Thursday, October 01, 2009

On Being an Oldest Child

I crave solitude. I need it to stay centered and sane. I like entertaining, but I can't do it constantly, or even that often, really. It hurts my head to always be surrounded by people. I have to just be. by. myself. for a while. And then I'm okay again. I think this comes from being the oldest of six children. There was always someone around. Growing up, my friend NY Jill*, who had just one brother, thought being in my house was zany. I thought it was tiring. Even now, with two little ones in a kinda small house, I can suddenly feel so closed in, so claustrophobic. I turn to my husband and say with urgency, "I need a break." Honestly, my break often consists of going to the library, finding a deserted corner and curling up with my current novel. I just need to be alone.

I am a perfectionist. I only pursue perfection in areas I think I can actually achieve perfection in, such as:
  • go kart racing
  • word usage
  • baking
  • fashionable ensembles
I do not pursue perfection in all areas of my life. When I decide to, I can be shockingly good at accepting disarray and imperfections. Such as:
  • untidy surface of my dresser (okay, disastrous would probably be a better adjective here)
  • unfinished craft projects
  • pie crust (I just buy it. Boo-yah.)
I am not a Type A person, unlike most eldest children. Controlling everything has never really been in my personality, though I had to be in charge a lot during my late childhood and teen years. When I went away to college, I just let go of trying to control everything. It was wonderfully liberating. When I returned home for the summer, I found that the next oldest child had stepped right up to that Type A plate and was busily bossing around children 3-6.

So naturally I married a Type A man. I calm him down. Or try. He spurs me to action, without which I might never leave the house on weekends.

I take parental attention for granted. Children 3 and 4 are constantly seeking that attention, or obsessively pretending like they don't need it anyway. Poor middle kids. I think they get the crappiest piece of the family pie.

My brother (#2) once fantasized that our parents had stopped at two kids. What a fabulous life we would have had, he mused. It's true we would have had nicer clothes. Much nicer clothes. But when my sister (#5) calls me to let me know that if I love her, I will buy a magazine for her high school fundraiser, or I leave completely random information on my brother's (#3) Facebo0k wall, knowing he will find it hilarious, I can't help but be glad for all those siblings.

But I could really use a break.

*NY Jill got married this summer! Shout out to the married lady!


Margaret said...

GREAT post Anth! Loved reading every detail. I too, 'can be shockingly good at accepting disarray and imperfections'... untidy dresser - yes. unfinished craft projects - yes. Only difference is I have never made a pie in my life! Well done. (And I could definitely do with break too!)

Cassie said...

This is a great post. I love that you have achieved perfection in go cart racing. And also that you proudly admit you buy pie crust. I do the same thing.

Jill said...

girl, that pseudonym is confusing!

aa said...