The love of a reformed mean sis
Growing up, I was a mean sister. When my sister was only a week old, I pinched her nose because I didn’t like having a sibling. I was also tasked to help her with her assignments and study guides, but I was so mean to her, called her “slow” that she would cry and lose interest.
Then, another sister came. I would have been OK if she was a boy because I saw my parents’ desire to have a son, but nope. She was a girl and she was another pain. This time, I can’t leave the house because I have to babysit her. My young, immature brain was so frustrated that I threatened to leave if my parents get another baby.
One day, during the school’s Parents’ Day Celebration where kids exhibit their artwork, both of my sisters displayed our family photos with a caption for each member. Under my name was “Ate” and descriptions like “she’s very smart,” “she helps me with my assignments,” but “I wish she will not shout at us because we love her so much.”
Bam. I’m crying right now just thinking about it.
Yeah, they never meet my anger with their anger. I realized, they were timid and would just follow as I say. It was unfortunate it took me years to recognize that my sisters adore me, and I should be the best Ate they could ever have. When I saw them, I hugged them tightly and took them to the canteen.
Fast forward, I needed to leave for college. We all got busy with our lives; I became an absentee sister. The middle sister took my place as the Ate in the house, and both of them got used to being the only 2 children at home.
After almost 6 years of being away, I went home for good (or so I thought). I was so surprised to find them so responsible and capable of getting their things done. Of course, I went home a couple of times throughout the 6 years but those were only for a few weeks so I didn’t have that much time to observe them and see the young strong women they were becoming.
The older of the two can effortlessly fix a delicious meal for the whole family. She can keep the house in order better than me or my mom. There was one afternoon she went home after Uni and saw I didn’t get up from bed. A dark cloud was hovering me that day. She was so caring; she took care of the chores I had to do and sweetly asked me to get dressed because we’re getting raw mangoes (my favorite!).
Meanwhile, our youngest sibling can face her battles already. She had a problem at school that could affect her grades and, unlike any normal teenager, she told our parents. Also, nothing can skip her strong instincts (or empathy, depends). I laugh every time I recall that moment she called out someone’s BS. A girl was talking to my sister about her love life and how she just wants to be single and not go back to her ex. My then 15-year old sister just said, “I don’t believe you.” HAHAHA. That girl got owned.
I’m just so happy they grew to become the independent women that I had prayed them to be. Our Dad, however, talked to me one night and said “Your sisters still need you.” He told me that despite their strength and wisdom, having an Ate they can look up to is vital for them.
Now, regardless of the distance, we got even closer and more supportive to each other. When our parents confiscated their phones, I came to the rescue. When I needed love advice or their bomb adobo recipe, they surely got my back.
I may have lost track of being an Ate for years but this time I will not fail them. They are my default best friends and somewhere out there, our umbilical cords are tied together*, literally!
*Ate is a Filipino term for elder sister
*There is a superstition that if the umbilical cords of siblings are tied together, they will grow closer and will love each other. Our Mom followed this but unfortunately, we lost the bundle when we moved to a new house.