My mom says if she had one more child – in addition to my sister and me – he or she would be a perfect blend of the two of us. I have to agree. I’m not sure two humans who share the same biological parents could be any more different than us. So, by nature, a third child would surely fall somewhere in the middle.
I could list all the ways that my sister Dee and I are drastically different, but it would be a long article and it’s not the point. It’s only important to note because, well, it’s the reason we grew apart for a chunk of our adolescent and teenage years. And naturally so.
For a long time growing up, I idolized my sister. She was my DJ Tanner and I thought she was The Best. Except for one time when she wouldn’t sit with me on the school bus (and then didn’t come to my defense when her so-call-friend said she would rather die than have as sister like me), Dee was always a loving big sister. We were just different, and those differences really started showing in high school – our interests, friends, hobbies, lifestyle, feelings toward our parents, her booming personality and presence…and my timid-as-a mouse disposition.
Thankfully, I came out of my shell and found my confidence over time, enough so that in my early 20s I was running a small office as a newspaper editor. Meanwhile, my sister and I were family, and thus we loved each other all along (for instance, she helped me get a job at the restaurant for which she worked during college). We respected each other, but it was very unlikely we would have been friends had we not been born to the same family.
When our office manager at the newspaper decided to take another job, leaving a vacancy that had my sister’s name on it, I agreed Dee would be a great fit. But I had my qualms. The HR discussion about nepotism was intimidating, but nowhere near as intimidating as the thought of being my big sister’s boss. A big sister with whom I wasn’t sure I’d even get along with. You know, siblings fight sometimes. And sometimes bosses have to fire people.
In the end, my desire to help my sister find employment and my mission to bring a qualified person to our staff won the debate (and HR agreed). Dee worked with us for a short year, but that year changed our relationship forever. How is it that being the boss to my older sister brought us closer? Simple. You gain respect for those you take for granted when you see them work hard. Or when you see them pleasantly interact with outsiders (coworkers, the public, non-family) and making them happy. Or when you actually stop to watch them focus on a task and put their best foot forward. When it’s any other person, you feel pleased. When it’s family, you can’t help but feel pride.
Our jobs are an area of life many of us don’t get to witness our loved ones in. I feel like sharing this work world with my sister was a risk that tested our relationship and patience and respect. In the end I realized we may be very different, but we share many of the same qualities: hard work, passion for what we do, creativity, energy, integrity. She did great work, and I applaud her, too, for letting me be a boss when I had to be. That says a lot about her.
When Fridays rolled around we always left at the same time and spent quality time together. I believe that’s where our relationship changed for the better, for the long run.