Sibling Rivalry

9 Aug

Mom, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for the time I knocked two of  my little brother’s teeth out with the back of my skull even though he had my arms pinned behind my back and wouldn’t let me go.

And remember when he flushed my favorite washcloth down the toilet and I screamed and cried for days?  Even thought it was just a washcloth? Yeah.  Sorry.

For all the times I waited for him to do something bad just so I could tattle to you and get him in trouble.

And for the multitude of moments when you just wanted us to play nicely together so you could drink your tea in peace but that were inevitably punctuated by screaming.

I wish I could say it was all his fault, but I know better now.  And I’m so, so sorry.

This sibling rivalry nonsense?  Totally sucks from my new perspective.

I hear it’s normal and that I’m not doing anything wrong as a parent, but my god do these girls ever drive each other and me to tears.  They are almost 5 and 2, certainly more than the 4 and 1 their birth years would suggest.

Now, I know they adore each another.  The first person that Doodlebug wants to see in the morning is her baby sister.  She looks forward to the moment when Bean’s face will light up and they both grin silly smiles reserved just for sister.  Doodlebug’s mere presence in an unfamiliar environment is enough to fill Bean with sufficient courage and confidence to tear herself away from my arms to explore.  And noone has more adorable nicknames for the baby than her big sister.  They crack each other up and inspire a creativity that I couldn’t begin to understand.

So why are they constantly at each other’s throats?  Toy grabbing.  Screaming matches.  Shutting doors on little sisters.  Throwing toys at big sisters. Crying about toys “I was thinking about playing with but then she played with it and she’s never going to be done playing with it and IT’S NOT FAAAAAIR.”

It’s a passive agressive war for family dominance and I’m the one caught in the crossfire.

And though it’s truly exasperating, I’m trying to reframe it in a positive light.  Our home and family is the one place where both girls feel safe enough to experiment socially.  The can try things out, knowing the safety net of family love will catch them. And like lion cubs, they are testing their strength on one another.

So. Their sibling rivalry is important to their social development.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.


3 Responses to “Sibling Rivalry”

  1. Jen August 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    I’m sending you virtual hugs and support. My two are the same way. The fights currently surround what utensils, cups and plates they can have. I now count up grapes to make sure that they get an equal share. Sigh. We’ll make it through, right? Our parents did.

  2. Atlanta Mom August 14, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    I hope we’ll make it through because honestly most days I don’t think I will. I question having had more than one, my capacity to cope, and my mothering, despite friends and professionals affirm how “good” of a mom I am. I had no idea how horrible sibling fighting could be, particularly for someone with anxiety…and maybe that’s a good thing because if I knew I might have…
    Thank you for sharing. Just knowing I am not alone in mothering kids who hit, and don’t share, and slam doors helps.

    • learnedhappiness August 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      You definitely aren’t alone. It is a huge source of anxiety and stress for me, too. It’s the reason my DH comes home to a frazzled wife and “lots of yelling” as he puts it. My brother and I fought like this and it worries me because he and I are not close at all. We barely send birthday cards. (((hugs)))

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