Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I come from a family of four siblings — one older sister, one younger sister and a brother (the youngest.)

My sisters and I are there for each other — always.

We are also there for our mother — bound by love, respect and concern.

There seems to be some invisible line of connection that extends from my mother to each of her daughters. This line then intertwines the daughters in a binding sort of guilt.

(Mothers + Guilt = A Fact of Life.) My mother, whether conscious of it or not, plays upon the guilt of her daughters. (No details here — you either “get” what I’m talking about or you have a different sort of relationship with your mother. Lucky you.)

Somehow, my brother cut through this line at an early age. We (the sisters) occasionally attempt to reel him in (i.e. for our mother’s 80th birthday).

It does not matter what my brother does — or does not do — he is The Golden Boy. This causes much consternation (and fury) amongst the sisters.

The fact that we (“the girls”) are adults and have lived with this our entire lives has not diminished the negative impact of our brother’s cherished status within the family.

Yes, we all possess our mother’s love. However, my brother not only has her love, he also has her 100% approval and support despite occasionally displaying (hmm…how shall I put this?) inappropriate or simply not very nice behaviour. He can do no wrong.

Is this because he is male? The youngest? Lives furthest away? Who knows.

We should be used to this by now. We should simply grow up and accept this reality. But I don’t think one ever “grows up” in terms of a parent’s love and attention.

I have learned one important lesson from these family dynamics. The favouring of one child leads to resentment and strained relationships amongst siblings.

My boys are equally perfect and precious in my eyes. Each of them has my unqualified love. And that’s how it should be.


Megan said...

You are too kind - to get a real picture of our brother's self-centeredness, you should have mentioned that he has bled our mother dry financially, and we are left to finance her future - not that she doesn't deserve our support and gratitude, it's just rather tragic that he felt it his due to take, take and take from her his whole life.
Let's be grateful that we have learned the value of loving our children equally - my 'Moron #1' and 'Moron #2' know their Mom's love is forever, and they can't find a louder cheerleader.
So what if we learned the hard way - we learned, and we benefited. And we will always take care of Mom, simply because that is who we are. Hurray for sisterhood!

Attila The Mom said...

Oh gurk!

I've got an older brother like that as well, who is currently living with our mother, sucking the life out of her. No job for 8 months, recent DUI, can't even manage to keep his own space clean. But that's ok, he has a disease!

Yeah, but it's not the one she thinks it is---alcoholism. The disease he's afflicted with is called entitlement. Or lazy assitis.

And oddly enough (or not so oddly), some of that Golden Boy crap has followed me into adulthood.

I dislike strawberries. They're actually pretty good and my guys love them, but the whole "I'm buying these for x because they're his favorite" has never gone away.

I can't watch The Pink Panther. Every saturday morning, no matter what the rest of the family was watching, we had to change the channel because "this is x's favorite".

And Led Zepplin? argh! Can't listen to any of it. Hours upon hours and days upon days of my air, space and hearing being invaded by Zep and a drumset. "Need to get homework done? Want to read? Too bad! Go to the park! X is practicing!"

Grrrr. I need an hour on a couch somewhere. ;-)

Beth said...

megan: Agree - Hurray for Sisterhood!
And, yeah, we've learned and benefited. BTW, your "Morons" are precious to me as well.
(Holy crap - good thing mom and the brother don't read this blog.)

Beth said...

attila: Hit a nerve there, didn't I? "We" hear you. (My sister read your comment too.) I'm thinking it's impossible for any of us to "get over" something like this because it just goes on and on...
(And if I'd known about your Led Zepplin thing...my poem...sorry for the reminder...)

Dorky Dad said...

Speaking as a brother of three sisters -- no, Beth, I'm not your brother -- I can say that it's common for mothers to dote on sons in this manner, but not entirely comment. In my family my younger sister received that sort of treatment.

Anonymous said...

There is always one in a family isn't there? I have a younger brother..........

msp said...

"is this because he is male? the youngest? lives further away?" NO - it's because he is the last link to our father- A SON -to carry on the name.
Altogether, we have 9 Morons - all better children than he ever was or ever will be.

Beth said...

dorky dad: Glad we got it cleared up that you're not my brother...although I think having you as a brother would be fun.
And interesting to hear that it occurs with sisters as well.

trish: Re: your younger brother. Let me guess...he's "Golden!"

msp: And we're not links?? What's in a name?
(Gee, I've managed to make both sisters go public with their frustration.)

Beth said...

darn right. that's how it should be.

I go through the same thing...my brother is The Chosen One, and I am the leftovers...but who is there, taking care of my mother? He hasn't had anything to do with our mother for YEARS, but he's all I hear about, still. I am the only one who writes our father and talks to him, but my brother is still King. I don't want to be King...I want to be noticed.

Beth said...

beth: I like the terms you use - The Chosen One and the Leftovers. Sums it up very well.
And while we might not be "noticed" or acknowledged by our parents as much as the Chosen Ones are, I think we benefit from what we've learned. We don't behave like that with our own children - therefore lots of "good" loving happening in our homes.