We had Sophie to stay last weekend. Neil unavoidably had to work on Saturday morning and so for a few hours it was just us girls. We didn’t have any plans – I knew they would all be tired from busy weeks at school – so we just hung out together (and, bonus, I managed to get a few jobs done around the house).
As an only child I find it almost impossible to even begin to understand or fathom the girls’ relationships with each other. Growing up there was just me, so I kept myself occupied by drawing pictures and reading copious numbers of books, immersing myself in wonderful parallel universes where I was one of the Famous Five, or Nancy Drew’s sidekick. I practised handstands against the sofa and bounced tennis balls against the wall in our back garden, mostly having conversations with myself in my head. I didn’t know any different, and to me it was wonderful.
Now, as a mother of three girls aged between six and nine, and stepmother to a fourteen year old, all with wildly differing personalities, likes & dislikes and ideas about the world, I watch them all interacting with each other in complete awe (once I’ve got my head around the increased noise and number-of-people factor – it’s tough being an introvert in a larger than average family). Of course there are arguments and disagreements, and plenty of “I had it first!” and “She’s being mean to me!” and “I hate you!”‘s. But there is also an enormous amount of love and affection between them – an unshakeable bond that they always come back to no matter how much they’ve upset each other.
Ella, Mimi and Lola all utterly adore Sophie – she’s their big sister and they really look up to her. In return, she’s absolutely brilliant with them and is equally happy playing ‘mums-and-dads’ or teaching them the words to the latest Little Mix song. Her patience with them is unending and for that I am grateful as I am so often less than patient with them myself. Once they’re in bed she instantly reverts back to being a teenager, beating her Dad at Fifa on the Xbox or watching endless repeats of Friends on the TV, but I like to think that during those times of freedom just playing with her little sisters she lets go of the burdens of teenager-hood, like friendship troubles or schoolwork or braces, and she just plays and has fun. I’m so glad we can offer her the space to do that.
I love these shots of them doing each other’s hair – it’s exactly what I envisioned when I hoped for daughters. I can imagine them all as they grow up – borrowing each other’s clothes and make up, going shopping together and telling each other secrets and stories that they wouldn’t possibly dream of sharing with me. And I love that. The thing I want most in the world is for them to keep the strong bond that they do, to be best friends as well as sisters.
They begged Sophie to paint their nails for them and were so excited when she (and I!) said yes. I’m not really all that girly – I’m rubbish at doing hairstyles and only paint my nails about twice a year (mainly due to lack of time) – so it’s fantastic that they’ve got their big sister to show them all of these things (and maybe I’ll learn a thing or two as well!). They each chose the colours they wanted and sat oh-so-patiently waiting their turns. We chatted the whole time – about school and friends and holidays and worries and things that make us happy.
Sophie is next coming to stay with us in just a couple of weeks time, for the second half of May half term. We can’t wait to have her with us again and we’ve got lots of fun things planned to do together as a family, which I’m sure I’ll be writing about on the blog in the weeks that follow. Watch this space 🙂