Helen Bowman (aka @hel_bow) is Editor at Absolutely Mama magazine. She has been wowing us with her beautiful Instagram feed, and minimal nursery interiors since her first daughter Clem Dot was born. Now a mum of two daughters, she shares with us her feelings on raising sisters... Thank you Helen!
There is something very special about having two little girls, especially when you're one of two sisters yourself. My sister and I are really close. Recently she got married and it was such an emotional moment for me; taking stock of how grown-up she has become knocked me for six (in a good way). And now I get to watch a similar story unfold between my own little ones.
Or that's the plan.
At the moment, my eldest, Clem (2 1/2) seems more into the idea of a sister than the reality. Clem is obsessed with music and songs, and will happily sit and sing the 'Sisters' song from White Christmas or another, infinitely more awful one she found on YouTube that goes 'Mummy's got a baby/In her belly'. She tends to her dolls with all the care and affection of a born Big Sister. But when it comes to actually interacting with her own sibling, she's mostly pretty indifferent – if not downright dismissive.
Meanwhile my youngest, Ofèlia Rei (6 months), is lost in admiration for her elder sibling. If Clem is in the room, Baby Rei (as she's known) will be watching her with her big blue eyes, adrift in adulation, smiling at her antics, happily astonished at whatever chaos her elder sister is causing now. For a while, Clem simply ignored her.
Recently though, Rei's devotion has begun to pay off.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've noticed Clem becoming more aware of Rei's attention, more attuned to her needs – and more tender in their (increasingly frequent) interactions. Clem now insists on giving Rei a goodnight kiss before she'll go to bed herself, and she'll tickle or coo at the baby briefly as she passes her during the day – always pausing briefly to enjoy the chortling response.
What's funny is how different they already appear, and yet how well they seem to work together: Clem the performer, incredibly verbal and demonstrative, a natural mimic, aggressively independent, furiously passionate in everything she does. And Rei, quieter and calmer, always smiling, wanting to be cuddled constantly and kissed to sleep, content to observe and enjoy the action without being a direct participant. My husband calls them 'the clown and the chronicler', and that's how it feels at the moment: there's a natural balance there, a shared need and appreciation that seems to be growing between them, as if they're two sides of the same coin.
Obviously the end result may be that these early roles reverse completely, or that their characters fire off into any one of a thousand unexpected directions. But I have a feeling they'll always be different, always be close, and always be each other's biggest fans. Just like me and my sister. Here's hoping.