The big sister without a father kind.
I’m the eldest sister in a stable single-mother household. What I mean by that is after my father died, my mother never married or asked for help of other relatives. In our house, it’s just us. This family dynamic has been my reality for more than 10 years now and I wish I can tell you it has become easier, but it hasn’t.
A lot of times, I feel like I’m the rope in tug-of-war where I constantly strike a balance between being the ate (Filipino for older sister) and being the second parent. Since my mom is usually preoccupied with financial obligations, I am the person in charge of running the household. Often times, I even have the power to give out punishment if necessary. While it may seem fun at first, it kind of screws with your system especially since in reality, I’m a child too.
Being an ate/parent is no easy task. I feel responsible when my siblings don’t abide by house rules and I fear that one decision I make would end up making them bad people later on. This fear makes me even more strict as their guardian and it ends up putting our sibling relationship on a strain. My siblings now see me as someone to fear rather than someone they can talk to when they need help. It is kind of difficult when you want to keep that level of authority and at the same time, you want them to see you as their friend.
Today, I had to strike that balance and I think I failed. It is one of those days that I wish I never had this responsibility in the first place. However, I do realize that this task was something I cannot escape because no one would care for my siblings the way I do. If I don’t focus on trying to make them better people, no one will do it for me and my mom. This balance between the two seemingly opposing roles I play is actually one and the same; they are both geared towards one goal. The goal is to make sure my siblings grow up okay. It’s difficult, yes, but there is no other way because my heart will not take it if any of them got lost or broken. As a ‘parent,’ I have to be strong and decisive; as an ‘ate,’ I have to remember to see them as equals from time to time and understand their perspective. It’s difficult, but I can’t give up.
So to my brother, if ever you read this, I hope you understand why today had to happen. I understand you, and I love you, and I hope one day you realize the truth. Family is constant, never forget that.