Mama Madison: Brothers

Differences make a special relationship

I don't think much -- game or otherwise -- from last weekend's Super Bowl will stick with me for too long. The commercials, usually this former ad gal's favorite part, felt uninspired. And the first half of play struck this non-football aficionado as fairly boring. To be honest, I pretty much tuned out halfway through the blackout. Beyoncé was kind of fun, I guess, and the chili my son made was outstanding. They were only things that seemed to add much spice to an otherwise routine Sunday night with the kids.

But every time the camera panned over one of the two Harbaugh brothers, I was reminded that for their parents, Jack and Jackie, this was probably the least routine night of their lives. They were there to watch their two sons, born just 15 months apart, battle it out on professional sports' biggest stage. They must have experienced what could only be described as emotional schizophrenia that night, knowing that come the game's end ,one of their children would have reached the pinnacle of his career and would likely have Gatorade poured over his head.

And that their other son would have one of his worst nights ever.

This same situation will absolutely unequivocally never happen to me. First, and perhaps foremost, neither of my sons plays football, or any sport at all anymore. But even when they did, they were rarely interested in the same sport at the same time. They also don't readily agree on what television shows to watch or what movie to stream on Netflix. They can rarely, without extreme parental interference, reach détente on what to order as a pizza topping.

My sons don't resemble each other physically. And they are completely on the opposite ends of the spectrum from a temperament standpoint. Teachers that have had both in class are usually surprised to find out, despite sharing a last name (and the same parents), that they are actually related.

But I think in many ways it is precisely these differences that have helped to cement their relationship for the long haul. Sure, they may argue over control of the TV remote and the merits of pepperoni vs. sausage. But they've never had to feel the pain over being labeled the slower brother on the soccer field, or the brother who is less talented on the violin. They've found their own niches and are, for the most part, content following their own paths.

And when my oldest, completely enamored by the world of competitive Latin (yes, it's a thing), tries to persuade his younger brother to give declining nouns a try when he gets to high school, I stay quiet. But I kind of hope my youngest son doesn't feel the need to follow in his older brother's gladiator sandal-clad footsteps.

And besides, who says you can't receive a Gatorade bath when you discover a dead language of your own to resurrect? I am sure his big brother would be more than happy to do the pouring.

Although I know, given their proclivity towards differences, they'd just argue over what flavor it should be.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.

Operation Fresh Start's Youth Conservation Corps helps kids, and kids help parks

Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.

Mama Madison: Summer stress solved by yoga

The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.

Mama Madison: The greatest fans of road repair

Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.

Mama Madison: The alarm sounds

As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.

Mama Madison: My summer book list

For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.

Make Music Madison gives young artists a chance to perform

The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.

Mama Madison: Watching talent grow

Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.

Mama Madison: Writing time at Olbrich

If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.

Mama Madison: When UW-Madison's semester is over, the kids want out too

There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.

Mama Madison: Another amazing talent show

My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.

Mama Madison: Preserving children's stories

My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.


Emails from Isthmus Parents feature event highlights, story links, site updates, and occasional special offers from trusted sources. Name and email address are required. Thanks!