Stuck in the Middle

If you are a middle child, please stand up. Be careful when you do, though, because your older sister or younger brother is likely waiting to take your seat.  They will claim you got up and everyone knows there is no seat saving.  Mom will give the seat to the baby of the family to keep peace and the oldest will take the next best one.  You might as well sit on the floor.  Such is life for the middle child.

This should cheer you up, child in the middle.  You have a national holiday, Middle Child Day!  It’s unofficial, but you have to take what you get, like your sister’s jeans with the hole in the pocket and green paint on the leg.  Or your brother’s jacket with his name embroidered on it.  I digress, which is something we middle children tend to do.

The special day was August 12.  Sadly, it came and went without any fanfare, but because I am a middle child (number three of four and the middle of three girls), I cannot ignore this day.  (I can’t ignore it, but I can manage to be late to blog about it.)

My middle-child experiences include my dad referring to me as his Number Two Daughter, which is appropriate because, like Avis, I try harder.  The good thing about being Daughter #2 is I’m better than Daughter #3.  (Yes, I realize that his ranking is by birth order.  At least that’s what I tell myself as I pour him a drink and rub his feet while repeating how much I love him.)

I’m also a mother of four children; therefore, I have two middle children.  My daughter’s status is not as distinctive because she is the only girl.  My son, Joe, is like me – number three in line and the middle son.  I have determined not to call him my #2 Son, but that’s all the headway I’ve made in keeping him from having Middle Child Syndrome (MCS).

I thought I was being creative (that’s the middle child in me) when I wrote MCS.  Wanting to be thorough, I googled it.  It’s real!  Isn’t that something a middle child would do – make up something that she thought was funny only to find out that somebody else already made it up, probably someone’s older sister?

I’ve looked at middle-child life from both sides now (to quote Joni Mitchell).  From being in the middle to observing it.  My conclusion – it’s not bad.  In fact, it’s quite comfortable.

As a kid I admired my older sister.  I wanted to be like her, so getting her hand-me-downs was great.  When I wanted to play with dolls and my peers made me feel like I was too old for that, I could play with my little sister.  As long as she promised not to tell anyone, I could stay in a child’s world longer and also make Mom happy.  I was never lonely.

There are down sides.  Middle children have probably shared a room most of their life.  Then there’s the baby book – mine is practically empty.  But since I’ve been on both sides I declare, “I forgive you, Mom!  To make you feel better I have left large portions of my third and fourth children’s baby books empty, too.”  (See, I’m still trying to please!)