The Essential Middle Piece

Having three boys is an adventure. They keep us on our toes, they bring meaning to our lives, and each are loved and cherished by us in their own special way. I do ask myself all the time though how is it possible three boys who are growing up in the same house and are exposed to the same life experiences be so different? From food choices, to attire, to interests, to how they navigate the world . . . all different. It can be both awesome and infuriating at times, but ultimately just mind-blowing. Could this simply boil down to birth order and where they fit in our family puzzle?

There are many theories, stereotypes, and even arguments that exist in relation to this exact topic. When I sat down to google it, in .51 seconds my search titled, “birth order stereotypes” yielded 738,000 results . . . wow. That’s crazy! There’s the firstborn: ambitious, responsible, and a leader. The baby generally a free spirit, a bit of a risk taker, and a charmer. But what about that laidback, compromising, and social middle child that somehow found his own syndrome along the way? He is who I want to talk about right now.

Alex, my beautiful brown-haired blue-eyed middle guy, was born on a cold day in January via planned C-section. Truthfully, because his birth was the easiest and doesn’t have a dramatic story attached, it’s the least memorable. He’s ten and a half now and it’s true what they say, the memories do begin to fade. There is little I recall about our hospital stay, and off the top of my head I actually can’t tell you what time he was born. Oh, and wait . . . what’s his birthweight again? This information is somewhere, but geez! What kind of mama am I? Insert answer: the honest kind.

When I analyze Alex’s life thus far, I can’t help but wonder if someday he will laugh (or cry!) with his friends about having, “Middle Child Syndrome.” Assuming all the variables remain the same, I can tell you from experience natural things will happen in your home due to birth order. We evolve as parents based on how many seats get added to the table, which will influence how we parent. This reality in turn molds the flock. These generalizations may not be true for every parent and kid in every family, but odds are, we all land in similar shades of the personality pie chart.   

Sometimes Alex’s details do get mixed up with the everyone else’s. He tends to sit back and blend in. The fact is he’s a pretty easy kid voted by me most likely to, “go with the flow.”

There is an accepted eye roll followed by a chuckle that happens between moms when we discuss our middles. We just get it. We profess they can get lost in the shuffle, and maybe they don’t get the attention our first and last kiddos did (or do). This is of course not deliberate. They’ve always had to share us, their siblings, and really everything and everyone else in their lives. It’s never ending for them. When you think about it, it really isn’t fair.

But to all our middle descendants out there, we celebrate you, not just today, but every day!

You see, middles possess an amazing spot in the family. Us parents learned a thing or two the first time around, and these smart kiddos are reaping the benefits. I look at Alex and know as soon as it was an option he soared with independence, and as experienced parents, we were ready to give it to him. He learned from his older brother through his accomplishments and defeats, but found his own way, his way that is clearly getting passed down to his younger brother.

Alex, like many other middles, is an under-the-radar stand-out. He is kind, helpful, and empathetic. He doesn’t do life the way everyone expects. Rather, most times will do the opposite of what is suggested, down to his mismatched socks and crazy colored outfits. Some may call that a creative thinker, but to him, it’s just normal. He sees the big picture in a way a lot of kids just don’t, sitting back quiet and anticipating what will happen next. He carries this with him in school, playing soccer, with his closest friends, and at home, it’s just how he exists.

In many ways, he is my golden child. I ask him to do things simply because I know he will. You see, middle children aren’t catered to the way the first is, and they don’t really whine like the baby. They will simply get it done. Argue if you want, but I know it to be truth.

Without my Alex and all the middles out there the world would be less funny, more rigid, not as kind, and certainly more close-minded. As parents, we do feel the guilt in knowing we’re unintentionally taking advantage of that easygoing and laidback nature that derives from them always having to steer through the center of the pack, but that is the exact nature that keeps us working like a well-oiled-machine (or at least attempting to!) We need those middles to bring balance and harmony to the chaotic pendulum of family life. Heck, even our cat Bowser would be lost without Alex!

So today at Detroit Moms Blog, we recognize Middle Child Day. Our middles really are the glue that holds us all together. If they’re piece was missing, the image that is created simply doesn’t make sense.

To my Alex and all the other middle pieces out there, we pay tribute to you.

We need you. We admire you. We adore you. We applaud you. But most of all, we love you.

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