Living With Brothers

I never wished for sisters. It’s not something I really thought about. Maybe that’s how we all are. We only know what we know and don’t know anything else. I played with dolls. I wore dresses with ribbons and flowers. I was mostly a normal girl. The main difference that I noticed growing up with brothers was that there was no codling. Moms do that sort of thing, cushion you. Brothers don’t. Brothers roughhouse. They wrestle. We fed the animals. I tried to help them work on cars.


My brothers taught me take up for myself. They taught me how to be an individual. I learned to change my bike tire and how to fix a flat. I learned from watching my oldest brother that manners were important, things like saying, thank you and please were expected. I learned from my middle brother that it’s okay sometimes to do things for yourself if you need to, because people won’t always do it the way you want, or won’t always listen to you. I learned to be who you are even in the face of resistance.

I did wish at times I could live closer to my cousins. I missed the times we all got together and played hide and seek in the trees in front of their house. Late at night, when the lightning bugs were out and the grownups drank their coffee, it all seemed magical. We played for hours. During the day we’d play basketball or go fishing in the pond. Here’s an excerpt from a book I’m reading.

Thinking we had to talk to connect, I asked her if she’d rather swim in a pool, a lake, or the ocean. Betsy sat up, dangled her feet off the dock, and said she’d rather swim in the ocean. She grew up going to Florida with her cousins and they’d spend the entire day playing in the waves, poking jellyfish with sticks and eating peanutbutter-and-jelly sandwiches with sand in them. She and her cousins would lie in bed at night and giggle because they could feel their bodies lifting and falling as though they were still in the waves. Those were some of the greatest days of her life. She asked whether I would rather swim in a pool, a lake, or the ocean. I said I’d rather swim in a lake. “Why?” she asked. I said in a lake you didn’t have to deal with the jellyfish and the seaweed and the sharks and whatever else. Betsy thought about that for a moment then reminded me that trying not to get stung by a jellyfish was part of the adventure. Betsy ran her fingers through my hair and kissed me on the forehead. I told her I’d put some jellyfish in the pond if she wanted me to. “It’s worth it to get stung by a jellyfish every once in a while,” Betsy said. “For the occasional sting, you get to go to sleep feeling the waves and you get to giggle with your cousins.” – Scary Close by Donald Miller

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy


  1. Interesting! I think I’m jealous (and a little teary).

    I was the oldest of 5 – stair steps – one sister and 3 brothers. I was “parentified” at an extremely early age, since I was unusually mature for my age and my mother truly needed the help, moving yearly as we did for the most part. I was 11 when my parents left me in charge for a weekend for the first time. Even when my youngest sibling was was 11, I was expected to cancel plans to “babysit.”

    As a result, I never had the sibling relationship that others report- even with my sister (who was 5 years younger). She competed with me whenever possible, writing love letters to my boyfriends, for example — even tho’ I didn’t take it seriously or compete back (I mean, when you are 16 and your sister is 11, who competes, right? Ditto once you are off to college and she is in the 8th grade).

    She told me years later that she resented me when I still lived at my parent’s home, even though my additional responsibility came with NO additional privileges beyond being allowed to go to more school dances and events, because they HAD more school dances and events.

    We healed our relationship before she died and actually became close, but I didn’t really have one with her for very long, compared to a lifetime. Cancer took her relatively young.

    My brothers taught me by osmosis about the differences in the sexes – frogs, fights, snails, snakes and smelly sneakers! But we were never really close – by ANY stretch of the imagination. I never really knew my 3 cousins or their parents.

    Count your blessings.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


    • Oh my gosh girl. All of those younger ones. You must have felt like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. No wonder you didn’t know what enjoy. It is a different world, and so I have been told by brother and all in good nature of course. I wish I were close to your place, because we could go find a dance to go dress up and go to. Because it’s time for you to have some fun. No more babysitting. – Hey check out my next Sunday’s post on 05/24/2015. I think you’ll like it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not really – at least not at the time. I resented the lack of additional privileges, of course, but the additional responsibility was simply the way it always was. Only much later did I realize that it was not the most balanced way to grow up.

        I wish we lived closer too! And I LOVE to dance – about the only time my mind stops nattering at me!

        Liked by 1 person

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