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Why I don’t mind the phrase “Middle Child”

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have 3 children, in fact, I waited 8 years after marriage to even have my first child, so there really wasn’t a lot of time before I got too old to have 2 children, let alone 3.

But 3 children is exactly what I had: thus the middle child was born.

Literally, when he was born, my mother commented that I shouldn’t have another child after him because then this one would be the “middle child,” like he’d be wearing a scarlet “M”, like there was something wrong with that.

Did the term: "middle child" paint a picture of him before it even happened, implying that middle children get lost in the crowd or simply ignored or forgotten.

So when I did get pregnant with my 3rd, I vowed that I would never let me middle child feel exactly that: being the middle.

Sure, was he always positioned in the middle of the family photos because it was shot tallest to shortest?

Sure, was he the recipient of a lot of outgrown clothes from his brother, thus getting the nickname: “Hand-me-down Christian?”

Sure, was he that kid on the playground, that when he ran up to me, hugged me, and ran away, another mother asked, “who is that?”

Sure, all these things happened, but on the flip side, out of the 3 kids, he’s the politest one of the bunch. He says “please” and “thank you” and actually gives me hugs, solicited and unsolicited. He’s the class clown and the family clown, telling lots of jokes, some inappropriate -- some even more inappropriate – but we laugh and roll our eyes -- he’s the boundary pusher.

But he makes straight A’s, is in accelerated classes, hits home runs and shoots hockey pucks like that of a pro, so I guess along the way, his dad and I must have been doing something right.

Perhaps it was the special care and understanding that I had when he was little -- give him the same opportunities of my time (or maybe a little more) so he would specifically not feel like the 3rd (or middle) wheel.

I remember sneaking into his room in the middle of the night, giving him extra cuddles when no one was looking, whispering “I love you more than you love me” a thousand times and buying his favorite foods, all the while not buying his siblings their favorite foods (not on purpose or was it subconsciously ON purpose???).

And the ironic thing is he’s the most easy-going of the 3 – he doesn’t ask for much, he wears his shoes until they have holes in them before asking for another pair (perhaps the holes are because they are hand-me-downs, whoopsie) and he didn’t complain when his hair turned orange after I put sun lightener in it (see this article about his brother, double whoopsie).

So, maybe being a middle child isn’t so bad for their psyche after all. Maybe “Middle Child Syndrome” is just a label that means nothing – but I’d like to think it means everything… my middle child is who he is BECAUSE he was born in the middle, he wears it like a badge of honor, it’s his being, it’s who he is … and you know what?

He and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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