I spent some quality time last week with my sister and three of her four children in Florida. We don't see each other very often because we live far away from each other and, to be honest, we just don't make an effort to see one another enough. I like to spend time with my sister though, she is the only one I have, and there is a special bond between us that can never be broken. Maybe it is because we are only eighteen months apart and growing up we played together all the time or maybe it is because we are just like every other set of close sisters; very much alike in many ways. On the way home on the plane I kept thinking of the old French proverb, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, " or "the more that things change, the more they stay the same." This is how I think about my relationship with my sister.
We have taken different paths in our life. My sister had her first child when she was twenty six years old. She was ready. It had been her dream since we were young playing our childhood game of "Maize and Nance" to be a mother. "Maize and Nance" went to high school in their hip huggers, went to college and kissed boys and eventually sat around the play kitchen "smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee" while chatting about their children, dogs and husbands. She had been thinking about being a mother for years. She has four children, the eldest being twenty one and the youngest eleven. She stayed home with her children for many years and then decided to become a teacher. Now she teaches third grade.
I on the other hand was stuck in "Maize and Nance's" after college phase for a number of years. I wanted a career and felt that I needed to establish myself professionally before I entered into motherhood. So I worked and pursued my masters and waited for the right moment to have my children. Well, the best laid plans don't always turn out the way you hope. After four years of infertility treatments and thousands of dollars, I finally had my first child at the age of thirty six. Having waited for this moment for so long, I gave up my career to stay home with my baby.
So here we were at the beach and I thought about the flip flop our lives had taken. She is working and planning to pursue her masters and I am home with my young children. We never seem to be doing the same thing in our lives at the same time. What do we have in common anymore? Truthfully everything. We always seem to show up with the same outfit on or the same shoes. We worry about the same things; our children, the economy and cancer. We get mad at our husbands about the same things and comment often that we really married the same man. The kicker is that we each have a redhead daughter with a very strong will. They seem to have inherited our telepathy for fashion because they even picked out the same exact bathing suit even though they live hundreds of miles away. When they are together I see the special bond forming between them too.
Inevitably, my sister and I sit down over a bottle of wine and start remembering our youth. We tell "Maize and Nance" stories and laugh about my white plastic go-go boots(that is another story in and of itself). We talk about the disruptions that occurred in our young lives as we moved from Chicago to Australia, back to Chicago and then to Atlanta all within a three year period. We remember how we vowed we would never do the same thing to our children as we admit that both of us have done just that within the last five years. Ultimately, we run out of words and put ourselves to bed.
With that our week at the beach came to an end and all that I can think is that the more that things change the more they stay the same.