52 Weeks of Brotherhood: When It’s Hard to Be a Brother (or a Parent)

When It's Hard to Be a Brother
Sometimes they even fight over the dog, you guys.

I’ve written my internal angst regarding the end of summer break.

It’s true: I like having unfettered access to my kids. The rub, however, is that these two boys get tired of constant access to one another as the summer stretches its way through the calendar. To boot, they took turns the entire summer sleeping in each others’ rooms. One night BigBrother’s, the next night LittleBrother’s, and repeat.

You know, save for traveling when they’d share a bed or, at times, a room.

To say each brother felt tired with the other brother classifies as a severe understatement.

Sometimes they acted downright resentful about the presence of their brother. The arguments seemed so plentiful, if they were tomatoes in my garden, I could have made enough sauce to last us two summers of tomatoes. About everything. About nothing. About anything.

Even if one brother felt his words or actions were of the helpful kind, the other brother was already on the defensive, unable to receive anything, let alone kindness.

They were in bad shape.

And us, as the parents? Well, we wore out. We hit a level of exhaustion that can only be defined as Out of Mmmphs to Give. Straight outta Mmmphs. Or, you know, whatever other word you wanna insert there, because all of ’em.

After my husband laid down the law in a not-quite-yell but louder-than-daddy-usually-talks over dinner two nights before school started, they both came to me later with sad little faces. Morose even. Because Daddy doesn’t yell, even less than Mommy. So they knew the jig was up.

I went on to explain that Daddy needed to say what he said because, glory be, sons, we’re tired. Exhausted. I used all those words, even glory be, which probably confused them, but I didn’t want to say what I was thinking in that moment of calm explanation. Their sad eyes got a bit bigger, a bit sadder. I didn’t berate either of them, didn’t point fingers, but they don’t like to upset us. Yet. I mean, they’re not teenagers. Yet.


And so yesterday rolled around, and the back-to-school morning went splendidly, and I did the stupid thing and wrote about how splendidly it went.

So then this morning, as we attempted to get out the door at the required time and the boys started to argue because one brother dared to help the other brother with a knot in his shoe, I straight up lost it. I yelled. You think there were sad eyes the other day when Daddy simply stated that this nonsense needed to stop, here and now, immediately? Pfft.

There’s a reason I try not to yell. And it’s because I can yell.

The arguing ceased. Sniffles commenced. And I felt like a jagoff. A jagoff who wasn’t yet caffeinated on the second day of school because the FLIPPIN’ COFFEE POT WOULDN’T MAKE ANY FLIPPIN’ COFFEE.


So I took four deep breaths before I poured myself into the driver’s seat of the car and began apologizing before I even backed out of the garage. BigBrother took it personally, mainly because LittleBrother did what he’s now prone to do and kind of blamed everything on his older brother. Because naturally. And again, I explained how tired we feel that they can’t stop fighting.

And instead of apologizing to me?

They apologized to each other. And then made plans for what they were going to do after school.

So then I felt like a bigger jagoff.

They happily talked the rest of the way to school, and I can report, with over an hour home since school, they haven’t argued once despite wanting to play with the same toy. They’re taking turns with a friend over. Well huh.

I need to remember that siblings will fight, summer break will end, and this phase, whatever it is, will pass. Until then, I’ll just be over here, taking four deep breaths, over and over again, because I’m probably supposed to model the behavior I want my children to display.

I don’t know which is harder: Parenting or brotherhood. Oh wait. Yes, I do.


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3 Replies to “52 Weeks of Brotherhood: When It’s Hard to Be a Brother (or a Parent)”

  1. Argh, so frustrating. Try not to feel too much like a jagoff. I hate yelling because I know I carry the lung capacity, so I hear you loud and clear, but sometimes, the kiddos need a “woah, mom is MAD” wake-up call back to reality. I was watching Bones last night and Sweets, the therapist, was telling Booth: “It’s okay to get angry at your son. You should sometimes, it’s necessary and healthy.” You know this already, but the occasional reminder is nice. Sending a huge mug of coffee your way.

    1. I logically know this, but I hold a lot/too much on/against yelling/not yelling. I should probably work on that a little more. Something for therapy this week!

  2. Ohhhhh, the yelling. Yelling is my biggest weak point as a parent. I have a temper. And I do really well not yelling until all of a sudden something snaps and I catch myself mid-yell. The good thing is that I’m really good at apologizing to my kids and explain that even moms (and dads) are human and make mistakes. And a weird thing happened because of all that – the girls are great at apologizing, too. And wiping the slate clean afterwards. Not all the time, but most. I’d still rather I was better at not yelling. But I’ll take my upsides where I can get them!

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