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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 72.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Paper
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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.

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