8/12/2018 – TODAY IS NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

I was a middle child. I’m not anymore because my older brother died and my younger sister got addicted to everything and disappeared. I’m assuming she is alive since no one has told me otherwise, but I have no actual evidence to that effect.


Middle children have an interesting place in family life. If the family is big, there are lots of middle children so you can have quite a heap of middle children, but in the three-child family, middle children are often communicators. We take messages to the other warring family members.

Mom tells you to tell dad whatever, which you do, then he tells you to tell her something else. You brother confides in you because you are “The One Who Talks.”

It’s a weird role for a kid. It makes you feel important. Everyone counts on you to take and deliver messages. But it’s a fake importance. What you are really doing is helping your dysfunctional family not communicate with each other.

That was the final reason I went to Israel. My marriage was tired and not doing well … and my family had gone from dysfunctional to dangerously dysfunctional. Frighteningly dysfunctional with potentially lethal results. I felt — and I’m sure I was right — that if I didn’t go far away, I would never break the chain of recriminations, threats, lies, prevarications, fear … the whole ugly wrapper.

Not all families are equally dysfunctional, but mine was way beyond standard. Matthew and I survived. I survived better than he did, though he lived a good — if sadly short — life.

He had a great wife and an amazing relationship with her. I’m pretty sure she saved his life. Although I had one really awful marriage, Jeff and I got along well. As a marriage, it faltered, but it was a strong friendship. We were supportive of one another until finally, he died. Even after we divorced, we stayed friends.

I was right. My time in Israel broke that chain of me as the family communicator. Unfortunately, my mother died … and then, there was only my brother, and then Jeff and Matthew died — both much too young.


But then there were new friends. There was the internet.

I communicate again. I don’t see your faces, but I feel you. I worry about you, want to know you are okay. You matter to me. I am not good at virtual relationships. To me, you are real. Distant, I admit, but real.

Stay real. Stay well. Stay safe.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

22 thoughts on “8/12/2018 – TODAY IS NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I didn’t realise you also had a sister. I am also the middle child, but there is no-one older or younger, so I am in the middle all on my own. We had a functioning family, but even that can make you a little disfunctional, because sometimes it can get a little too functional. Isn’t Internet wonderful, perhaps not always, but that is a matter of common sense. We are not related, we never meet, but you get the feeling if someone is right

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My brother died — it doesn’t seem like it — more than 10 years ago. He was not yet 61 … and my sister vanished before then. When my father died, the lawyers literally dug her up, but after that, she vanished. The addicts’ world is not our world. So I’m really the only one, too. Garry’s the oldest of the three, but you’d never know it because his youngest brother is definitely the bossiest! I swear people salute when he walks past!

      Yes, the Internet is wonderful. If it weren’t for our ability to communicate this way, can you imagine how isolated we would be?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I am the oldest of three sons. My middle Brother is 5 years younger. MY ‘Baby” Brother is 14 years younger than me.

      My Brothers live close to each other in Northfield, Minnesota. Distance will make getting together a challenge. But we stay in touch via email. We’re on good terms as Brothers go.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when my grandparents passed away. My mother said that now it was their turn to be the seniors in the family. Well my parents are gone and it’s our turn. Nice to see the children step into their on coming role.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find — and Garry too — that we are mostly “the seniors” when someone wants something. I suppose my parents must have felt like that too, though I didn’t think of it that way at the time. But you know, we get so used to asking parents/grandparents for stuff — and favors — it doesn’t seem to cross our minds that times have changed not only for us, but also for them. It’s an interesting thought to ponder.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. You too. I seem to know you (except the artifical corny flowers….) and I can say I love you – at a distance – but none the less.
    Stay safe, and stay real. And you’ve got Garry…. 🙂


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