My brother is the youngest and the middle child.
I’m both an only child and the youngest of three.
I feel like this should be a “What Am I?” riddle, but nope! It’s just a description of my family.
You see, when your siblings are 15 and 17 years old when you’re born, the 15-year-old has been the youngest for quite a long time. And when you’re 3, both siblings have left home for college, and you become the only child at home.
We have quite an interesting family dynamic because of this. I met my (soon-to-be) in-laws when I was 5, gained 2 in-laws when I was 6 and 7, and became an aunt when I was 8. I didn’t even know if I liked having these in-law people join our family. I mean, all they were doing were taking my siblings away. I almost cried when my sister Christine showed us her engagement ring. “Mom, will I ever see her again?” As much as I knew that I had this brother and sister and brother-in-law and sister-in-law, they were pretty much just four more adults who I happened to be related to. That’s nice. How does this matter to me? thought 5-year-old Allison.
I’d spend time at their houses, play with the kiddos, sometimes spend the night. It was fun, but we had next to nothing in common. They were having children and buying houses, and I was rocking dolls playing house on my swingset. There was no way for me to relate to any of them. I have a distinct memory of sitting on the sofa next to my sister, listening to her talk to my sister-in-law about a TV show and wishing with all my heart I knew what the heck they were talking about so I could join in. Ever tried having a conversation with a 7-year-old? There’s only so long or deep you can go.
As I’ve gotten older, starting about halfway through high school, I’ve started to get to really know Christine and David. We’ve started having those deeper conversations that I think lots of people have with their siblings at a much younger age.
I consider this delay-of-game both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it’s hard to be starting out in a relationship with siblings, of all people, so late in life. When most people are solid in their family relationships and are branching out to meeting friends, I’m just now starting to learn Christine's and David’s habits, their likes and dislikes, what their early years were like, their experiences that made them who they are now.
On the other hand, it’s kind of nice to not have past experiences in the way of our relationships. I don’t have horrible fights with them in my mind, no major disagreements in the way. While most siblings can remember shouting matches with their brothers and sisters, or being mad at a sister for “borrowing” a sweater without asking, or being hit by an ornery brother, I have no such memories. [ There was that time when I was 10 and Christine wanted to play a game that she was really good at and I stunk at. I was pretty ticked off for a good couple hours… And there was that other time when I was 3 that David tried to put my arms in my sleeper before he put my legs in… doesn’t work like that, bro. ;) ] But really, no horrible memories.
These last couple years have been wonderful, as I’ve headed off to their alma mater for college and experience some of the same things that they did “in the good old days”. It’s been so wonderful for me to be able to text them with a question or a fun fact of the day or when I need advice. I feel like I’m finally “catching up” to where I want to be with them.
I have also grown a lot since the days of “I really don’t like this invasion of in-law people”. (Here I will state that when I was 5, I tried to convince my brother-in-law that Christine loved me more than she loved him. He did his best to convince me that that was impossible; after all, she chose him, but she had no choice to be related to me. Humph. Whatevs.) I no longer consider Jake and Teresa just my in-laws, but my siblings.
As much as I wasn’t a fan of our family arrangement when I was younger, it’s been a terrific blessing to me as I’ve grown up. As much as I’ve always wished for more siblings, God gave me in-laws and nieces and nephews to make for that. As much as I used to wonder how to get to know them all, I’ve been given a humongous gift in their love and friendship.
Jake and Teresa, thank you for accepting me as a little sister 15 years ago. You’ll never know how much its meant to have you in my life, and that has only increased in the recent years. Thanks for letting me steal your spouses away sometimes, for giving me time to get to know them, and for letting me crash at your houses for dinners and sleepovers. And thank you for your advice, thoughts, and love.
Christine and David, you guys are the best. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful siblings as role models and examples of Christian femininity and masculinity. I’m so sorry for every time I’ve been an annoying little sister.
… for playing games with me and putting my sleeper on (even though it scarred me) (kidding, kidding) (no really, I’m fine)
… for buying me coffee and reed diffusers
… for putting up with me when I was little and wanted to sit on the porch with you and your significant other
… for introducing me to your friends (who are sometimes my friends’ parents) and acting normal about it
… for not going nuts every time you’re mistaken for my mom or dad (even when we’ve already corrected the waiter 3 times!)
… for your hours on the phone with me, the millions of texts you’ve received from and sent to me, the emails you send just to say “hi”
… for sharing your experiences with me so that I don’t make the same mistakes (or if I do, for understanding)
… for telling me you love me
… for becoming two of my very best friends
I love you guys.