In previous blogs, I have attempted to define motherhood, fatherhood, friendship and other things, and it is not an easy thing, because I get so subjective to an extent of annoying people. So, the other day, when my friend told me: “Why dont you try to define sisterhood…” I was swayed, but I didnt have the right description, so I called for other sisters and friends to help me define sisterhood.
How do I start this? What is sisterhood?
Sisterhood is a bond that is above blood relation. It is a connection that goes beyond being siblings. Sisterhood brings together two or more women who share a lot in common, and helps them thrive in their union. Sisterhood is to be there for your friend, it is to be present when your friend is passing through the hot furnace of life, it is to be there when your friend is going through incapacitating disease, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, difficult birth, surgery, dark edges of mourning, divorce, separation, pain, sorrow, confusion…it is spending the nights with a friend who is puking her guts out, it is to wipe her tears when she gets overwhelmed by her situation. It is to be by her side when she needs you, without expecting a favor in return. Sisterhood requires that you stay and offer a hand for your sister to hang on. Sisterhood is STAYING.
Sisterhood is a call to hold the secrets of a fellow sister. Yes, it is. Your sister will tell you things that lie so deep inside her. Her fears, her worries, her beliefs, her dark past, her attempt to rise, her mistakes, her erratic ways. Sisterhood requires that you listen and keep these secrets regardless. Sisterhood does not mean that when you fall out, you scatter these secrets and embarrass your friend. That is IMMATURITY. A sister who tells on the secrets of the other presents herself for judgment, she shows how stupidly low she can sink. You see, sisterhood is a call to safeguard the integrity of a fellow sister and to ensure that her secrets are safe no matter the situation. A sister is one who can hold the secrets of the other, even when the foundation of that friendship is crumbling deep and fast. Sisterhood is a RESPONSIBILITY.
Sisterhood is to teach. To hold the hand of your fellow sister and teach her things that continually evade her. Sisterhood is to send a fellow sister a recipe she has been struggling to grasp. It is to hold her baby and teach her what to do when she is walking through the confusing maze of first time motherhood. Sisterhood is to help her calm the troubled waters of her life. Sometimes sisterhood is silence. It is watching your sister from a distance as she makes the weary trudge towards finding herself. Sisterhood is to embrace the differences that you have, and not force a fellow sister to be like you, that is BULLYING. Sisterhood is to let your sister express herself in the way that she knows how to, and encompass these differences to create a beautiful thing. Sisterhood is ACCEPTANCE.
Sisterhood is presence. It is to be there when your sister is crushing her teeth and her tears are flowing. It is to rush to her when she has lost her baby, and to hug her so tight. It is to assure her that you care…through deeds, ala, not just words.
It is to try to be there when she is making the small beautiful milestones. It is to be there for her graduation, her wedding, her job promotion, her loss of job the burial of a loved one. Sisterhood is to ensure there is communication. It is not to always wait for her to be the one who calls. No. That is selfishness. Sisterhood is to pick that phone and call not only when you have a problem or when you need a soft loan, or company. Sisterhood is to call, even just to catch up and see how the other is coming. Sisterhood doesnt mean you exploit the other…to borrow money, to borrow clothes, to always be needy on a shoulder to cry on. No. Sometimes sisterhood is to take care of your own shit just to relieve the other of the burdens of carrying your issues. Sisterhood is a CALLING.
Sisterhood is respect. It is to draw that indelible line and know where you cant cross. It is to respect the spouse of your sister. It is to say a big NO when your friend’s partner makes a stupid move. A true sister cannot even think of snatching the man of the other, that is for cheap woman and HYPOCRITES. A sister does not sow hatred among other sisters. She does not spread rumors and light a fire that will take so long to extinguish. Sisterhood thrives on peace and laughter. The small conflicts are resolved amicably among sisters. A sister knows where her class is, she doesn’t need unnecessary drama to establish her presence. She doesn’t always have to cause a show for her to be noticed. That is for children and people with low self esteem. Sisters know where the standard is, and goddam it, they never stoop low to compromise that standard. Sisterhood is STANDARD.
Sometimes sisterhood is to stand up and tell off a sister. Yes, itb is to face a sister and tell her: “Chick, you are tripping… Madam, you need to control your drinking….sister, you are too pretty to have a man who doesnt respect you….my dear, look for a job and stop over depending on your husband…sweet heart, you have shed enough tears because of a past you cant erase, it is about time that you rise up and start living the present….”
sisterhood is to advise, but not in a judgmental way, it is not to stand in a high place and don the clothes of perfection. Sisterhood is to listen to a sister’s dreams, ambitions and rising without feeling that tinge of jealousy climbing up on you. It is to cheer your sister on, it is not to bring the other down, just so you can get a thrill. no. Sisterhood is to be able to watch a sister going places, and to smile genuinely and say: “I am happy for you bitch…i am also on my way up that ladder….” Sisterhood is CONTRADICTION.
Sisterhood is not to cut the other out just because you have gotten married. It is not to leave out your friend with whom you have walked through childhood, teenage and growth together just because you have gotten into an institution. That is WRONG. Sisterhood is not to look through your friend because you now wear suits to work while your sister is a hustler who still wears jeans. Sisterhood is not to ignore a sister who has been your treasured confidant just because you are now a mother and you feel she will wast your time. Sisterhood is enshrined deep inside, that it is able to crushed the barriers and still triumph. Sisterhood is ETERNAL.
Sisterhood is to fight for a sister when she is silenced by some situations. It is to stand up for her and defend her. Yes, sometimes you do not even have to support what she has done. It is however to stand between her and the people who are attacking her, and defend her when she is so powerless. Sisterhood is to guard her honor, it is to shield her against the blows that come with life. It is to have her back. Sometimes sisterhood doesnt even need you to fight for her. No, sometimes, it just requires that you keep quiet until things calm down. To crush your friend and join the ones who are talking ill behind her back is BETRAYAL. Sisterhood is to help your friend choose the battles that are worth fighting. It is to whisper to her: “Baby, let it go…you is BEAUTIFUL, you is LOVELY, and regardless of what happened, you are still my friend. Sisterhood is not to throw your friend under the bus just because she is not with you at the moment. Sisterhood is putting yourself at the shoes of a fellow sister and asking yourself “How would it feel…” it is to know that perfection is an Illusion. Sisterhood is setting a bar for your friendship, but ensuring that you dont complain when the same bar is used on you. It is not double standards this thing called sisterhood. It is TO LIVE AND LET LIVE.
So, hoooray to my beautiful sisters, they that have held my back even though we are not related by birth, hooray to the spirit of sisterhood – the very thing that has helped women rise. Hooray to my blood sisters for the block that they have created around me. Hoooray to my friend Amy, without whom I wouldnt have been who I am.
And of course, a special thanks to Josephine Otieno, Wairimu Kiiru, Sara Oduor, and Muthoni Saruni for helping me define what sisterhood is.
Hug a sister out there. Write to them and tell them you are glad to have them as sisters. Call them….
what does sisterhood mean to you?