I was dealing with a bout of middle child syndrome that had flared up the other day, and was thinking about some of the {accurate} stereotypes regarding the outcomes of middle children in adulthood, not that we are all the same. In particular, I was thinking about how a colleague mentioned her middle son as being the least flexible of her children and most appreciative of schedules and routine. That’s a common association that I’ve come across, and I think that generally speaking, we can be more flexible than people give us credit for . . . particularly because we aren’t constantly announcing that we have yielded our will and sacrificed our preferences. We can actually be super easy going and tend to be really good at picking our battles when it comes to {not} getting our way on things that are not that deep. Ha.

If it is true at all, I think the reason that we might be – or appear – resistant to change, spontaneity, or fluidity in plans is because we have grown up feeling like we were “always” the ones to be negatively impacted by plans that needed to change . . . always the ones that were are asked to wait . . . always the ones that were promised make-up excursions, delayed gratification, future rewards. For whatever reason, it seemed like the older sibling{s} always had some brand spanking new and important {or merely hormonal} situation that can’t wait or be rearranged, and our younger sibling{s} were less mature and more prone to expressing their indignation and disappointment. So since our thing isn’t *that* important, and we’re too old to throw tantrums, we are asked and voluntold to wait.

And we got it . . . we understood that managing a matrix of family schedules is a delicate practice. But that’s why we can become wary of disrupted plans. We saw that the moment something else came up that required our parents’ time, energy, or financial resources, the middle part was the first to fall out. If Oldest had to be somewhere at 2PM and Youngest was promised a playdate at 4PM, but the line was too long at the bank, or there was one more client at work, the 3PM errand we’d been looking forward to all week was the first to be rearranged and sometimes never circled back around to. And then, let us dare make some kind of stink about it, and we’re Immature, Inflexible, and Selfish. It’s JUST this errand at this place that isn’t going anywhere and they make more of them everyday and we’ll get it… eventually. Until we are packed into the middle of the matrix again only to be bottomed out. If the Oldest is transitioning from one school to another, and you’ve only got a grade-changing breakfast, and Youngest is in a costume and has two whole lines, guess who may be parent-less at their function . . . even though you may have been the responsible one who mentioned your event ahead of time, while one or both of the others roll up with crumpled memos the night before . . .

It can feel, as a middle child, that your small inconvenient requests are never prioritized or taken seriously. Which can in turn leave you feeling like *you* are never prioritized or taken seriously. And if you have my recovering perfectionist personality, which is already overly burdened with the guilt of existence and having a need you can’t as an eight year old take care of by yourself, it can contribute to the silently accumulating resentments that you know you’re not ‘supposed’ to feel {and genuinely don’t want to}, which makes them even harder to process.

The worst is being shamed for “asking” for attention. I used to hate when I would reach my limit of feeling neglected and then someone in my family would be like, Awww bEkKaH NeEdS AtTenTiOn . . . as if I shouldn’t, or as if they had been providing it in abundance all along. Even plants and dust need attention. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If a child feels neglected it’s at least worth investigating whether or not they are being given enough of what they actually perceive to be love and affection. It’s worth having a conversation rather than trying to embarrass or patronize them out of seeking satisfaction for a reasonable need. I’m sure that my perception may have – at times – been inflated and overly dramatic, but satan’s most convincing lies are usually delivered with some sort of reality or lived experience that makes them more believable.

At any rate, I think that’s why I have been so deeply affected by the realization that God is not perturbed by my existence and the space I take up and the need I continually create by being alive. And more than just being alive, having preferences and desires . . . things I could certainly live without, exist without; things I don’t “need,” but are a reflection on so many different levels of why I am alive and what my existence is meant to accomplish. I am so thankful that God is so faithful. And that even when it feels like He is asking of me what middle children grow weary of . . . to wait a little longer and trust that we are not forgotten . .. I can wait a little longer. I can trust that I am not forgotten. And in the space of waiting, He satisfies me. He is, Himself, the glory in my midst {Zechariah 2:5}.

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C O M M E N T S

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