They stopped at perfection

I’m an only child, which might explain some of my “attention-whoreness,” but I did grow up with tons of cousins and tons of friends.

I guess I accessorized a bit more back then.

And while I enjoyed having my own room and first dibs on the front seat, I was always a bit envious of my friend’s that had older brothers and sisters to kind of clue them in socially. They got to hang out with the “cool” kids and see what they wore, listen to their music and pick up on the slang.

Then there was me, occasionally crimping my hair and slightly confused on the fashion front—middle school was around when “Blossom” was popular, just for a reference point—with a mom that was all about “self-expression” and letting me do my own thing. My own thing often included instructing “Get In Shape Girl” classes on my front lawn, rousing games of “Double Dare” and Mariah Carey concerts complete with foam balls in my training bra (that I didn’t need but was purchased out of pity.)

In other words, my mom was no help.

My point is not that I was a social misfit growing up—I had friends and my childhood until middle school was pretty darn good. Heck, when I wasn’t outside I was happy watching “Small Wonder” and “Who’s the Boss” in my T-shirt, shorts and jellies.

My point is that I often wished I had that older sibling to tell me it was no longer acceptable to wear my snap bracelets and blast PM Dawn from my little portable boom box. It always seemed like I was left to figure things out on my own, and while that’s a wonderful thing in the big picture, sometimes I just wished I had more of a clue.

Now, at almost 30 years old, I still feel the same way.

While being single and embracing my introverted personality is (to some extent) my choice, I often still feel like the little kid who knows more about sports and poker from hanging with the guys than the 20-something successfully navigating her way through the world. I know this is normal, but on so many levels I still feel like I want someone to guide me. I want someone to tell me that doing “this” is a better idea than doing “that” or, even better, I sometimes just want them to do it.

Problem solved, no?

I’m not talking about a professional that I’m paying to financially or professionally advise me—those are many dimes a dozen—but rather someone else to share the adult responsibilities I get sick of thinking about. I couldn’t care less about fashion or popularity. I’m talking about retirement stuff, insurance forms, car maintenance, family issues, thatching my front lawn—I want to split up some of these things or at least pretend to know what I’m doing better than I feel I do.

So while I enjoy being able to stretch out on the couch watching the game in my T-shirt, shorts and jellies and the freedom to forge my way through the “professional” world of whatever, once in awhile I wish I didn’t still feel like such an only child.

My mom, again, is no help.

“People aren’t going to help take care of you if you never let anyone in.* You choose this lifestyle and you can’t have it both ways.**

*Please note that I have never said I want someone to take care of me, as I am perfectly capable. That’s not the point of this rant.

**Also note that this was said as she was dropping off my laundry last Sunday, as we have an agreement that I do her grocery shopping and she does my laundry.

I guess being an only child does have some perks.

14 responses to “They stopped at perfection

  1. I’m an only child, too, Abby, and some of my closest friends are as well. Only “kids”, unite! 🙂 I’m okay with my only child status, though. Like you, I grew up with plenty of cousins around me, and I also have two best friends who were like sisters to me (and they were twin sisters). However, I also enjoyed my “me time” from a very young age… Hell, I’m still learning to “play nice” and share with my husband, after 7 and a half years of being together. I can be a “princess” in ways, as my therapist kindly (and honestly) informed me–meaning that I like to get my way…I love control. She said she can say this b/c she was once a princess herself.
    At any rate, sometimes I feel the need for guidance in ways as well, though I also tend to rebel against it. It’s such a paradox for me, I guess. Wow, do I sound insane or what? 🙂

    • Not insane at all, as I’m the same way. I totally prefer being alone and usually do completely rebel when someone tells me what to do. Maybe I just want someone else to take out the trash once in awhile? 😉

      • Oh, yes… I get it. I think that having roommates from 23 onward, then moving in with Blair, made me realize that part of me CRAVED living alone, but the other part of me truly appreciates someone else occasionally taking out the trash, vacuuming, or making the meals. Esp. since I don’t love to cook. Or take out the trash, for that matter. 😉

  2. I’m an only child as well and I know the feeling of being left behind. I was a follower in high school and once I left for college (on my own, 400 miles away) I was petrified. I sought out attention, unfortunately from all the wrong people (ahem, frat boys anyone?) and it led me to my current husband. <— SO not a frat boy.

