Unique Threads: The Differences among Siblings

Few relationships are as fascinating and complex as that shared between siblings. I’m always so amazed at how different my kids are from one another. Raised in the same ways and under the same roof, siblings come with a distinct set of traits, quirks and personalities that make them uniquely themselves. There is beauty in being raised and molded by the same maternal love, yet unfolding into vastly different beings.

As I look at my own children – brother and sister – I’m in awe at how their personalities came with each of them from the day they were born. Knowing how they are now, and looking back at how they were as tiny tots, they really haven’t changed much. Maybe now, their traits come through just a little bit brighter and little bit louder.

Diverse personalities, common roots

Moms get front row seats to the incredible show. From contrasting personalities – the risk-taking adventurer and the cautious planner – to varied interests – cue hauling one to soccer practice and the other to ballet. As a mom, observing (and dealing with) these differences is remarkable (and sometimes exhausting).

Sibling diversity sometimes makes me pause to wonder: “How on earth are you two related?” Navigating my kids’ differences is like a delicate work of art. It can sometimes feel like you’re in the front seat of a rollercoaster without a seatbelt (or maybe that’s just parenthood in general). In most cases, moms find themselves playing the role of mediator, diplomat, and cheerleader all at the same time. How can you celebrate the achievements of one child without making the other feel less seen or less heard? No matter what or how I do it, my kids are each convinced that I love the other one more.

Finding a delicate balance that allows each child to shine is an ongoing journey of exploration and learning (and a lot of self doubt).

A unique love that binds

What makes the differences among siblings truly magical is the love that binds them together. As much bickering and teasing that goes on, my kids hate being without each other. When one isn’t home, the other seems lost, and vice versa. They just can’t wait to see each other despite their differences. At the end of the day, they know that they’ll always have each other. It's a love that outdoes the dissimilarities, and one that adapts and evolves every single day. Their relationship is heartwarming and inspiring (and did I mention exhausting?). There’s an unspoken bond that weaves them together creating a collage of memories and experiences that is uniquely theirs.   

Think about it

How do your children differ? What are their quirks and personalities? Or, maybe you have a sibling that is the extreme opposite of you.

I once wrote a piece on ‘Family’ where part of it lead me to explore my kids. It only seems logical to share it now. Here is a small glimpse into the differences of my one and the other.

One and the other

One of you was born on a cold, early December night. The other one of you was born on a hot, late July afternoon. Two years and eight months apart. One of you was a NICU baby, the other one of you was tough. Both of you were premature.

One of you kept me awake through the night for an entire 15 months before I finally let you cry it out and sooth yourself to sleep. The other one of you slept 6 hours straight, through the night, from the very start.

One of you loves to be warm and cozy, snuggled up under a blanket. The other one of you is always hot and kicks the blanket off. Both of you love snuggles and ask for “just one more” when I tuck you into bed.

One of you says “hi mom” when I come home. The other one of you screams and runs to the door with excitement. Both of you have shown these different behaviors since each of you was tiny. I love how it hasn’t changed.

One of you needs everything to be perfect; to know exactly what’s happening and when; tries so hard at everything, and gets so hard on yourself when it doesn’t go as planned. That same one of you is soft spoken and crazy smart. The other one of you is carefree, goes with the flow, is loud, makes friends with anyone and is just so darn cute. Both of you are curious and inquisitive. Both of you are perfect.

One of you will get dressed with whatever pieces of clothing you first see when you open your drawer. The other one of you is a boding fashionista, carefully hand picking each outfit and making sure it looks dazzling.

One of you is often serious, the other one of you is not.

One of you loves all things math, physics and science. The other one of you just wants to dance. Both of you are so different, and each of you hates being apart.

One of you calls out for me when I’ve left the room. The other one of you says to stop worrying so much. Both of you love to be with your family. And both of you hurt deeply for those that you miss.

One of you smiles for photographs with lips closed and lets your eyes give the charm. The other one of you tilts your head and smiles from ear to ear with the peace sign stretched out far in front of your body.

One of you wants to take on the world and is already planning a degree from MIT. The other one of you still play-talks like a baby. Both of you will do great things.

One of you dreams of going to Greece, the other one of you to Hawaii. Both of you will keep having to travel with me, for now.

One of you has the appetite of a growing pre-teen, eating everything in sight. But the same one of you isn’t big on sweets. The other one of you likes to play feeding games and would eat something sugary for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let you, but I don’t.

One of you questions God and religion. The other one of you was so proud to get the sacrament of Communion in “God’s house”. Both of you are kind and have a solid moral foundation.

One of you calls me out when I’m wrong. The other one of you crosses your arms, stomps up the stairs and doesn’t talk.

One of you is learning Mandarin for fun. The other one of you is learning Portuguese so that you can speak with your Brazilian friends at school. Both of you should really be learning Italian first.

One of you reminds me of me, now. The other one of you reminds me of me, when I was young. Both of you are loved.

One of you feels our broken family a little bit more. The same one of you heard a bit more, saw a bit more and feels the loss a bit more. The other one of you was too young to know the difference.

Both of you make up this little family now. Constant and consistent – in who you are and in your differences. Love, stand up for, and be there for one another - both of you will be each other’s home in this big world.

One of you is Nicholas. The other one of you is Kiara. Better known as Nico and Kiki.

Or in this case, as one and the other.

And I love you just the same.