Over the course of four years living away from home to go to school, you tend to grow up. You not only get older, but you have experiences that can’t be replicated as a high school student or while living at home. You mature, you gain a better understanding of the world around you and you change. It happens to all of us.

The weird thing to think about is that the same thing is happening at home. If you have younger siblings like I do, you sometimes forget that they are going through the same things you are, just on a different scale. You’ve already done all the high school or grade school things, but they haven’t yet and their experiences there are just as important as yours are.

Last weekend, I had the chance to go home to be my youngest sister’s Confirmation sponsor. In the Catholic Church, Confirmation signifies becoming an adult and usually happens to children when they’re in eighth or ninth grade. It’s hard for me to think of my little sister as anywhere close to adulthood, but it’s true! She’s fourteen and will be a freshman in high school next year; the baby sister is no longer a baby. My other sister just turned sixteen and will be a high school junior in the fall. I don’t know when they grew up.

The nice thing about my sisters reaching these ages is that we have a better chance for a relationship than we did when we were younger. We can now have conversations more than about who ate the last cookie or changing the television channel, they can hold a discussion over books or movies. They have become people who I can trust and they now trust me with the little details of their lives. My sisters are smart and compassionate people and I like to think that I might have influenced them a little bit.

Growing up has definitely affected both sides of the stereotypical sibling struggles. We’re all a little more patient and a little more understanding of each other. We’re more appreciative of the bond that we have as family. We can tease each other without someone freaking out about name-calling. My sisters have remarkably survived the struggles that we all go through at those ages. I’m so proud of everything they’ve accomplished and I hope they feel the same way about me.

We all grow up and change in college, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that those we’ve left at home when we came to school, aren’t frozen in time and space. They can change and learn too, and sometimes reconciling how they’ve changed with how you’ve changed is difficult. If you’re lucky, these changes will only strengthen your relationships and will turn them into cherished parts of your life.