Life Starts With the Family
I wished I had more time to spend with my sisters.
Last week my sister got married! I wasn’t aware. I was made aware through a messenger. I received one picture of the newlywed couple. Pause. I received one picture of the bride. Pause. I received the news of her expecting a baby. Pause. I broke down in tears. The jealousy overwhelmed me! It was just another symptom of a condition that I have been suffering from for years: Spoiled Brat Syndrom.
Life starts with the family, for better or for worse.
We all have families, but we think of them in different ways. Some of us are influenced by their families more than others. I believe that families play a significant role in shaping the behaviour and beliefs of an individual. The more we interact with someone, the more we can influence someone’s life. And the closest people to us, tend to be our families.
I have two siblings who are 10 to 12 years older than me, so my experience is different than for someone who grew up with siblings who were closer in age. Because of the age gap, I spent a lot of time by myself. While I was fascinated by Disney characters, my sisters were daydreaming about Backstreet boys. When I was preoccupied with high school drama, my sisters were finishing their Master Studies and were moving out of the parent’s nest. Somehow I felt that we were constantly out of sync.
When I was a child, they were teens. When I was a teen they were young adults. When I was a young adult they had children of their own. We were in different life stages. I got older, but never old enough. The timing was never right and I was always the baby sister.
There are countless studies on birth order and it’s alleged impact on the child’s personality. Many psychologists disagree about how much of a role birth order actually plays in early development. Many have suggested that siblings’ personalities differ because of the way children adopt various strategies to win their parents’ attention. According to this theory, the oldest child may be more likely to become authoritative while younger can become rebellious. With further research, I came across some common aspects of the personalities of oldest, middle and youngest children.
Firstborn are believed to be natural leaders. Being the oldest child translates into certain family responsibilities that require governing skills from an early age. Often firstborns serve as role models to their younger siblings. It is believed that firstborns tend to be more responsible, competitive than younger siblings.
I used to call my oldest sister Gestapo. She had to have control over everything. She knew the best. She was an ultimate example of how things should be done. I looked up to her. I used to imagine growing up and being like her.
She was the good-looking one. Tall, with long curly hair, with a perfect body and a Hollywood smile. She used to play in the theatre.
She never became a famous actress, but to me, she will always be a Star.
I had a love-hate relationship with her for years. She reminded me too much of our mum. She liked to criticize. When seeking comfort and reassurance from the oldest sister I was usually faced with a mini version of our mum. We have never established a relationship I have wished for and could never fully open up to her, because of the fear of judgement. I am very sorry about that.
Perhaps she is sorry too. It is not her fault that she was put on the edge between being a parent and a sibling. It was her, who was nursing me often, putting me to sleep, playing with me. She used to re-tell me the story of our first encounter. Her eyes lit up, whenever she mentioned the moment our mum let her carry me. The baby picture of me embedded in her memory. Maybe I shouldn’t take that memory away. Just maybe, because of her, I can be a child forever.
Middle children are considered to be the most isolated, excluded or even outright neglected because of their birth order. Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist came up with a term called Middle Child syndrome. Referring to the feeling of exclusion by middle children. The middle children are perceived as being eager to please and impress parents. They tend to be good at compromise, as they learned how to negotiate between bossy older and needy younger siblings. They can also be sometimes secretive and can struggle with self-confidence.
My second oldest sister always puzzled me. I never knew what was truly going through her head or how she felt about certain things, I am sure no one in the family knew. In her 20s, she was slightly overweight and lacked confidence. She used to spend her evenings at home watching Dawsons Creek while the oldest was out partying the nights away.
In my teens, we used to go to the cinema together and checked few rock gigs. We connected at that time. She was also perceived to be the mild-tempered one. I saw her lose control only once in my life. I believe somehow I and my oldest sister pulled her into our conflict. We overstepped the line and made her explode with rage. The next thing I remember was holding hands with my oldest sister and running for life. From then on we never pushed her buttons.
In her early 30s, she broke free from her cocoon.
She became a confident, independent and beautiful young lady. Today I received the news of her expecting a baby. I am still baffled why she kept her wedding in secret. I am hurt. I am angry. I am jealous. Later in a day, I received a message from my oldest sister, complaining that she wasn’t invited to the wedding. My response to her complain, was a complaint of my own.
But perhaps- today is not about me and Gestapo. Today is about our Middle Sister. Perhaps, she struggled with her identity, feeling of having no role in our family. Perhaps she did not feel special enough. Perhaps, getting married in secret, where her only witnesses were two friends and God, made her feel special. And if so, then I should not be angry. I should be sorry that she didn’t feel special when needed the most.
Youngest children are often described as spoiled, impulsive and willing to take risks. They are also known to get away with more, able to push the limits on rules that older siblings were unable to. The reasoning for this is that by the time the youngest sibling comes along, parents are less worried and they loosen the boundaries. I have been reminded many times of having more freedom than my sisters had in my age. I had less responsibilities and more opportunities for fun.
I was often compared to my siblings and I rebelled in order to distinguish myself. I longed to be different. Incomparable. At times I was manipulative and used my charm to get out of troubles. Many times my poor behaviour was excused by my parents. While my sisters were pursuing careers in Linguistics and Medicine. I took a different approach, a bit more creative. I dreamt of an audience. I enrolled in Film Studies and Creative Writing.
My mum was 44 years old when she gave birth to me. At that time, in the country where I was born, she was considered the oldest mother to conceive naturally. Some believe that the youngest child is usually a “mistake”. I was told that I was “ the only hope” to save my parent’s marriage. Perhaps they lied to me, as the youngest children are led to believe they’re invincible and important, because no one ever lets them fail and get hurt.
The truth is that I did have more opportunities, more freedom and more toys than my sisters. I was spoiled, irresponsible, needy and rebellious. But everything comes with a price.
Dear sisters, you have known me my entire life. I know I have let you down. I angered and disappointed you often. Both of you have disapproved many of my choices. You have criticised and judged my opinions. You have wished more of me. But never have you stopped caring for me.
I wish to tell you, that you have been right. I have been unreliable, inpatient, oversensitive, obnoxious and problematic. I had more power over our parents than you ever did and I have misused the power. I have manipulated and I have been mischevious. Often I have been jealous. For many years, I have been jealous of the time. The time which I didn’t get to spend with you and our parents. My childhood was easier than yours was, but the pass I was given came with a price.
I have never spent enough psychical time with our parents. They did not have as much energy for me as they did for you. I never saw our parents young. I envied you for the times you have spent with them when I wasn’t born yet.
I envied your friends, your boyfriends, your managers, your husbands, your unborn children. I considered them a competition. It is because of them, that we are drifting apart.
How come I am two steps behind you? How come we can’t relate? Often I wish to fast-forward my life and close the gap between us. I wish to have known you longer. You have made me who I am today.
You have taught me to:
Imagine, Believe, Create, Follow and Protect- My Dreams
Listen, Inspire, Provide, Hep and Protect- Those Around Me
Embrace, Appreciate, Forgive, Wait and above all, to Love
Without you, I can’t imagine a world without you. Excuse my immaturity once again and, please, overlook the inner child that often cries for attention. It is hard to admit that I wish to be your baby sister forever. As the saying goes:
An older sister helps one remain half child, half woman.
Who would not like to live in the Neverland forever?