Real family

Alexis Sendejas

When I was 7, I got the terrible news.

All my life it had just been my mother and me. I liked it like that and in my mind it was the correct family.

I didn’t need a dad or brothers or sisters or grandparents. I had my mom and she was all I needed. She was my best friend. But then that changed.

My mother and her boyfriend, Justin, sat me down on the old, ratty blue couch we had in our small apartment. I was nervous and scared, like anyone would be when their parents say “We need to have a talk.”

“Sweetheart, wouldn’t you love to have someone to play Barbies with and ride bikes with?” my mom said. “I think I have a new best friend for you, and I know you’ll love her so very much.”

I asked her who it was and she just looked down. She grabbed my hand and put it on her stomach. I felt something kick and was frightened. Was there some crazy monster in my mom, something that I thought only existed in R.L. Stein books?

“I am pregnant with a little girl,” she said. “You are going to be a big sister.”

I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to shout “No, no, no!” at the top of my little lungs. How could my mom do this to me? She was ruining our bond and practically replacing me. I ran out of the room and into my bedroom. I grabbed my Barbie suitcase and started throwing my prized possessions inside. All I needed was my fairy Barbie, Scooby Doo pajamas, a pair of undies and my toothbrush. I was set.

I struggled to carry the heavy suitcase through my home and made the long journey to the curb in front of my complex. I sat there and started to wait.

Looking back, I’m not sure what was going through my mind. But in that moment I was more than positive that wherever my dad and his girlfriend, Jenni, were, they would realize I was waiting on that cold curb for them to come and rescue me from my mother’s terrible news.

I sat there for what seemed like hours. The spring sun started to fade into a beautiful sunset. Leaves and birds made ruckus all around me. I heard heavy footsteps and turned around in hopes of seeing my father. But it was just Justin.

“Alexis, why don’t you come back inside,” he said. “It’s getting awfully cold outside, and I don’t want you to get sick. I know you are mad at your mother and me right now, but we want to give you the best gift there is. We want to give you a family.”

It has been 10 years since that day and so much has changed. My mother and Justin got married. My father wed and had children and eventually stopped communicating with me. Most importantly, my mom had my sister.

In the beginning, I wanted nothing to do with her, and to this day I won’t admit to wanting her around. I held her as little as possible and would cringe when people gazed at her little red face. To me, she wasn’t my sister, but as I grew up I realized what a blessing she was. We would play together and I would do her hair. We developed a bond.  Deep in my heart, I love her.

Thinking back to how my mother and I lived alone, I cry. I get so jealous of others and their childhoods. They had a mom and a dad and a happy home. They went to the park and had family game nights when I ate stale cereal by myself for dinner. I didn’t realize it then, but I was missing out on so much. I am so very grateful in my heart for my mom and now step-dad, Justin, for giving me the one thing I thought I never needed: family.

Now I look at my little sister, Brianna, and am overtaken by joy. She brought us all together, giving us a link and a family. No matter what I will always be there for her because she forever changed my life and taught me the beauty of having a family.