Growing up, I was always jealous of my friends who had sisters. They had a built-in best friend, confidant, support system, and roommate. My closest childhood friends, two sisters who lived down the street, shared a room from the time my friend, Cindy, was born until the older sister, Jane, graduated from college. Even when they could have separated themselves from each other, they chose to live together on campus. Of course, I remember many times when they were at war and once when Cindy and I taped a line down the middle of their room; but even today, they are the best of friends.
My mother and her sister, Debbie, are also best friends, talking often, getting together for dinner, day trips, and visits with family. My Aunt Debbie was the closest thing I ever had to a sister since she and I are just fifteen years apart. It’s a cherished relationship, but it’s not quite the same as having that sisterly bond. I grew up longing to be a sibling to Laura, Mary, and Carrie Ingalls, or one of the Walton girls, or a member of the March clan. After all, I was named after Amy March. Why did she get sisters, and I didn’t? Oh to have two or three sisters, that was a dream that I couldn’t get enough of. And I’ll be darned if God doesn’t work in funny and sometimes frustrating ways.
I’ve spent the last 18 years witnessing firsthand the phenomenon that is sisterly love. I’ve been told by many people that having three girls, not two and not four, but three is the roughest scenario. Two are always on one side, and the third is always on another. Throughout their lives, my girls have been able to go from the best of friends to the worst of enemies in less than ten seconds. Our youngest, Morgan, laments almost daily that she doesn’t know what she will do without Katie next year when our middle daughter goes off to college.
Those same days, she can be heard telling Katie, “I can’t wait until you’re gone!” Really? I shake my head and ask myself if this is really what I imagined all those years ago. I don’t remember the Ingalls girls, or Mary Ellen, Erin, and Elizabeth Walton, or Jo and her March sisters having the same daily arguments and struggles with their sisters that my girls have. Okay, maybe the March sisters, but Jo and Amy did have very strong personalities.
And that, I believe, is the monster I deal with. I have two daughters who are very strong-willed and have quite similar overbearing personalities. I’ve often wondered if Katie feels crushed between them as the middle child. How different her life will be next year when she is on her own. And how quiet it will be here. There won’t be any more morning arguments because Katie is running late for school. Again. There won’t be any accusations that someone wore someone else’s sweater without asking or, God forbid, that they came down wearing almost matching outfits. There won’t be fights over who didn’t clean up her mess or left the cap off the toothpaste. On the other hand, there won’t be those moments when one cries on the other’s shoulder; when one runs into the house, past me at lightening speed, because she has to share big news with her sister, or when the beautiful sound laughter wakes me late at night during a spontaneous sister slumber party.
Irving Berlin’s words sure ring true in our house:
There were never such devoted sisters
Never had to have a chaperone “No, sir”
I’m there to keep my eye on her
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress and I stayed home
All kinds of weather
We stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two diff’rent faces
But in tight places
We think and we act as one
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up but no one can
Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister
Who comes between me and my man
As the song says, sisters should be devoted to each other, share, care, and let nothing come between them. They are there for each other to celebrate milestones. They comfort one another in sadness. They have fun together, and they care deeply about each other. No matter what happens, they know that they are there for each other.
I don’t think I will ever fully understand the relationship between my three girls. It rips my heart out when I hear them tell one another that they hate each other, and it brings me to tears when I see them cuddled together on the couch, sharing a bowl of popcorn while they watch a favorite show. God does work in mysterious ways. He never gave me the sister I longed for, but he made me the mother of sisters; and somehow, I think that’s even better.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her book, Whispering Vines, is a 2017 Illumination Award winner. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.