My brother and I did not have the same upbringing.
Sure, we lived in the same house, had the same parents, went to the same schools and shared a lot of the same toys, but we were surely raised differently.
As the older sibling by a mere 20 months, I was tasked with a lot more household responsibilities, such as washing the dishes or doing laundry, at a much younger age. Since I no longer live at home, my brother is now the one doing the dishes, but he certainly isn’t doing his own laundry; that’s our mother’s job.
I’m not really sure how many other chores he has because whenever I come home from school, my mother asks me to clean his room for him. The kid rarely makes his bed and his floor is littered by a combination of trash and clothes, some dirty and some clean.
The point is not to determine which of us is cleaner or more responsible, but rather the manner in which we were raised.
My brother grew up when he didn’t have to take on certain responsibilities because I was already the one doing them. By the time I left for college, he hadn’t learned how to properly complete the chores that I would no longer be there to do.
For instance, I used to vacuum the house once every one to two weeks, but my brother only learned how to vacuum correctly after I left for college.
He just didn’t feel compelled to do these things because that’s how he grew up, always having someone else there to do it.
Do I blame my parents for it? I can’t say I do. They were busy with their own jobs and taking care of the household on a larger scale.
Honestly, I give society credit for it. For generations, people have been taught that it’s okay to be handed everything and to have things done for you. If it wasn’t slaves, then it was women, and if it wasn’t women, it was parents and older siblings.
In truth, my brother has been handed a lot, but that’s because I had to go through it first for my parents to be okay with it. For instance, I got my license well into my 17th year; my brother was 16 when he got his. I had to wait longer to get something I greatly desired, when he was able to receive it with minimal effort, and that’s not the only example.
Growing up with this impression on life, I viewed it as incredibly unfair, but since then, I’ve realized that I need to just let it go. When more unfair opportunities arise, such as my brother going out with his friends even when his grades aren’t great, I do my best to ignore them, but I’m plagued by all the times that I said no to hanging out with my friends because of a low grade.
Am I jealous of all of the opportunities that my brother has had? Not necessarily. Do I wish I had the same equal opportunities? Of course, but I know my brother has less stressors in his life because I experienced these things first and built a trust with my parents that has enabled him to experience life with greater freedom.
Life is unfair, and some people put forth the least amount of effort possible to succeed. Some people are taught that things are handed by them, if not by one person, then another.
Don’t get me wrong; my brother and I have a healthy relationship and I don’t think that anything will damage our relationship any time soon, but I’m looking forward to the day that he moves to college and learns some self-discipline. Maybe then, he’ll start doing his own laundry too.
C’est la vie.
Molly Sack is a second-year nursing major with a minor in English.