When we found out I was pregnant with our baby boy; our third baby, one of the biggest things that worried me was having a middle child. You hear all the jokes and tales of middle child syndrome! I had no idea if it was true but I knew my youngest daughter was going to go from being the baby, to the middle one. Not the eldest, who kind of always is special in some way, yet not the baby anymore.
I didn’t want her feeling left out, not special, anything other than the amazing little character she is. To be fair, I think we had managed it well. There were of course the odd days when the little man was demanding and I needed to do something with her older sister. I was conscious she had been quiet for a while. On her own for a while and I’d quite often find her playing happily alone. That’s the thing about my middle girl, she is good at playing alone and she can go very quiet. However, on the whole we had a good balance. My eldest was at school 5 days a week and she was at nursery 3. I’d have 2 days at home with her and the little man and I felt she had my time. We’d chat, go into town, see my Mum, play games, read and she’d do her own thing. It worked. Then she would have time with her Dad at the weekend.
I guess it takes things like a pandemic and lockdown to throw a huge spanner in the works. I knew the lockdown would be tough with all three kids home and the different challenges they all bring. I was petrified at first, as knew I was returning to work and couldn’t have the usual support from my Mum. But we have found a new normal and I am surviving the lockdown with the kids and dare I say, even enjoying it some days. You have to, I think and I know I will never get this time with them again.
However, I know things are not the same for my middley. I feel for my her and for that I feel so sorry. I know I’m not giving her the time she was getting before lockdown started. She’s home 24/7 with us all and has lost her friends at nursery and the fun she used to have there. The routine and that stability.
She’s lost the Mum who can give her 1:1 time when her brother naps. She’s lost the Mum who walks and chats to just her, when we head to town or the park. She’s lost the lunches, where it’s just me, her and her brother.
She now has a Mum split in three ways and I know more unfairly split to a crazy baby boy, who has found his legs, discovered the joys of the garden and the rest of the house. He needs supervising all the time, he demands cuddles, snacks and so much time. This Mum is also the teacher, helping the eldest study from home.
This job is no mean feat and I know my eldest needs my time and help. When her baby sister calls me to help her or wants to play, I’m having to say no or in a minute and it makes me so sad. I know my middley is bright and before all this we were working on her phonics, writing and basic maths. I feel I’ve had to slow this down a lot. I know this doesn’t matter; she’s not at school for over a year but I’m sad as she was progressing so well.
I know she’s felt it too. We’ve had more meltdowns, more tantrums. This is settling now but she’s had to get used to being a home, plus having her elder sister with her a lot more and this has been a challenge. They play so well but they fight so well too! They fight for attention. Fight over me, both so strong and demanding.
This special girl is everything to me. Clever, funny, so stuck in her routine, won’t wear a dress, lives in her PJs and joggers. I know we will have more fights with her in the future when we have to get her in school uniform! I’m trying little one. Trying to grab a few minutes with you. Making sure you get the cuddles. Saying yes when I can, when you ask to play and letting you sneak on my knee at dinner time.
I know life won’t be normal for a long time and who knows when we may go back to days, just me, you and your bro. I’m sorry it’s not the same for you right now and I know you know it, even though you’ve done so well.
To my middle child. I’m sorry but if you ever read this in the future, know I love you so much and you will never be second best.
Your time will come again and in the meantime, I’ll keep trying for you, my middle child.