jessica tholmer
April 18, 2016 11:50 am
Author
Author

I have three brothers, which is something I have said (and written about) probably 100,000 times in my life. I have three brothers and I love each of them uniquely and much more than I love most people on this good ol’ planet. Each of my brothers has made me the person I am today and I know that is the corniest thing to say, but it’s really true. My brothers have shaped how I feel about everything from politics and race, to my taste in music. Without them, I’d be nothin’ but a ball of sadness.

In honor of this brotherly love, I thought I would break from the norm of this column, and prove that I can learn from more than just pop culture. WHO KNEW, RIGHT?

EINTKILF My Brothers

Be strong
Without divulging too much about our childhood, or writing out a sob story (wait for my memoir, y’all), I’ll just say that our lives as kids were never easy. We had a childhood that consisted of a lot of things that other kids didn’t have to worry about, which meant we were either going to sink or swim. Each of my brothers is so strong that sometimes it still floors me. I have heard my whole life that I am a strong person and while I agree, I would not have even half of this strength without my bros. They taught me how to look to the future instead of focusing on the present (when necessary), and they taught me that things get better. They also taught me that being strong isn’t only applicable in bad situations!

Stubbornness is okay
At least two of my three brothers are quite stubborn. Though they have softened a bit in their older age, they have taught me that being stubborn is okay. Being stubborn kind of goes hand in hand with being headstrong and I definitely don’t have a problem with people being headstrong.

Hip-hop is life
If it weren’t for two of my three brothers, namely my oldest one, I would be totally uncool. Now, listen, I am still pretty uncool: I love Glee (YES STILL!), and I am currently listening to a playlist that consists mainly of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez songs, but without my brothers, I would know nothing about anything except pop music. Thanks to my brothers, our living room was always filled with music from Westside Connection, Bone Thugs n’ Harmony, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre. My brothers taste informed my taste, and hip-hop taught me so much about politics, race, and so many other topics that now mean so much to me.

Forgive one another
This applies to not only every single awful fight we got into when we were kids, but also applies to how my family has grown as adults. Father figures are kind of a nonexistent thing in our lives and my mother worked so much and so hard that we had to rely on each other to get through everything — paying bills, making food, going to school or trying to, and handling real serious family business. Though forgiveness was never my go-to solution, through my brothers I have learned that it is necessary to move forward and make things work.

If it weren’t for my big brother (and my lovely, pushy aunt!), I would have never forgiven my father and formed the relationship that we have today. If it weren’t for my middle bro, I would have gone the rest of my life without talking to my aunt and cousins that live a mere five hours from me. Truly amazing things happen when you forgive.

Friends are family
Growing up, we always had a “cool house.” As I mentioned, my mom worked a lot, which means there usually wasn’t a parent home. Though I never took advantage of how cool that might sound to a teenager, my brothers sure did. Their friends were always over, no matter if my mom was home or not, and some of those guys are still people I consider family. My older brother had incredible friendships with guys I had crushes on, and my middle brother had friendships with guys I’d look out for in high school. Guys I wanted to stay in touch with forever, guys who hung out with me and my friends, guys who I love still to this day.

My brothers love my friends just as much. Friends are family to me, and that is definitely something I learned from the way my brothers treated theirs.

Relationships are hard
Speaking of love, each of my brothers has maintained a couple of very significant relationships in their lives. I have always admired and appreciated how my brothers treat women. My brothers, whether they realize it or not, are serial monogamists, which I find entirely sweet. While I definitely take after my mother when it comes to relationships, I am really happy my brothers don’t take after either of my parents in the relationship arena. Relationships are hard, which is a definite “no duh,” but watching my brothers work through their relationships and be mostly successful, is something that constantly gives me hope for myself.

Be there for each other
When I started high school, my older brother’s group of lady friends pulled me aside and told me that they had my back and if anything happened to me at all, to let them know. Now — I was very much not the “fighting in the cafeteria” kind of a kid — but that gesture meant so much. My brothers and I were always all there for one another, in every situation. I always felt protected because I always was. My brothers have never and would never let anything happen to me, even now that I’m a total grownup woman who can definitely take care of herself. But if I lost everything that I have in my life— my friends, my possessions, all of my money (ha! I have no money) — I would be absolutely fine because my brothers would be there for me.

Siblings are great
My whole life, I have heard people voice that they wish they had an older brother like I do. Though I usually make a joke about brothers, I honestly love my big brother so much. He has inspired me in every aspect of my life and I bet he has no idea! My middle brother has walked with me through every single step of our lives — we even had high school classes together! He is still the brother that knows the most about what’s happening in my life; who I am or am not dating, what my weekend plans are, what’s going on at work. My baby brother is a challenge. He is the reason I was born and as crazy as that sounds, I know that to be true. He gives me purpose. He taught me how to be a mother, so if I ever am one, I’ll be absolutely prepared. He taught me how to push myself and how to love openly and fiercely, even when there is push back. And he brought us all together in a new and important way.

Thanks brothers, I’d be nowhere without you.

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