• The Archer

Empty Nest

Updated: May 10, 2021

I recently saw a TikTok that jokingly suggested that girls who are the eldest in their families wait to get married because they just finished raising their first families (i.e. their parents and siblings.) While there is no scientific basis for this (at least, none that I could find from a perfunctory Google search) this resonated with me quite deeply.


I am an oldest girl. This means when I was born I was immediately blessed with two children I called Mom and Dad. They saw fit to bless me with four more children for me to raise and love as my own. By the tender age of 8, I was a mother of six.


I knew from birth that all this was mine to take care of and if I didn't do the proper taking care of my family they would certainly all die. This was not of course, a situation with an unstable or unwilling parent or parents. Both of my parents were and continue to be wonderful, if human, in their child and young adult and refuse-to-grow-up-mid-twenties-sad-people rearing. So, despite the fact that I had functional parents, I still knew that the fate of my family rested on my shoulders.


No matter how many people told me to stop reading my siblings report cards or that it isn't ok for me to sign permission slips for my brother, I still knew that I was the one with all the power.


Now nearly all my siblings are grown up and I feel like one of those 50 year olds who takes 22 cruises a year because "THE KIDS ARE FINALLY GONE."


When I was 8 and my mother was pregnant with her (my) youngest child, I began to grow jealous of her. I had no idea how that baby had found its way into my mother's stomach but I figured if Hashem could randomly drop a baby into my mom he could do that for me.


And then I would get my most favorite thing in the entire world:


Attention.


I had an elaborate daydream where I explained to my second grade teacher that I could no longer do homework as I was inexplicably pregnant. Then I imagined how much school I would get to miss-at least a week if not two! And, there was no way they could make me do homework after I had had the baby-babies needed too much care. And, I would bring the baby to school with me every day and everyone would abandon their jump ropes and skip-its (#early2000s) to sit with me and ask to hold my baby and I would only let my very best friends hold her (it was always a girl.)


I did consider that having a baby on my own might be stressful, so I added to the fantasy some friends I had in my neighborhood who went to different schools also having babies so we could all hang out together and teach our kids about Arthur. This was the best of both worlds-they wouldn't detract from my attention at school but we could all go shopping for baby clothes together. I also did the math-if I had a baby at 8 then when I was 16 my baby would be 8. I knew that as an 8 year old I was very mature and worldly and I figured my baby would be just like me and that she would fit right in with my 16 year old friend group and then I would have a built in best friend.


This daydream ended a few months later when I found a friends copy of "How Do Babies Get Made?" and I realized that Hashem just magically deciding who should be pregnant was not the entire story.


But realize the insanity of the situation.


I was so deep in the belief that I was raising my siblings that I was actually jealous that my mother got a baby and not me. Though I have tried to cure myself of this notion, it's an oldest girl thing to believe the whole world rides on your (much fatter now) shoulders.


So, when the TikTok found it's way to my ForYouPage I was struck at its truth. Maybe I should wait to get married. After all, I just emptied the nest.


But taking advice/psychiatric help from TikTok also seems...risky. I will use it to once again try to have the best of both worlds: enjoy this time where my nest is finally empty and I can enjoy myself and present myself as a marriage candidate who knows her stuff.


I am, after all, an experienced parent.

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