Guinea Pig Daughter


My little sister leaves for Morocco today. She’s studying there for a semester and I’m both ridiculously excited and incredibly jealous. It also scares the bejeezus out of me.

Veronica (Ronnie) is eleven years younger than me and one of my best friends. We call each other twinnies because we look so much alike, but also because for the longest time we were basically the same person, eleven years apart.

Having a sibling so much younger is a little bit like having a trial run at what raising your own children will be like. It’s not exact, certainly, but I’ve been there for the diaper changes, the dance recitals, the awkward (for both of us) growing up questions, and the heart-wrenching feeling of comforting a broken heart.

I’m overprotective of her. When she was thirteen, my parents let her go somewhere with friends (the mall maybe?) and my gut reaction was that she was too young to go without us. What if she gets lost? Kidnapped? Pickpocketed?

Now, imagine all that from a continent away.

I know I get on her nerves sometimes. She’s told me I act like her mother… but I remind her that I spoil her like I’m her grandmother. I so badly want her to be happy and safe and feel a responsibility to keep her both.

Do I sound like a misplaced mama bear yet?

This is all very fortunate for my own children because I already worry about their health, happiness, and safety like it’s my job. (oh wait…) But having a guinea pig daughter, as my husband and I affectionately call Ronnie, has also made me much more chill as a parent. Diaper changes were easy from the start. Temper tantrums are annoying, but nothing I haven’t seen. Baby roll off the couch? Yeah, there was that one time I was watching Ronnie when she was a baby… let’s just say she’s fine. ?

Of course, a little sister wasn’t perfect practice for my own children and I haven’t gotten beyond the toddler years of motherhood so figuring out a teenage daughter (and son) versus a teenage sister will present its own differences and challenges, I’m sure.

What I do hope is that the friendship that my sister and I have now is indicative of the relationship I will have with my babies when they are grown. And I know that no matter what age they are, I will still worry about them. Because my sister is twenty and I still see her as seven years old and want to protect her, even from halfway across the world.

So, Ronnie, be careful. Stay safe. Don’t forget your inhaler. Message me every day. Take pictures and learn a lot. And have SO MUCH fun. I love you, BabyDoll!