Dear Middle Kid,
Hi there, sweetheart. It’s me, your mom.
Let me start by saying that I think you’re amazing. You’re smart, fun, funny, passionate, and a hundred other things I notice on a regular basis, but probably don’t tell you enough.
I see you. But I don’t know if you know that I see you. You, who are sandwiched between your siblings. You, who doesn’t get the excitement of being first at most things or the sentimentality of being the last. You, who may sometimes feel a bit lost amidst all of the perks and problems that go along with being the oldest and the youngest.
You, my middle child. I want you to know some things.
Yes, it’s true. You sometimes get the shaft when it comes to your parents’ attention. As hard as I’ve tried not to let it happen, I’ve watched it play out time and again.
With the first kid in the family, we have to figure things out. Everything they do, every stage they reach, every milestone they hit is totally new to us. Parents have to figure out how to handle each of those things, and so much of it is trial and error that the oldest does get a disproportionate amount of our focus.
And the baby of the family . . . well, they’re the baby. The last baby, which means that everything they do, every stage they reach, every milestone they hit is the end of an era. We know how quickly it all goes by now. We know what things are important to really cherish and what things we can let go. So naturally, the youngest gets a bit more spoiling than the rest.
But while it may seem like your siblings get the best of us, that’s not actually the case. Because you, my middle child, you are the story between the bookends. You are the sweet Oreo center of our family life. You are not on the outside—you are the inside.
That’s not to say that your status as the middle child defines you. You are who you are. But sitting in that in-between space will impact who you are in ways that you won’t know until much later. I know. I was a middle kid too. And honestly, I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
There are some distinct advantages to being in your position in the family. You get the privilege and the pain of being both a younger sibling and an older sibling. Both of those roles will teach you and mold you in ways that your siblings won’t experience.
You get the advantage of being closer in age to your siblings than they are to each other. You have the most opportunity to forge strong bonds and shared childhood memories.
You don’t have to deal with the pressures oldest kids tend to feel, and you don’t have to always feel like you’re trying to keep up with everyone else like the youngest can feel. You’re free from a lot of expectation that gets laid upon your siblings.
Tucked in the middle, you also get to experience the fullness of these years when we’re all together as a family. The oldest and youngest miss some things as they leave before and arrive after everyone else. You’re right there in the thick of it for the longest.
And yeah, sometimes it sucks to be the middle kid. Sometimes you’d like to have a more defined role, perhaps. But that’s also one of the best things about being a middle child—you can be anything you want to be.
Research shows that you will tend to be more open-minded than your siblings, and also better at negotiating, which are qualities that will serve you well throughout your life.
But research also says you may end up feeling more distanced from your parents than your siblings, and that’s the one thing I am determined to avoid. Because you are not any less my child, any less my heart, any less the light of my world than my oldest or youngest. I never want you to feel that that’s the case. I never want you to question, even for a second, your place in this family and in my life.
You, my one-of-a-kind, awesome, precious middle child. Please forgive your parents’ fallibility, then take this role and run with it.
And know as you go, know that you are loved, utterly and completely, now and forever.