Maybe this is old hat by now, but I keep discovering new podcasts that I get really excited about. Most recently, thanks to my friend Keegan, I’ve become enthralled with Stuff Mom Never Told You. It’s similar to This American Life in that each segment has a specified topic, but SMNTY is more of just a discussion between the two hosts Molly and Cristen (who are hilarious, by the way) in which they approach the topic from all angles and incorporate a good deal of statistics and studies done on said topic. It’s really fascinating.
So this weekend, as I was making a long drive (again), I was listening to SMNTY and happened to click on a segment about sisters. According to Molly and Cristen (and statistics, maybe more accurately), a decent amount of research has been done about people who have sisters and how that affects their overall demeanor. Apparently, people who have sisters are generally more happy and more optimistic and less likely to get depressed than people who don’t have sisters.
I don’t have sisters.
My immediate reaction was to think that maybe this made sense in the context of my life: maybe I find myself dissatisfied and a little morose more often than “normal people” because I don’t have sisters. But that was a fleeting thought that was quickly replaced by “Yeah right, my brothers are way cooler than most sisters probably are!”
Truth be told, there have been times when I’ve really wanted a sister. It’s mostly when I meet girls who have sisters and have a really good relationship with them. I had a roommate a couple years ago who had a sister a couple years older than her, and when she and her husband moved to New York, my roommate and her sis would talk almost every day on the phone, and her sis would send her sweet little care packages in the mail, and they had adorable nicknames for each other, and when the sis would come visit they would stay up all night talking and giggling. It was really pretty precious, and it made sigh, because I’ve never had that. I’ve never had a sister to stay up all night giggling with, or to share clothes or secrets with. It’s usually only when I stop to think about it that it strikes me as a major bummer.
But most of the time, I am content with not having a sister because I have two amazing brothers and I definitely wouldn’t trade either of them for a sister, or for anything else. Part of what studies have posited about sisters is that they’re more nurturing and function as a kind of emotional outlet, which is why people with sisters are generally happier. To that I say bully, because my brothers are two of the most tender-hearted and empathetic men I know. I don’t know that I would call them an emotional outlet, but I know I can talk to them if I need to and that they’ll listen and try to help if they can, and if they’re within physical proximity and can see that I’m upset about something, they’ll put their arm around me and squish me and tell me “It’s okay, sister.” And that in itself is an emotional comfort. Plus, I know that they would kick anyone’s ass who gave me any trouble (and of course I would do the same for them, and have probably threatened to do so more often than they have, ha). Our sibling loyalty runs deep.
Another thing that I’ve occasionally observed about sisters is that the tendency toward cattiness is much greater between two female siblings. And maybe we’re an unusual case, but I have never not gotten along with my brothers. We never punched and kicked each other, we were never competitive, we never really fought in any real way. We’ve always just loved each other and thought each other was great and supported each other in everything we do, so it’s always been weird to me to know people who don’t get along with their siblings or aren’t close to them, because my brothers are my two favorite people in the world. I think having brothers has been a supreme benefit because I’ve grown up to not be a catty girl: my interactions with my brothers have always been pretty laid back, and I feel like that has shaped how I interact with all people. I think I’d have to try pretty hard to be catty at this point. And because I’ve grown up with brothers, I have a much easier time getting along with, and not being awkward around, boys than I do with girls.
Beyond all of that, my brothers are just good people. They’re both really intelligent, and really funny, and they always treat women with respect, and they value their family, and they’re kind and we always have so much fun together. I think even if I had had one sister and my two brothers, the dynamics of our sibling relationship would have been a lot different. All of which is to say, I think my brothers are the best and I’m glad I have them instead of sisters.