Will My Daughters Ever Love Each Other? (Sibling Rivalry)

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?

(Back in the day – Clare: “I’ll hold her, but I won’t like it!” Bridget: “Hey mom lady, WTH? She’s pinching my toes off!”)

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.

Anyhow, I am open to advice and interventions. I am going to eat two pounds of chocolate …

10 thoughts on “Will My Daughters Ever Love Each Other? (Sibling Rivalry)”

  1. Honey, my kids are a girl and a boy (in that order) and they are 6 years apart. It really doesn’t matter. Even if they were twins, they would do this. Whenever my precious little angels turn on each other, I do a sage smudge. If it doesn’t work on them, it definitely works on me and I just relax.

    Other than that, the only thing that works is duct tape and pantyhose (no rope burns).


  2. There is something about sisters that speaks to the cauldron of jealousy, isn’t there? That pretty much sums up my childhood – and even though we’re in our 30’s, the competitive streak still dominates. As you know, things do get better! And I think so much is personality-related. Which sucks when your personality is jealous and competitive and you’re still trying to get your parents’ attention. 🙂 But you know what? I’d rather have my sister than not. How lonely and dull life would be without all the drama!

  3. Shannon Colleary

    Thanks Chalupa — Now in our 40s my sister and I are so close and over the last couple of years I feel we’ve become each others’ champions. She’s the only human being I’ve had a fist fight with, and she’s also the only human who’s been there with me since the beginning.

    I remember once when we were on a long road trip with our parents and were so sick of the car and didn’t have enough room to lay down in the backseat we negotiated a deal. For ten minutes she would lay on her right side with her head in the middle of the back seat and I would lay on my left side with my head resting on top of hers. Then we would switch. It was oddly comfortable and we fell asleep like that with our heads together. I wouldn’t miss having my sister and I hope eventually my kids’ll feel that way too.

  4. My boys 24 months apart would never be friends in real life because they are very different personalities. But that totally works in family life and they are best friends. They created “brothers day” about 6 years ago when they were 8 and 10. They buy each other presents and I have to provide their dinner and entertainment of choice. Pretty sneaky.

    1. Shannon Colleary

      I am now swallowing cyanide. I am very jealous. I am going to steal the “Brother’s Day” idea and see if I can FORCE my girls into having a sister’s day. Again, I am jealous. But I still like you. Not as much as before, but I still do.

  5. My sister and I are a year and a half apart…we fought constantly growing up and really couldn’t stand each other. From what my mom says it was way more intense than the usual sibling rivalry. When we got to high school we settled into not-quite-enemies-but-not-quite-friends. By the time I was out of college we got along really well and over the past 5 years she has become one of my best friends. We just understand and support each other in a way that nobody else can.

    So there’s hope…you may just have to wait 15 years to see it!

  6. My sister and I were at each other’s throats most of our childhood, but as adults we are often best friends. It helps that we are on opposite coasts!

    Shannon, we are going to the park Halloween fundraiser tomorrow- will you be there? I may be in a slutty red cape.

    XOXO- Girl to Mom.com- Heidi

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