The Middle Child


I’m not really the middle middle child. I am the second of five. But I am the middle daughter, three girls before two brothers.  Looking back over the years, I remember how it felt to not be the oldest, not the youngest, not the first daughter, not the youngest daughter, not the first son (of course!). I was in the middle, not the first, not the last, and this is what happened.

  1. I never had my own bedroom.
  2. I didn’t get to do tap dancing classes when my older sister did (I was five).
  3. I didn’t get to join the junior high school band even though my older sister did (I was twelve).
  4. I didn’t get to have a dog, although my younger brother did when he was eight (I was 13).
  5. I didn’t get to do much of anything that I asked to do. Eventually I stopped asking.

Memories forever burned into my brain:

Easter Sunday, a trip to our grandparents’ house. Four Easter gifts – three marshmallow Peeps bunnies and one chocolate bunny. The girls got the horrible Peeps, the little brother got the chocolate bunny. Younger sister crying, our mother scolding her to accept her gift and to be grateful. I felt the same way but was three years older, so I didn’t cry. I was nine.

A rare mother-daughter luncheon at church.  We three sisters all dressed up.  Somehow I was asked to sit with an old lady, a friend of my grandmother’s. I was borrowed for the day. I did not get to sit with my mother, because she only had room for a daughter on either side. It was confusing. Why me?  I was ten.

A conversation in the basement with my mother. I said I wanted to go to college. My mom asked me how I was going to pay for it. My older sister was going to college. My mom telling me that Grandma was paying for her to go. No explanation as to why that would be for older sister but not for me.  Again, confusing.  I was fifteen.

Realizing that it was all up to me to get what I wanted – college, my own room, a dog, all of it. I had to get out of there and earn it all for myself.

And that is what I did.

They say don’t be a victim. Don’t think like a victim.  I’m not, and I don’t. But looking back, these things are forever burned into my brain.

Things that didn’t seem fair.

Things that made my life harder.

Things that got me to where I am today.

Now with a college degree and a graduate degree.  Two dogs, a house, a weekend getaway place, three kids who probably also feel as though they got shortchanged.

I know I didn’t spend as much time with my oldest as I wished I could have. Sure, we had almost three years together in the beginning, but later, with two younger siblings, she didn’t get enough time from me.

My middle child, an only son. Not a Scout, so that connection not there. Not a shopper, so that connection not there.  An introvert.  Less social, not wanting parties in his honor. I should’ve had them anyway.

My youngest. On her own after school every day while I worked at my shop.  Then just the two of us when the divorce was happening. An absent dad for two years. She got the worst of it.

There are always parental regrets.

Parents aren’t perfect. I get that. Middle children get lost in the shuffle sometimes. It happens.  What happens to us determines who we become.  Sometimes getting lots of no’s is motivation to grow up, move out, get what you need.

It can’t be fair. It is never fair.

Just ask my kids. They will tell you.

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