Thursday, September 8, 2011


I have been thinking about sisters. Sisters in literature to be precise. They always seem to be used to illustrate opposing characteristics, two sides of the same coin. Elizabeth and Jane, Elinor and Maryanne, Antigone and Ismene, Regan/Goneril and Cordelia. The pretty and the interesting, the sensible and the passionate, the resolute and the gentle, the selfish and the loving.

If one is one thing, does that mean the other can't be? Elizabeth was pretty, but not as beautiful as Jane. Elinor was sensible and practical, but full of concealed passion, nonetheless. Maryanne was not without sense. Jane was too subtle and intelligent a writer to fall totally into either/or, but the last groups I mentioned are more black and white.

Other examples are coming to mind. I Dream of Jeannie and her bad, brunette sister. Cinderella and her step-sisters. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (hello SVH!).

I am the mother of sisters. I also have a sister, whom I adore. But she is much younger than I, and the comparisons are not really there to be made when one is a toddler and one a teenager. I can feel in myself the temptation to think of my girls as 'the ___ one', at different times. You know, Abi is sensitive, Evie is confident. Abi is cautious, Evie is bold. Of course, Evie is also sensitive and Abi can be bold, so I feel this maternal labelling, no matter how loving, could limit them in my eyes and in their own.

Do mothers of boy/girl pairs do this? Or mothers of more than two girls?

Abigail Pearl, my heart song, my tender place, my Snow White
Evangeline Flora, my little peach, my joyous girl, my Rose Red

See how addictive? And another pair of diametrically opposed sisters.

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