I guess my story is all too familiar and not at all unique, but I still feel the need to share it.
All my life I’ve struggled with being a middle child, sandwhiched in between two sisters born 2,5 before and 2 years after me. I’ve always been the odd one out, the odd ball, the weirdo who as a child hid in the closet with her books and talked to herself. When I hit puberty I was described as moody, difficult and impossible and I spent most of my time in my room, scribbling in my journal and writing obscure poetry about how awful life was. I still tried my very hardest to please my parents and make them notice me. It was a tough job, I’ll tell you… My sisters were both very successful competetive riders and I was the groom, always on the side lines, taking care of the horses, rooting for my sisters and being pushed out of photos taken by our proud parents.
I moved away from home at an early age, to attend high school in another city. It was a relief to stand on my own two feet and leave the bubble of never being noticed. I am now 24 years old and to this day I still crave the praise and attention of my parents: two things that they squander mainly on my little sister. I’m at the bottom of the phone list, when there’s a family gathering coming up I always hear about from my sisters, I rarely receive a direct invitation. When my parents call me, 9 times out of 10 they want to ask me how my younger sister is doing and if I’m looking out for her. It makes me feel unimportant and replaceable.
Some people think this whole middle child syndrome discussion is stupid and just a way for chronically wronged people to blow off some steam, but I think that’s over-simplifying the matter and offending those of us who grew up in this reality. I can still feel sad thinking about how my parents would make us take turns playing with toys or having candy handed to us by saying “Oldest first” or “Youngest first”. No one ever thought to give me the first turn, not once. I really don’t want to be one of those people who clings to old issues from the past but fact is that this is still very much part of my life. My parents are planning a trip this summer and my younger sister has been offered an indefinite loan so she can afford tickets and accommodation. I’m expected to pay for myself.
The biggest effect of my middle child syndrome is that I’ve grown a bit distant from my family. I’m engaged to a wonderful guy and we get more support and emotional validation from his family. My relationship with my fiancée is my future and I’ve decided to invest energy in our life instead of dwelling on my family situation. I hope I’ll someday start feeling good about being me, being in a happy relationship, having wonderful friends and a meaningful career has gone some way towards easing my sense of being odd, strange and “wrong”. I pray that all middle children suffering from this syndrome one day will reach a point where we all feel that we are unique and worth just as much as our siblings, regardless of how we’ve been treated and still are being treated by our parents!