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Thanksgiving and being the Middle Child

I hope Thanksgiving was a warm and wonderful celebration for everyone! My husband, Sean, was gracious to agree to another trip down to Virginia to have Thanksgiving with my family first, then returning to Maryland to visit with his family. Last year we left on Wednesday night, and the trip took seven hours due to traffic (it should only take four!) This time we left Tuesday night, and the trip took five hours. It's progress! Actually, this time it wasn't the traffic that made the trip a challenge - there were so many crazy drivers, and we witnessed several accidents. When I took over the wheel midway through the trip, I was startled to see headlights right up against our car. A little while later this vehicle finally passed me, and it was a big truck! I couldn't even tell because it was so close to me. At that point, I prayed that God would create a buffer around our car. For the rest of the trip, there was a safe cushion of space around our car, and I felt tremendous peace in knowing God was protecting us all along the way. For the first time ever, my sister and I prepared the holiday meal. We had to chase our mother out of the kitchen a few times with a stern warning that she wasn't allowed to fret over anything, and she finally seemed to get the message and relaxed. A bit. For her, that's a major accomplishment. And for us, it was a blessing to show that we were able and competent women. Though we are in our thirties, our parents have a tendency to revert back to treating us like we're still teenagers. And they like to lump us together as one female entity, though we have two very different personalities and lifestyles. That has been perhaps the most frustrating aspect of our entire family life, my sister and I being treated as though we were the same person versus being recognized for our individuality. And though our lives are so very, very different, that hasn't changed in nearly forty years. I am the older daughter and middle child. And yes, most of the things they say about middle children were true with me: The following information comes from an article: Middle Children: Finding Their Own Pride of Place by Robert Needlman, M.D., F.A.A.P. ...Middle children... They often aren't the biggest and strongest, they aren't the babies who get away with murder, they aren't really anything special, at least in their own minds. Sometimes they feel invisible. But this uncomfortable feeling of not having a defined place in the family may actually turn out to be an advantage. Unlike first children, who often define success by their ability to meet their parents' expectations, middle children are more prone to rebel against the status quo. Another result of having a less well-defined place in the family is that middle children often reach outside the family for significant relationships. They make close circles of friends. As the underdogs themselves in many sibling conflicts, middle children often develop a fine sense of empathy with the downtrodden... Where first and last children may tend to be self-centered, middle children often take a genuine interest in getting to know other people. Being in the middle, they may find it easier to look at interpersonal situations from various points of view. The most revealing part of the article above was the statement that not having a defined place in the family can be an advantage. Though I often felt lonely when my brother and sister conspired together, it taught me to stand alone and for myself. It enabled me to find my voice early in life and to depend on my inner resources of creativity, imagination, and sometimes sheer will to navigate through life, both in my younger years and even now as an adult. As I mentioned earlier, my sister and I have followed two very different paths in our lives and have very different personalities. Almost opposites in every way. I would call us fiercely individualistic. Yet we have cultivated our relationship and enjoy an open, respectful relationship, which is fantastic. But our parents have a tendency to treat us like we are the same person, which is not fantastic at all. This didn't occur too often at this Thanksgiving gathering. And for that, I am very thankful..........

1 comment:

Mark D said...

Wow, go figure. I never knew "middle children often develop a fine sense of empathy with the downtrodden." I never would have thought being a middle child had anything to do with the empathy I feel. Very interesting!