In Which We Pause For a Tantrum

Let me take a minute to indulge in a completely not age-appropriate tantrum.

My sisters (2) were in town this weekend to visit with my parents. They are both mostly lovely people although, in the interest of full disclosure, I am the sort of person who would have been better off as an only child. I’m less close to the one in the middle and see her less often which is to say that I might see her once a year. With my dad’s diagnosis, both sisters have been to visit more frequently which gives my mom a chance to showcase one of her less endearing traits.

She favors my sister. I imagine she’d make no bones about it if I asked her outright, although she would have a list of reasons a mile long, among them that there’s something wrong with me for not recognizing…something. That my sister needs more help than I do? That she has an undisclosed greater life challenge? That she’s disadvantaged in some way? It’s hard to say. I imagine my sister would not like to hear that she’s favored but perhaps thinks she deserves the extra my mom puts out.

Often its money. Despite having had the same opportunities as I’ve had, she makes choices that have left her with less. My mom makes up the difference, not only making the occasional mortgage payment but striving to bring her life to the place that my mother perceives my other sister and I reside.

Let’s be clear. My mother has no idea what financial situation I and my other less-favored sister are in. Because she hangs up the phone or changes the subject the instant the conversation takes a turn for the uncomfortable. She does, apparently, make wild assumptions because my favored sister lives debt free, her children play expensive sports, and she flys here on my parents’ dime. It’s not just money. It’s the way my mother turns the conversation so that my sister is never left out, even when the topic doesn’t concern her. She nags my other sister and I to constantly include her, to welcome her, to help her, to understand her.

At this point, you are probably assuming she needs it, deserves it even, given the overwhelming evidence that I must not be telling you. Let’s remember that my mom isn’t totally sane.

I learned quickly and early that, while this is frustrating, it’s just reality. That doesn’t mean there aren’t occasional moments where I get exasperated. And I do a fair amount of rationalizing why my mother makes these choices. But sometimes? It’s the little things that make we want to shut the door on this ridiculousness (and my sister) altogether. For instance today, upon hearing that Debra (who never, ever gets truly sick) has a stomach virus, my mother gasped (no, seriously) and said, “Well, your sister doesn’t want to be anywhere near that. She’s getting on a plane tomorrow so we really have to think of her.” Not, oh dear, I hope Debra feels better. Not, poor thing can I bring you anything? Not even, I think we’ll stay home instead of coming to supper. Nope. It was, essentially, we need to prioritize keeping your sister germ-free when, and I kid you not, she arrived here on Friday fresh off of a plane and from her home where her son was projectile vomiting. Yes, let’s. Let’s protect my sister.






17 Responses

  1. We are related, we must be. Our mothers and sisters are way too much alike.

  2. HUG. I don’t have a sister, and this is helping to further make the case that Charlotte should just be an only child like I was.

  3. I…. what? WHAT? In what world is this entire set of behavior okay? You know, someone I know here (who has terrible in laws) once said kind of half joking that she was holding a grudge and I told her I thought she was holding a reasonable reaction to years of inappropriate, boundary-pushing, disrespectful behavior.

    In other words, I think this is NOT a tantrum and it’s possible to love/care about your mother AND your sister and still think they’re both being ridiculous.

    (Don’t ask about my relationship with MY sisters, oy.)

  4. I…I could’ve written this myself. It is so painfully obvious that my mom favours my sister (the middle child) and it has hurt me to my core over and over. My mom, however, would deny it until she was blue in the face. But evidence suggests (screams!) otherwise.

    I feel you.

    • I’m so glad I’m not the only one. My mother actually mocks me if I suggest that she might be favoring my sister. Thanks mom. #winning.

  5. Not a tantrum and definitely appropriate!!
    I get you girl, I totes do.
    In my case it’s my brother which in Asian culture equals GOD!
    *hugs* And I hope Debra feels better!!

  6. Not a tantrum at all. This is a “calling it like it is” episode and nothing more. The world needs more of these. At least, I think they do. I could have wrote this. Middle child syndrome large and in charge over here. My younger sister has been coddled and babied her entire life. I was often told it was because she “needed” it more. That somehow I was more mature or whatever and therefore what, needed it less? The end result: When our mother passed away unexpectedly 5 years ago, my sister’s life spiraled out of control. She is yet to regain footing. She has tried therapy, dieting, finding God, becoming a born again Christian and still her life is a damn mess. We have all moved on, for the most part, and still she waits…for someone to take care of her, make her problems disappear, pay the mortgage that is past due by 2 months, and baby her. It all comes full circle. You watch.

    • I was just commiserating with my other sister about how, when my parents both pass, the thing they will leave as inheritance is the house that they own. Which will be very very hard to sell (actually, not sentimentally). We both expect my sister to want to move in and “pay rent” since she won’t be able to buy us out. And by pay rent, I mean, live there forever.

      • This is why a will should have ONE executor.

      • That… sounds like my cousin, who lives in what used to be our grandparent’s house, and pays (an extremely nominal) “rent”. I’m honestly a little worried about what will happen to him when his parents are gone, because he has never had to develop much in the way of life skills. I seriously doubt his brother wants to take care of him, and I know for sure that neither my brother nor I are planning to do it. So…

  7. I don’t think it’s a temper tantrum, I think it sounds like a reasonable assessment of an unreasonable situation. My folks are pretty good at balancing between my brother and I (and I honestly don’t think they have a favorite), but my in-laws… are less so, let’s say.

    They have a favored child (not PB), and then the rest are pretty clearly ranked based on their compliance with the parents’ view of what they should be doing with their lives at any given time. It shifts a little (except Golden Sibling), depending on what’s going on at the moment, but it’s generally not hard to figure out the rankings. Golden Sibling is fairly self-sufficient, maybe more so than it sounds like your sister is, but is still clearly favored. MIL will actually openly admit that Golden Sibling is their favorite, depending on how you ask the question and how much wine she’s had. So yay for honesty? Or something?

    I dunno, it’s kind of crappy to watch in action, even if it’s not directed at you personally. (Although, I am also not the favorite child-in-law.) And don’t get me started on how they see their other (local) grandchildren all the time, but in the year and a half that we have lived less than two-hours drive away, they have visited us a grand total of 1.5 times, the second because we insisted. And how they can’t be bothered to use any kind of video calling with our kids (even though they have multiple devices that are capable, and people around who can, and have, showed them how to use said devices).

    Um. Sorry for going on my own rant there. Short version? You’re not out of line, and you’re not alone, and I’m sorry you’ve got to deal with this crap on top of everything else. *hugs*

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