothing has ever moved me like that. Writing this now brings tears to my eyes because I can remember his face! He was alive! She made him alive. There is seriously nothing like it and I am immensely proud of her for the act of birthing a child and for the incredible change that's come about as she's settled into motherhood.
Now when I look at Amanda, I still see my baby sister, the Tasmanian devil, with the wild look in her eye, that curly, untamed hair--but at the exact same moment, she is this incredibly natural mother, whose instincts to love and protect her son make me burst with pride. The jealousy I had felt before has transformed into inspiration. She is determined, confident, capable and wise. I hope she always remembers that.
Happy birthday to the extraordinary woman who gave birth to our favorite human in the whole world. I'm so glad Forrest has you for a mom, and that I get you as my sister.