No More the Shadow Child

I’ve been checkin’ out all the blog posts about Shadows for BlogFEST2012 and several of them are really dark and creepy. My approach is rather different. I want to tell you a story about one of the happiest days of my life.

My parents have two children — me and my sister.

In addition to being two years older than me, my sister is physically bigger — taller and broader.

I’m the creative one in the family — the writer and choral singer, the greeting card maker and motorcycle rider.  She’s the brainiac. She excelled in science and math and ultimately she went to medical school and became a doctor.

When she was looking into higher education, I heard school names such as “Harvard” bandied about. I wasn’t inclined to go to graduate school (and didn’t). Indeed there was a fleeting moment when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college.

When we were young, we went to the same elementary school and the same high school. Going to high school was especially hard for me, because we were both in a science/math-oriented program and so we had many of the same teachers. Inevitably, when the teachers were taking attendance and they came to me, they’d ask some version of, “Are you related to Naomi?”

I’d sigh, roll my eyes, think to myself, “Here we go again,” and weigh lying against what the truth would get me, all the while nodding my head. Yes, I am Naomi’s little/younger/baby/call-me-what-you-will sister … .

The truth never set me free. Often I was measured against her, incurring sympathetic looks of disappointment when I didn’t measure up. It wasn’t easy going through life that way.

The one thing that set me apart from her was that I was an athlete in school. She was a mathlete … . I made swim team one of my main focuses in those years, including selecting most of my friends from among the team members — boys and girls. That made school much more of my place, but there were always reminders of my sister’s earlier presence.

Finally I graduated. A few months later, I experienced one of the happiest days of my life. I went to college where I was just Daphne.  Over the years I would come to be known in various capacities — Daphne, the lifeguard; Daphne, the
co-ed fraternity member; Daphne, the roving reporter for the student newspaper. But never once, was I Naomi’s relative, sister or anything else.

The day I started college, I became just me.

At long last, I was no longer living in the shadows.

Leave a comment


  1. I am glad you are no longer living in her shadows!

  2. I understand! I am child #3 and was often Pat’s sister, Mike’s sister or because my mom worked at one of the schools, Dorothy’s daughter. I can’t really say it bothered me, I felt kind of special because my family was well liked and knowing I was one of them, was a good thing for me.

    I don’t think I ever felt like I lived in the shadow of anyone. I was always the sunshine girl!

  3. Being the oldest child– I didn’t have to deal with this–and thankfully so. My younger brother took a much different track than I did and we didn’t run the same circle of friends and rarely did he get the same teachers I did…couple that with the fact we moved–a lot– so he didn’t have to live in my shadow.

    However college was freeing in a completely different way for me–it is hard to explain.

    I enjoyed your take on this theme!

    Cheers, Jenn.

  4. This is just plain awesome and an angle I didn’t even think of!! I grew up in the shadow of my sister at least as far as my Dad was concerned. It always seemed that way. Then he had a stroke, and while he was in the hospital before he died we finally worked through that issue. He never realized that I ever felt that way and said he was sorry and that he had always loved me and was proud of me.



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