    I'll admit, I took the easy way out. He's my best friend and although we still have our battles, he takes care of me and I, him. It's been 6 years of work but I finally feel like I'm back in the game.

    I'm definitely having more than one child though!! And if it's a girl, I will buy her jellies.

  3. If it’s any consolation, I was the older sibling and I knew absolutely nothing. My younger sister taught me how to shave my legs, kiss boys, etc. I was kind of a misfit weirdo.

    I think it’s perfectly natural to love being in control/on your own, but also desire companionship for the annoying things in life (and, hell, companionship is great for non-annoying things too).

  4. Are you still holding ‘Get in Shape’ sessions in your lawn? I would love to be a part of one. Also, the laundry/grocery shopping deal sounds pretty perfect. On a more serious note, I can’t relate much because I am the youngest of three. I always wondered what it would be like to be an only child. My oldest sister used to tell me I was an accident and that my parents reall only wanted her. Other than that, I enjoy being one of three!

  5. I am an only child, too, and I always wished for an older sibling, especially an older brother. My mom was so much like a sister growing up though, and with our birthdays on the same day, it really really felt like she was my sister. My parents held me back a lot and prevented me from doing grown up things (my mom didn’t shave my extremely hairy legs until I was 13, for example). You are so lucky to have your mom close by. Mine is far away, and although I may complain about her, I miss her!

  6. I have a half sister 15 years older than me, shes almost forty. Anyhow she actually comments every so often on my blog and it creeps me out. We aren’t close. She’s my mom’s daughter, and since my mom passed away, we’ve rarely seen each other. maybe a few times a year.
    My dad is pretty awesome, but he’s not that person who i think can guide me because hes so worried about me and all that crap that parents come with. I want to be a toddler. I want my biggest worry to be that I dont know where my sunshine bear is (i was obsessed with care bears). I even wish someone would just make me lunch, and snacks, and chop up my chicken for me and hand me a straw. I think I took care of myself too much, with my mom gone. I think I need to be nurtured a bit, but I put a guard up. I dont let people “take care” of me, thinking I’ll do a better job myself. I don’t know about you, but I find most people need to learn how to be taken care of.

  7. I’m an only child too, so I can totally relate to everything you said. The thing I most hated about being an only child? I had to “rely” on my “friends”. Who may or may not have steered me in the right direction. My Dad helped out a lot, but my Mom not so much (not unlike yours). Guess how many friends I talk to from back then? ONE. (sigh). So did I waste my time? Probably not, because I did end up with that one friend. 😉

  8. I love that you held the Get in Shape sessions on your lawn. My sister and I were gymnasts so we’d put on performances for the neighborhood kids and sell popcorn and kool-aid for 25 cents. I can’t say that I loved being a big sister when I was a kid because she always beat the crap out of me and I wasn’t allowed to hit back because “I should know better.” Aargh! So often I’d wish that I were an only child.

    But I did use my sisterly influence to show her how to build sweet forts with blankets and make up cool games in the pool–when she wasn’t beating me up 🙂

    We are WAY closer (and non-violent) at this point which I really love.

  9. Although I am anything but an only child, having 4 older brothers means I can relate on some level. Being the youngest and only girl meant I was constantly the one not included. “You’re too young” or “It’s a guy thing”. I grew up not understanding my fellow females and still don’t to this day. That coupled with my discomfort around most men caused a life of isolation.

  10. still blast pm dawn on my portable. at least its a portable iPod? i had to throw out my slap bracelets when they started cutting kid’s wrists, but i think i have my blossom hat somewhere still…

    i have a younger sister by 2 years. we lived in the country for much of our kid age years, so it was just us mostly. we were besties at home, but in school, the older we got she was recognized as the more purty, more popular sister, etc…so i think she kindof resented having the less cool older sister. i would have been more use as socially successful. that’s how i see it, generally self depreciating of course and i don’t know her real feelings on the issue. but i sure love her and look up to her now…mother of two and damn good at it. I do know she resents my eating disorder crap a lot. I think she really had visions of us both having kids together and all that. but she would never let on. (that gossip is via mom, sigh)

    bla bla bla im rambling. another reason I feel like a social idiot. I can’t talk unless its like, planned. and this is not planned. see? im still going.

    shut up clare.

  11. Pingback: We Got Game « I Have Issues

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