Middle is Mine

I don’t share well, really, I share hardly at all. Mine is mine! When I was in college I bought a Wilson aluminum racquet, which damaged my elbow something fierce. I had my name engraved on the racquet handle, even tho it almost killed me, it was mine. Look at any of my books and my name is written inside, usually with the date [being precise is a good quality]. Glory be, I even have my own bottle of Bushmills at the club! Yes, mine is definitely mine.

Call it the middle child syndrome, which was a staple of my conversations with my mom, especially through the teen years. I blame a lot on middle-childhood. Middle-childhood was a boon and a curse at the same time. A boon actually, but more on that later. It is a cliché to say that something is vastly overrated, but think of middle-childhood as more a universal truth than a passé statement. Just as a name can have a lot to do with how you see yourself, therefore how you look back out at the world, your birth order can create a not quite false view of mankind overall. As a middle you have to put up with all those overbearing eldest children and less than helpful youngest children, regardless of age.

As a middle child I was loved and cared for. I knew that. Absolutely. But. Oh, and, that is huge, I also knew I wasn’t the baby of the family and I wasn’t the oldest. My standing in between my sisters was implicit, but not quickly identifiable. Oldest is one word. Baby is one word, as is youngest. But middle child comes with baggage from all those one-word siblings going back to the beginning of humanity. I’ll just bet, in some prehistoric cave in the bowels of deepest Africa, an oldest chiseled a picture off the cave wall of a middle child just trying to get some attention.

Growing up I had to work harder than my siblings. Three girls we, but I wasn’t the first to go out into the big world, so I didn’t blaze any trails. According to Mom, I was to learn from my older sister. And, I had to be brave and honest and truthful so that my younger sister could see those qualities in action, ergo, I had to act older sister. Sigh. That’s like being given a new job with all the responsibilities and none of the perks or salary increases.

My dad was an oldest. He told me ‘stand tall, walk tall’, he closed all the letters he sent to me while I was in college with that closing line. My mom was an oldest. I didn’t know that growing up, Lucyle admitted only to being youngest, her ability to tell the truth was always compromised in favor of a better story. And, as part of those stories, she gave me a boon, ‘a thing that is helpful or beneficial’, she told me I stood right in the middle. And when you stand in the middle all you have to do is stretch out your arms and push the sides away. Then, well, you’re not in the middle anymore, you are standing alone! Maybe that’s why I don’t share.

 

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