All Hell Breaks Loose
Clare and I were rolling around with our fat cat Marilyn Monroe on the bed I’ve been inhabiting with the flu for the last two days when Bridget came in to join us.
Clare, “No, no! You may not come in! I am having my Mommy Time and you’re ruining it!”
Bridget ignored her and came in anyway.
The tsunami struck. Accusations of Mommy Hogging flew. I tried to diverticulate. (I think what I really mean is “mediate,” diverticulum are found in the bowel, it’s just such a good root word).
My mediation only made things worse.
“You’re sticking up for Bridget as usual.”
“No, honey, she really can be a pain in the butt … oh no … I mean …”
My attempts to vanquish the Jealousy Gods sent both girls running to their separate bedrooms sobbing, leaving me sitting, soggy-nosed, in the middle of my bed wondering how everything went straight down to Chinatown so fast?
Would they like each other more if one was a girl and the other a boy?
Or if they weren’t just 22-months apart? Or if their dad and I were boozing and brawling so they had to unite against common enemies? Or if I could find the exact right thing to say at the right moment that would make them both feel uniquely, profoundly loved?
Are my expectations too high?
I’ve had my share of sibling rivalry. There was that time when I was in college and my parents took my younger sister and brother to Hawaii, but didn’t take me.
Oh yes you did, Mom and Dad! You know you did!
Scarred for life, I was. Never the same after that. Yes, I know college tuition was expensive, but bonding is priceless! Will you buy me a car to make it right?? I know I’m 4o-something and should buy my own car, but not going on that trip to Hawaii halted the maturation process. I’m still really 18.
My siblings were the first people I compared myself to.
For years I was a cauldron of jealousy toward my younger sister. She got breasts first. Married first. She had kids first. Got a Law degree with honors while raising four children and she had/has a knockout smile.
Then there’s my brother and his over-the-top, show-offy degree in Engineering.
If you held white hot flames under my bare feet I couldn’t begin to do the math for that (although the hard hats would probably flatter me).
My brother was also eight-years younger and got to go on all of the European trips with our parents that my sister and I didn’t get to go on. (You can see there’s a Bitter Travel leitmotif throughout this piece).
But I don’t remember measuring my happiness against my siblings as incessantly as my children seem to do.
If we give them the same things, I’m told the things lose their importance.
If we don’t give them the same things, we’re favoring one child over the other.
THERE IS NO WINNING! And like Nacho Libre — I want to ween!
They do play together. And I know they actually do love each other, but the constant competing. Oy! (I’m not even Jewish) My patience runneth low. I’m tempted to throw them both over for a particularly jovial second grade boy in Bridget’s class named Mateen. He always smiles and has eyelashes he could use to fly to Cabo if he’d just bat their long, lustrous length fast enough.