Only Child Syndrome

The thing is that there are two types of only children.

There are those who are legitimately the only child their parents raised, and then there are those who have a significant number of years between them and their closest sibling. In my mind, that number is seven. typical. Any less than that and you simply have a gap in your family.

For me the separation number is ten. That's right, a full decade between me and my closest siblings.  This gap resulted in me being the only child from the age of nine up.

When you are little, your friends are jealous, and you hate it. For your middle-child friends it seems like a dream come true. No one to hog the bathroom, no one to steal your possessions, no one to call shot gun.

But as the only child, you see it a bit differently. No one to talk to when you're getting ready, no one to go the pool with on vacation, no one to be grounded with, no one to endure the car ride with, no one to take your side of the battles against mom and dad, it's always two-to-one.

It also causes you to feel distant from your siblings. You are not only the youngest, you are in a completely different phase of life.

"Oh hey, you are raising children and I am trying to pass the 5th grade... this sure gives us a lot to talk about..."

As a result you feel a bit excluded, and a bit like you will never really fit in.
But then you grow up. You move out, you go to college, and you start to discover the person you really are.

And all of a sudden your friends are giving you the solace you have been seeking for so long. They understand how quiet family dinners must have been, and how lonely family trips were.

But, just as they begin to give you the understanding you once sought, you realize you no longer need it, because you have started to see the benefits.

True, I will never have childhood memories with my siblings, but in exchange I have six people who I trust and love dearly to give me advice. I have nieces and nephews and great-nephews to watch grow up. Now that I am older and a little closer to their life stages I am able to relate to them on a different level. We never had a phase of hating each other for petty childhood reasons, it's pretty much always been a good relationship. I am also closer with my mom than I would have been otherwise, because it was just the two of us for so many years. Not that my dad wasn't there, but my mom was the one homeschooling me day-in and day-out. And I got to travel. I love each stamp in my passport and I only have them because I was the only one.

Yesterday my mom and I went to my niece's home to watch Once Upon a Time with the girls in the family. My sister, my nieces, my mom, and my great-nephew were all there. As we sat talking I realized how grateful I am for my family and the relationships we have.

I wouldn't trade them for the world.