Growing up as a triplet is a unique experience in so many ways. It’s truly so hard to explain to those that are only children or have older or younger siblings, especially because being a triplet is all I have ever known (especially since we don’t have any other siblings).
I think the biggest thing about being a triplet is the role it plays in our lives, from childhood to adulthood in terms of stepping back and ‘who’s on first’ (for lack of a better term).
This may sound pretty obvious, but as triplets, there is an inherent urge to ‘compete’ and ‘be on first’ since there is naturally much less of an ability for that, growing up exactly the same age, doing exactly the same things at exactly the same time.
But there are just times when you need to step back. Take the backseat and let one (or both) of your sisters shine. Be ‘on first.’ And ultimately, to be the proud sister supporting, quietly, strong. There.
There are two distinct examples of this in recent years. The first one is when my sister Jen had my niece Isabel two years ago. As the first to bring a child into this world, naturally, the focus was on her, and my niece. But as there were some major complications with my niece’s birth and several months of health issues to follow for my sister, life became all hands on deck, supporting her, helping get her back to health and help take care of our beautiful niece. It was honestly a very scary time, my fear that my sister was…well, very ill, was one of the scariest feelings. And I just wanted to take it all away for her and carry some of that physical burden. And then…she recovered. She grew stronger. We banded together and supported.
And from that point forward, seeing my sister flourish as a mother, getting through an extremely difficult and traumatic health experience and stepping into the role of mother has been one of the proudest times for me as a sister. As she experienced something neither Jess or I ever have, and had, for the first time, experienced something completely different than either Jess or I had. She is a shining example of what I hope to ever achieve as a mother one day, the devotion, love, and strength she carries for my niece is incredible.
And while this experience, to this day, signaled the first time we were going through a life experience differently, separately…not the same (as our lives had paralleled in so many ways all the way through life)…the one common factor in all of this?
Allowing her to ‘be on first’ and supporting her throughout as much as we possibly could. And from that experience onward? I don’t think our bond as sisters could be much stronger than it is now. Even though we are now living our lives differently, in so many ways. We still share the common bond, the sisterhood, the support, and the love that is indescribable.
The second example of this is this weekend. My sister Jess’s first marathon. While I won’t detail anything about the race itself, since she will do that herself and do it plenty more justice than I ever could, watching it all unfold was simply one of the proudest moments for me as a sister. The outpouring of support. Twitter, Facebook, emails, texts, phone calls. Support, support, support.
Preparing to run sherpa their race, I knew this weekend was going to be incredible. A blur. And, honestly? Work. I knew it would take a lot of support, planning and running around to help make this happen for her. To help keep her calm (even with a near-Healthy Bites disaster!!). To make sure she felt ready. To carry her big ass bag of post-race needs as M and I hoofed it miles and miles and more miles to the start, mile 8, mile 15 and mile 26.2 to run sherpa our asses off (and freeze them off too!!). And to allow her to ‘be on first.’
Not once did I feel like I wish I was out there running with her (okay, maybe once, when I realized I could have planned to hop in for a few miles to run alongside her! Hindsight.). Not once did I feel sad that we weren’t sharing this together. (because we were, truthfully!) I just felt pride, joy and happiness. Tweeting out updates left and right. Fielding texts and emails for updates and requests for pictures all morning long….gave me joy. I loved seeing her ‘on first’ and getting all of the support and love that she deserves.
And when she crossed that finish line, I think I may have rivaled how proud they both felt. As tears rolled down my cheeks and I shakily tweeted “Ahhhh there they go! Hand in hand!!!! #teamsutera #finish #runsherpa”, I was happy. Simply happy beyond words. And I still am.
I share this story because it has been a time of reflection for me lately. Thinking about my tendencies as a sister and the shift I have really worked hard at in terms of the comparison trap, the competing for ‘being on first’ that has inherently been a part of our lives our entire lives. I no longer get the urge to want to do what my sisters do simply because they are doing them and I want to do it together. I just find ways to share in their separate joys with them, my way.
For Jen, it was stepping into backup mom role with midnight feedings when she was ill, and taking her to doctor’s appointments (as tough as those appointments could be sometimes, I, to this day, look at them fondly as sister days, where Jen and I grew closer than ever. I am pretty sure she is thinking of the very same appointment I am, as she reads this!). And it is working on being the best aunt I can be, spending time with my niece, learning from her, teaching her. <–I am still really working on this, and finding more time to spend together. It is my vow, sis!
For Jess, it has been finding my role in supporting her training for a marathon. When she first decided she wanted to do a marathon, my first thought was ‘I wish I wanted to run a marathon’ and as much as I tried to want it…I just didn’t. And that was okay. It was a turning point for me in realizing I don’t have to do what either of my sisters does. And writing this down and admitting that I used to feel that way, while hard, feels triumphant.
Because now? I am the proudest sister on the planet, of both of my sisters and their different paths, while I create my own path and life in this world that is truly me and mine.
I love you sisters, and I am truly thankful for you each and every day. <3