When I was a little kid, I hated that I didn’t have a sister. My first brother was born when I was two and the next when I was three. That was OK, but when my mom got pregnant a fourth time when I was six, I knew it was my time. My sister was coming and it was going to be magical. And then, there he was in all of his glory, brother number three. I was so pissed I refused to sleep at home in my bedroom, where they had the nerve to put his crib, so I stayed with my grandmother for a couple of weeks. But as I grew older, I realized how lucky I really am.
At first, I liked having brothers because I didn’t have to share my things. I ended up with my own room, my own clothes, my own toys. My brothers weren’t interested in that stuff, so I got to be selfish. But that was only skin deep. I really liked growing up with brothers because they had no expectations of how I should act or what I should be; they didn’t care, they let me be myself. There is no false pretense with them. They accepted me for my bossy, loud, and independent self, and I love that.
Growing up only six years apart, top to bottom, meant that we were together all the time. There wasn’t some older teenager that could escape the group. It was all for one. And it was fun. I rooted them on at basketball games and they sat patiently watching all of my plays. We were raised to lift one another up and to be best friends. People often remarked at how well we got along and my mom would say, “They really like each other.” And we did. It didn’t matter that there were three of them and one of me. We were a unit of four and we stuck together.
I didn’t have a sister to talk about getting my period with, or learning how to shave my legs. My brothers didn’t care about that stuff. But I really don’t think I missed out on not having a girl to talk to; that’s what my mom and friends were for. My brothers wanted to play Nintendo with me or watch TGIF. Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, we were sitcom and movie fans who watched all of the classics together. My brothers carefully memorized dialogue and can have full conversations with each other speaking only in movie quotes from a lifetime’s worth of memories — it’s incredible. Those memories make me smile. I’d give anything for one more chance to stay up all night watching “Back to the Future” or “Vacation.” My brothers made those nights the best!
When it came to dating, I wasn’t big about bringing boys home. But there were plenty of girls who came through over the years, and I had secret nicknames for all of them. Perhaps it was unfair, but my brothers were my very best friends and I only wanted perfection for them. Some of these girls just didn’t make the cut, and I have no regrets about anything I said or did. They are all grown up now with lovely families and I’d like to think I helped them avoid catastrophe.
My three brothers helped me to have an understanding of men that I don’t think I would have had with sisters. I watched hygiene habits, work ethic, and the ungodly amount of food that they can consume in a day. But I also learned of their tenderness, their sweet love for our mother, and their protectiveness. They taught me to defend myself and to never take shit from anyone, because I am better than that. They always looked out for me, even though I was older. It was comforting.
Having brothers is amazing, because they make me laugh. They are funny — not just a little funny, but the gut-busting laughter that makes you feel sick to your stomach funny. And they help me make fun of myself. I’ll admit, I can be a tad uptight. I take things too seriously. I get angry. But when I am around them, they can point that out in a way that makes me laugh. They can say, “get over yourself, you’re not that important,” and I listen. More often than not I need to chill out, and they can get me to do that better than anyone.
I have three sons of my own and one daughter. I am so happy for her that she will know the kind of love that only a brother can give. They will be her protectors, while also being friends and confidants. They will teach her to defend herself and how to never give up in an argument. She will know what she wants in a partner by having the best examples of unconditional love. And she will know how important a sense of humor is, because no one will ever make her laugh as hard as those three boys.
I am a sister to three brothers and a mother to three sons, and while I do not claim to be an expert on anything to do with men, I will say how grateful I am to have them in my life. Brothers are special. They have given me the chance to look at life through a completely different lens. I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for the love of my three brothers. I may have wanted a sister, but that’s not what I needed. It was my lot in life to be surrounded by the good guys, and I am 100 percent the luckiest girl out there.