To My Middle Child, The Lucky One

by Wendi Woo
Originally Published: 

I have a secret to tell you. You get a bad rap. You don’t develop a complex, you are handed one. You are already considered damaged before any trauma actually happens to you. And because of this, you have totally lucked out.

Your older brother? Yeah, we screwed him up pretty bad. We put the pressure on. He was “advanced” because he rolled over early and walked early. He was spoon-fed educational programming, toys, and games. We were constantly waiting for him: waiting for the next word, the next step, the next milestone. We always see him as older because he is always older than you. He’s the oldest. That’s some major pressure, man.

Your younger brother? Yeah, he’s not in much better shape. With him we haven’t fought a single battle. He gets away with all of it because we are so damn tired. He has worn us down, and while life is good for him now, eventually he’s going to have a rude awakening. Eventually we’re going to put our foot down. Eventually he’ll have to give up the pacifier and the diaper and sleep through the night. It’ll be hell.

And you? Yeah, with you we got it just right. You’re in the sweet spot. I realized this the day your daddy was trying to give the little one a bottle while helping the older one with his homework. You slipped away and ate about twenty Hershey’s chocolate Easter eggs completely unchecked. You hid the first five wrappers in the cushions of the couch and then realized no one was coming, and you feasted. Being middle and forgotten had its perks.

Because of this occasional forgetfulness, we are more sensitive to your needs. You are fiercely protected. The minute you show any signs of anxiety or sadness, we jump on it because we know you are the middle one, the one forgotten. We don’t want you to feel forgotten, so we attend to your needs more vigilantly. But, we don’t hover. Hovering is bad. Ask the older brother. Ask the younger brother, the “baby.” You get to just go through life.

But here is what makes you most special. When the oldest was in my belly, he was everyone’s baby. He was the first grandchild for my parents. He was the first grandson for daddy’s parents. Everyone came out for baby showers and showed up at the hospital and came for visits afterward. I shared him with everyone.

When the youngest was in my belly, he was your and your brother’s baby. You were both so excited to have him. You smothered him and wrestled him and watched him. You guys got the first smile, the first laugh. Not me or Daddy. You shared him with us. We got the poop; you took care of the rest.

But you. You were my baby, all mine. People don’t get as excited about the second baby as they do the first. But not me. I was so excited for you. I pictured you before you were born, like I already knew you.

There were visitors, but not many. I could snuggle you more, kiss you more, watch you more. Daddy took the older one to the park and left us together. Daddy and I figured the older one out together and we figured the younger one out with you and the older one’s help. But there was only one person who could figure you out … me. You were mine to know, and while many love you, because let’s face it, you’re super lovable, you are mine and mine alone.

There are no apologies for being forgotten, for fewer pictures, for being not as special. You lucked out, kid. The middle is a good place to be.

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