BlogHer Original Post

Sister Math is very different from regular run-of-the-mill math. It's sort of like string theory is to algebra--it just operates on a very different set of rules. For instance, in Sister Math, the amount of times your sibling has done something is directly proportional to how much trouble they will be in when caught. They may have only done it two times if no one is ever going to know but that number can swell well into the double digits if mum or dad notices.

2 + 2 really can equal "ten times today alone" if the transgression is something like raiding the liquor cabinet.

Sister Math is a shifty sort of thing where the length of time you dated your loser boyfriend changes depending on the who is hearing the story and the number of times you have borrowed your sister's pink sweater shifts depending on what she needs from you.

It is rumoured that a mathematician on the shortlist for the next Fields Medal has made studying Sister Math her life's work and well-covered in her research are Patience, Jen, and Kristen, the writers of PBS's new Supersister blog. These three sisters create a blog that is six times as fun, nine times as interesting, and twelve times as amusing as your regular blog. Which is entirely possible under Sister Math.

More importantly, the advice of a sister is somehow twenty times more helpful than advice given by even the most revered of parenting experts. Building on that unique element of Sister Math, the Supersister blog, which discusses raising children, is also twenty times more helpful to you.

It's a blog where chocolate is necessary, capes are encouraged, and children are many. These three sisters dish on parenting--raising girls, raising boys, and bringing the whole family together with projects such as book making and documenting acts of kindness. I figuratively sat down with Supersister, Jen Lemen, in this online interview to learn more about growing up with sisters and raising their broods together.

Mel: So, tell me, what is the best part about growing up with sisters?

Jen: Definitely the clothes. You have your own wardrobe times at least two or three, as long as you follow the unspoken rules of sharing: new items are off limits and you probably should not lend your sister's best sweater to your best friend's mother.

Also, there's this fierce loyalty we had growing up. We could fight like cats and dogs but if someone was mean to one of us, there was always hell to pay from the others.

Mel: A threesome can sometimes lead to divide and conquer techniques by ganging up on one sister. Did this ever happen in your youth and what would you do if you noticed siblings or cousins in the younger generation doing it now?

Jen: There are (and were!) times when two of us are getting along better than we are with the others because of stage of life or current interests, but it moves around with time and circumstance. The same is true for our kids. We went through a stage where all the kids were pining away for Josiah who was pining away for Madeleine. Now Carter is the main attraction and Madeleine (as the only school-aged girl) is kind of on the outs. We let things be for the most part and redirect if we think someone's feelings are getting hurt.

Mel: What was the best thing you got away with in your youth?

Jen: I had an incredibly boring youth—all episodes of rebellion reserved for my mid-thirties instead. But I did skip school once and I used to drive my Chevy Nova at 100 mph to school everyday (really). It's a miracle I did not kill myself or someone else. I'm still notoriously bad at following the rules of the road.

Mel: Damn, I didn't know Chevy Novas made it to 100 mph. Will your fourth sister make an appearance on the blog?

Jen: I don't know, but that would be very fun if she did. She is a brilliant writer and extremely witty. I'm sure her commentary on our collective parenting would be very revealing and insightful.

Mel: Did all three of you begin blogging at the same time or did one sister rope the others into the writing world?

Jen: I don't know the exact chronology of who started when, but I can say that we've all been doing this for so long now it's hard to remember. We are all writers in our own right with the compressed time of mothers, so it was just a matter of time for each of us to discover the web and make it our medium.

Mel: What is your favourite childhood tradition that you love teaching to your children?

Jen: In our family, Valentine's Day was as big a deal as Christmas. My father brought us each bunches of flowers, boxes of chocolate and my mother made heart shaped meatloaf. I love that kind of magic, and so do my kids.

Mel: What is your best tip for staying calm when everything descends into chaos with the kids?

Jen: I say surrender is the way to go. I've learned over the years that most chaos springs from me clinging to a definition of normal that is simply not realistic. Every child in America falls apart when they are tired or hungry or over-stimulated—why not mine? I do much better when I'm empathetic and try to solve problems bit by bit instead of resisting the inevitable storms.

Melissa is the author of the infertility and pregnancy loss blog, Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters. She keeps a categorized blogroll of over 1400 infertility blogs and writes the daily Lost and Found and Connections Abound, a news source for the infertility blogosphere. Her infertility book, The Land of If, is forthcoming from Seal Press in Spring 2009. She is also an editor at Bridges, the awareness consortium that is currently seeking writers for its 100 Words Project.


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