Forty: Petulance

“If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.”  – Linda Sunshine

We celebrated my husband’s birthday on Saturday. His family including two sisters, one brother-in-law, and parents were there in addition to our two kids. It was a full house filled with laughter and celebration. But whenever his birthday rolls around, I have this nagging petulant feeling like he is getting all the fun and attention. WTF? My kids do this and they are three and five years old. I’m not sticking my finger in the icing of his cake or anything silly like that; it’s low-key petulance like being testy in the car as we drive over to his parents’ house.

Then I look back to my upbringing as a quasi only child. See, I have six brothers. One step-brother whom I was raised with who is nine years older than me, an older half-brother I have been in contact with but never met, and four younger half-brothers that I know but was never raised with. By time I was seven-years-old, my step-brother was rarely seen around home so I feel like that long stretch of being the only child in the house lead me to developing common only child traits. I never really understood this about myself until my third year of college when my roommate (an only child) and I had epic fights screaming at one another and slamming doors. It was a revelation for both of us. Not only did we need to share our space, but we needed to get over a sense of entitlement. Our home was a little universe, and we could choose to be asteroids hurling towards one another or planets that held a safe and respectable orbit. Neither one of us was the sun; maybe the concept of harmony was the sun.

So why can’t I shake this childish feeling that my husband is having all the fun? He takes us along for the ride. He is not demanding. He doesn’t like surprises. All I can do is laugh at myself, and laugh at the fact that the people we love the most can also get a mix of odd feelings that aren’t so supportive and nurturing – remnants of childhood.

Do you ever harbor feelings you know are inappropriate towards those that you love?


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