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Thinking Out Loud: The Sweet Spot

I have been thinking about where the sweet spot is when it comes to family birth order? Is it the oldest, the youngest, or in the middle? I have observed where being the oldest has its advantages and being the youngest has its own rewards. In my mind, the middle has a little of both and thus gives us what I call the sweet spot.

Bruce Heberle
Bruce Heberle

I was number 4 of 5 in birth order of my family. Two sisters and a brother above me and another sister behind me. The oldest 5 years my senior and the youngest, 7 years my junior. Certainly, in the middle!

I see the biggest advantage of being in the middle is that you get to know all your siblings. In my mind, that makes the family bond that much stronger. You get to see your older siblings grow up, emulate them if you wish and watch your younger siblings look to you for guidance.

As a middle child there are no first child expectations. You are free to be you. No high expectations, except those you set for yourself and no being the baby of the family. Being in the middle makes you more self-reliant, less dependent on others, and more adaptable to the world around you.

My oldest sister, Sharon, considers herself the family matriarch. She is a take charge kind of person. What she sees as her birthright, being the oldest child, the rest of us tend to ignore, much to her dismay. We are all pretty set in our ways and do not take kindly to suggestions or opinions different than our own, even those offered with love and for our own good.

Marcia came next. The first of 3 middle children. Later in life, she became my buddy. We enjoyed being together. We laughed, we cried, we share a love of travel and all things Notre Dame. I lost her to Pancreatic Cancer two years ago. When she was alive, I didn’t always appreciate her, now I can’t stop thinking about how much a part of my life she has become.

Brother David came next. We are 15 months apart. I was his best man and he mine. We were law enforcers and law breakers. We toed the line and crossed the line on a consistent basis. We were running mates and he was my best friend. Hopefully, going forward there will be several more exciting chapters written in the Heberle Boys book of life, the novel. (Loosely based on facts remembered or created.)

Julie was last. She enjoyed the benefits of being the youngest child. We adored her. She gave it her all. “You get what you give.” She lived life to the fullest, wide open and full throttle. She gave us all she had. We lost her at 42 to cardiac arrest, 3 weeks before 911. When she was alive, she was large and in charge. I like to think, in heaven she is a celestial force to be reckoned with.

The middle. The sweet spot. Yes, I knew all my siblings. Some of us are driven. Some are fun loving. Some live life full blast while others are more cautious. Different but the same. Where is your sweet spot?

See you next month.