I have so many of them that I’m afraid I might miss to mention one or two. Just kidding.

A while ago a friend of mine asked me if I was the “middle sister.”

Funny, but I had to stop and think, for sometimes the simplest, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions have not-so-simple answers.

“Well, I am the middle sister,” I said. “And I’m also the oldest. And the youngest.”

I hold multiple sister positions in my family thanks to the long string of multiple happily-never-after marriages and happily-ever-after divorces.

Photo by Ludmila Shumilov on Unsplash

There is something called ‘the middle child syndrome’. The little ‘in the middle’ person is squished between the oldest sibling, typically an over-achiever, the most important child and the one with the most privileges, and the baby of the family, which is the most looked after kiddo and can get away with almost everything. (There could only be one oldest and one youngest, while multiple kids can hold the middle position. I don’t know if there is a hierarchy among them.) Being a middle child doesn’t seem fair, and often is not, but it seems to be the natural order of things. It’s not a surprise, then, the middle kiddo, according to some research, is often left out and somewhat neglected.

As if being the middle sister isn’t enough, I’m also the one on the left and the one on the right, depending of what set of parents and step-parents we’re talking about. As the middle sister, I was indeed squeezed between my older and younger siblings. (For the sake of accuracy, I should throw my brothers, one half-, one step-, into the mix as well, but since this was about sisters, I’ll keep my brothers in brackets.) My older sisters were quite older – one twelve and the other one eight years older. One of my younger sisters is five years behind me. Looking from my middle position, I can easily identify both the ‘achievers’ and the ‘babies’ in my family.

But then I shuffle this unconventional deck of cards called my family, and all of a sudden I’m the oldest – the achiever, the responsible, reliable and mature sister. A surrogate mother to the younger siblings. The family babysitter, cook and cleaning maid. Another shuffle, and I’m the youngest, the ‘baby’ of the family, my father’s favorite, overprotected, pampered and a bit spoiled.

One more shuffle brings my step-family into the picture, I’m again in the middle, having one older and one younger step-sister.

Having older sisters had lots of advantages, from rummaging through their clothes and shoes and picking what I liked, to spending summer holidays with them and their families, to having nephews close to my age. Thanks to the same logic (having much older cousins, that is) I became a great-aunt at the age of thirty-two, years before I became a mother myself. Having younger ones meant I could be protective and sometimes a role model. Hopefully, not too much or too often.

I’m particularly close to the one that I turned into a middle sister. She’s eight years older; she married young so I became an aunt when I was ten. I’m also close to my step-sister, thanks to whom I could be crowned as the “middle sister”. She’s only a year older; we grew up together and shared more than sibling love. We shared a room. School friends. Secrets. Dreams. Other siblings… Hardship. Lots of it.  Feeling of not belonging…

We’re sort of sibling soul mates, even though we’re opposite personalities (think of Yin and Yang). Thanks to me, and my middle position in this particular deck of cards, she is the ‘achiever’, the mature and reliable one. And I can relax a bit and rely on her for guidance, advice and support.

How many sisters do I have? Gimme a sec. Five. Yeah, that’s about right. Some of them have only two, myself included. Some of them three.

I have all of them.

And I love them all.

About jfkaufmann

Not unlike my characters, I lead a double life: by day I'm a mother, a friend, a colleague, and the queen of my kitchen. When the moon rises, however, I shift into my other self and, as Queen of the Night, I reign the magical world of my imagination.
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