Sibling Squabbling

My sister Amy is two years older than I.  That’s a good age difference.  Over the years, we’ve been super-close — sharing paper dolls and clothes and good times.

But even sisters who like each other have moments like this:

“MOM!  Amy has been in the bathroom forEVer!”

“MOM!  Ginny keeps playing that stupid Phantom of the Opera music and it is driving me CRAZY!”

“MOM!  Amy still hasn’t fed the rabbit, and now I’m going to have to do it AGAIN!”

Over the years, my mom has done what all moms do: she has been The Restorer of Harmony.  When Amy and I were at any kind of impasse, scowling at each other (or worse), Mom would step in.  Sometimes she’d restore peace through an executive order: “Ginny, turn off your music for a while.”  Other times, she’d hear both sides, sigh, say “You girls will just have to work this out between yourselves,” and leave us alone to grudgingly broker a truce.   The reconciliations were not always swift or easy; I’d often turn down my music mutinously, muttering about my sister’s lack of taste.  But, eventually, with Mom’s help, Amy and I would move beyond the place where we were stuck.  The ice of the tension would crack.  Eventually, a thaw would come.

queenofpeace2When I interviewed my mom for the book Mary and Me, I was curious to hear what she’d have to say about Mary.  Given my mom’s past experience as Resolver of Conflict, her answer should not have surprised me.  “Mary represents so much peace,” she told me.  “When I look at her, I feel peaceful.”

I like to think of Mary in this light, as a force for calm.  So many of her messages have to do with peace.  In her apparitions, she asks us to pray for an end to war, or for the softening of hearts that are hardening into hatred.  Like any mom, she longs for her kids to get along together, to have a happy home: only, for her, the home is the entire universe, and the kids are all of us.  She can’t force us to love one another — it wouldn’t be love if it isn’t freely chosen — but she can nudge us toward harmony.   Like all moms, she can throw us the tantalizing option of rising above our pettiness and our grudges.

My own kids are pretty young ( two-and-a-half and eight months) so I haven’t yet had to do much in the way of restoring peace.   But, if my boys are anything like my sister and I — or like every other set of siblings on the planet — they’ll eventually have their moments of conflict.  I’m hoping that, when they do, I’ll be up to the task.  I hope that I’ll be able to slip into the role that my mom played so instinctively, that Mary plays so beautifully: the restorer of harmony, the bringer of peace.

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