What I want you to know about being the oldest. I’m 3-1/2 years older than my brother. I’m the oldest. I spent my childhood excelling at school, trying to set a good example for my brother. By the time I was in middle school, Mom was telling me to watch my brother, take care of my brother. Through junior and senior high, I tried to blaze the trail so my brother had an easier road. I graduated from high school with honors, went on to a university and did well. My brother graduated from high school the same weekend I graduated from college, and I skipped my ceremony to be back in my hometown to cheer my brother on. He was on the road to a 2-year school specializing in video technology, which he was interested in. He wasn’t a 4-year college type of person, which is cool.
He graduated, returned home with no job prospects. I hooked him up with several local agencies who worked with me in my marketing role. My brother would work for one agency, then decide he didn’t like working weird hours and quit. I set him up with several agencies, then hired him as a contractor for several projects with my company. Yet he would work for a bit, then decide it wasn’t for him. Working 40 hours a week wasn’t for him. He didn’t have the drive I had to excel, and it hurt me that I’d set him up for success and he’s blow it off.
Over the years, he’s lived with me on a off several times. The first time, he crashed in my guest room for months, where he conceived my nephew, arguing with his girlfriend daily. My brother bounced from job to job, industry to industry. Had two kids, two failed marriages. All along I felt I failed him. I tried to set the example of a functioning adult, supporting herself.
Being the oldest has unspoken expectations. My parents ask me if I’ve spoken with my brother and given him advice at least once a week. I don’t want to be his babysitter. I have my own life to figure out. Yet when I hear that he’s moved out of his current home with his girlfriend, I get up and make sure my guest room and sleeping bags are ready for him and my niece and nephew. Because I’m his big sister, and I clean up his mess.