Sibling Rivalry: "No, I'M Santa Clause!"
Thursday, December 25, 2008
So, as I blogged to you yesterday, my brother and I have had a difficult path in the relationship department, and I think it's because we are very different people. He was jock, I was scholar. He stayed home to work in the family business, and I left home. He liked to get into trouble in college, and I was a goody-goody who followed the rules.
Yet ... opposites are supposed to attract, right? So we should be the best of friends, right? Why, then, are we so combative? I think I've got this figured out now.
1. We both are arrogant and STRONG in our delivery of an opinion, as if we were attorneys representing God and the Devil in court.
2. It is difficult to gauge who has been the most successful in life because our lives are so different; comparing the high points of our lives would be like comparing apples to porcupines. Therefore, we unconsciously jockey all the time for dominance in our quest to show Dad who is the BEST SON!!
It would be presumptuous of me to talk of his jealousies, but I can certainly say that I am jealous of his intimate relationship with my dad. (Throughout the holiday they smoked cigars together and shared whispers and knowing looks. I realize I can't expect to share that intimacy because I'm no longer part of the family business.)
I also envy how laid-back my brother is; he knows how to have fun while I tend to be uptight and worrisome. He's the nice guy (though with a hot head at times) whom everyone in town loves ... the type of person who gets phone calls on Christmas day from his mentally handicapped friends he has "adopted" over the years. He's got a big heart, in general. Unfortunately, the sibling rivalry between us makes it unlikely for him to share it with me.
We have raised our daughters in very different households ... ours in an East Coast manner and his in a Wild West (eastern Colorado) manner. (You fill in the blanks here.)... And I don't know about him, but I'll admit here that I've always felt competitive with him in the parenting arena because I felt he was always judging me for raising our daughter in a different way. But now that the girls are older (a college freshman and high-school senior) we can see that they both have blossomed into very different but nonetheless remarkable young women ... and now we can tell ourselves, "Well, I guess he did okay after all ... I guess my way wasn't better ... just DIFFERENT."
While together this week, we all watched Fred Clause, a movie starring Vince Vaughan about Santa and his real-life brother, who lived a messed-up life because he'd grown up in his brother's very-large shadow. It got me thinking. Don't we all feel as if we're living in someone's shadow? And doesn't that fuel our competitive nature and rivalries? And who between the two of us -- John or I -- would play the Santa character in the movie? Now in my 40s, I can say I'm not sure how to answer that anymore. And that's why I look forward to a long, wonderful friendship with my brother, as we mellow into middle-age men.
So: I'm going to show vulnerability here and say this loud and clear: I love you, John. I had a great time this Christmas. And guess what? Mom likes me BEST!!!!!