My parents died more than a decade ago, when I was 25. I moved home and helped raised my younger siblings (ages 11 to 17). I stayed until my youngest brother got accepted into college and made sure that the life insurance money went toward their schooling. None of my siblings had to worry about loans the way I did. I gave up a lot: my fiancée, getting my Ph.D., going to live overseas, etc. I didn’t even get to grieve for my parents because I was busy trying to be them. I wasn’t perfect, and I made mistakes, but I did my best.
“Stella” and “Leanne” are older than I was when our parents died, but they still act like teenagers. We argue all the time, and they whip out “If Mom and Dad were alive ... ” and “You aren’t Mom,” and it kills me. Stella hasn’t finished school but still feels I should get no say in her education (although she thinks I owe her the money, despite her wasting what our parents left), and Leanne continues to date a man who stole and wrecked her car (but I am the bad guy because I won’t sign a loan so she can get a new one). I don’t have any problems with my younger brothers, who were in middle school when our parents died. How do I stop being the mom and start being the sister? I cycle through guilt and grief and anger, and I am so exhausted.
–When Do I Get to Stop Being the Parent?