Growing up with no sisters was nothing different for me. Being the only girl was (and still is) the norm. Having 6 brothers and no sisters was at times, a challenge.
So what does being an only girl teach you about life?
It teaches you to be independent and fight for your own patch at home (a great life skill to have), but working collaboratively in a bustling Samoan household also meant that having brothers around me made me feel protected and loved. Primary school was always a fun time because with an older brother at school, no boys would even dare to get cheeky. Even with the younger brother with me at primary school, he also had a protective streak (comes with attending two primary schools in the other two distinct areas of Auckland - West Auckland and Central Auckland). The other brother was at intermediate school already and the other three brothers were already living overseas.
So how did I learn about being a sister?
Growing up in church with all of your church friends taught you socialisation skills and prepared you for the world. Growing up with a very large extended family (both sides of the family too, this is quite typical of Samoan families!) allowed opportunities to consolidate my place in how families interact and work together to bring honour to one's family.
It quickly became apparent to me that my mother was a key factor in helping to develop my relationships and connections with my peers, girls my own age, as well as older females who would become role models and mentors. Through life you may come across 'sisters from different misters' or 'brothers from another mother'.
Attending an all-girls high school was another key factor in helping to develop but I think even more importantly, cement my bonds with the sisterhood. Going to high school in the early 90s (MC Hammer had just arrived on the scene, Bobby Brown was busy taking every little step) meant that we were just coming out of that era of "girls can do anything". The feminist movement continued to gain momentum and was quite strong during that time (because the posters on the wall at school told me).
I think I just want to acknowledge all of the strong women in my life who I call "sister" and call me "sis" in return. Even acknowledging women in their weak moments, because after all, without the weak moments that's how we become strong.
Whether we are sisters in Christ, sisters in arms (you know the causes we've been fighting and continue to rage against the machine!) sisters from different misters, sisters from different races and different places, in the many contexts I am privileged to be included, but thank you all very much ladies for everything that you are and for what you do. I admire all of the mothers who want the best for their children and teach their children to be strong and smart about life and their choices, because as we know, those choices lead to experiences.
I reflect today on a younger brother who is celebrating his birthday. And a sister in law who is also celebrating her birthday today. Her son, my nephew is one of the greatest examples of a how a mother's love, good intentions and hopes have produced such a wonderful well-adjusted and prepared-for-the-world young man, That is testament to a strong woman with high expectations and zero tolerance for mediocrity (love it!)
Please take the time to acknowledge the sisters in your lives and think long and hard about the value they have added to the richness of your own lives. No matter where I go or what I do, there is always time for family. And if you don't have time, it is time to make time.
We are family, I got all my sisters with me - even the ones who have passed on.