My Middle Child: You are My Center

If Cristoir and the five year old me were to meet on a playground, we would be wearing matching superhero shirts, sneakers, and baggy sweatpants. We would eat chocolate and pizza for breakfast. We would do our homework first thing after school then dribble soccer balls up and down the hallway till midnight. We would win the lottery and rescue every stray dog and cat. We’d also find a way to domesticate lions because that’s our favorite land animal. For fun, we would take playdoh and smash it into tiny pieces because we know how much mom appreciates our creativity.

We would have a good life.

Cristoir is the middle child. Underestimated. Misunderstood. He’s sandwiched between two siblings and is skilled at the art of compromise. His dark eyes are eager to please as he vies for his parents’ attention. He’s the diplomat of the family.

The Peacemaker.

He is, at the moment, very content with his backyard. He spent dozens of hours making a home for two garden spiders. He ran his dad’s fishing line from the corners of the gazebo until it formed a web. He’s convinced mommy spider will return for her babies. In the meantime, he’s giving the displaced spiders a cozy place to live.

His thoughts turn towards those without shelter often.

He’s asks questions like: Why don’t people have homes? Why don’t people have food? Are they cold when it rains? Do they have blankets? Where are their mommies and daddies?Β  He doesn’t always get answers to his questions. Still, it doesn’t detour him. He’s persistently curious.

How much does bread cost? Milk? Cheese? He’s got the dessert part covered. His Halloween candy has been divided into ten bags. You know, just in case someone gets hungry.

Cristoir’s preoccupation with money, how it’s earned, and unequally distributed, baffles his family.

He loves his baby brother and wishes he could stay small forever. His sister is the kindest and smartest girl in the world. His dad is nothing short of a hero. Cristoir believes his dad swims with the sharks during the day. If he only knew how true this statement was. As for mom, well, she’s just regular old mom. She’s constantly nagging. Forever chasing him to eat soup and wear socks.

Deep down inside, Cristoir knows there’s more to his mother’s love than bone broth. Though, there are times, he thinks she doesn’t notice him.

C

 

I know you think mama doesn’t always see you. When I nudge you out the door for school, grumble as I lace up your cleats, hush you while baby sleeps . . . all those moments I’m not present. For that, I am sorry.

The truth is, I do see you.

I’ve watched you, my son. Countless times I’ve sat in awe of you. Tears streaming down my face as the past, present, and future flash before me. I can’t help it. I love the the little person you are. I dream of the big man you will become.

The other night when you were up later than you should’ve been, when we were on the couch staring up at Mr. Moon, I watched your mouth move. You whispered to Heaven. You didn’t want me to hear your prayer so I pretended not to listen.

But I heard you.

I saw you, my son.

Do you think birth order shapes a child’s personality? Is it challenging to give your kids individual attention?

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45 thoughts on “My Middle Child: You are My Center

    1. Wonderful idea, Diane! I usually keep my blog posts hidden from my children’s eyes. But, by age 16, my son will be old enough to read this. Hopefully, he’ll appreciate my words.

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  1. I am the oldest of two and though there were almost three years between us there was a lot of overlapping activities that were always competing. I guess my parents had to make a lot of decisions on who took priority over what depending on the activity.

    M is an only, so that was never an issue. I see the birth order thing in his cousins though for sure.

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    1. I’m the oldest child, too. I never really paid attention to birth order growing up. But now that I have three kids, I feel stuck in the middle. Literally, pulled in all sorts of directions.

      M is a lucky boy! He’s got his mom’s attention all to himself. You two must be very close.

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  2. As a middle child, I loved this!! I may be speaking for myself, but it can be hard growing up in the middle never feeling like you quite have the attention you craved. You can’t really blame your parents, the older sub naturally has that first child shine, the younger – baby needs. How lovely is it then to see a mom specifically call out how wonderful a sandwiched child can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allie, you probably could’ve written this post. Sounds like you understand a mother’s dilemma when it comes to dividing attention. When it comes to dividing love between siblings.
      At the same time, I don’t want my child to think I’m overcompensating for anything. As if being a middle child is a negative thing.

      Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King were all “middles.” And they were determined to change the world.

      I may have to steal your “sandwiched child” expression!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you and your siblings could laugh about these things now. Sometimes sibling rivalry can end in bitter (unresolved) feuds. It’s challenging as a mom to try and keep the peace in your home.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience!

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  3. What a lovely post and what a wonderful tribute to your middle child. He sounds so thoughtful and sweet. I’m a middle child myself, and I suppose it did shape my personality. For example, I’m a conflict avoider. I don’t have a middle child, just an oldest and a youngest. In some ways their birth order is consistent with the stereotypes, but in other ways it isn’t. Luckily, they’re both pretty unique. πŸ™‚

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    1. Carrie, it’s interesting how you point out that you’re a “conflict avoider.” My son is the same way. He’s always helping me put out the fires. Only he’s vocal about it, he’s a total extrovert. Strange, huh?
      Perhaps I’ve fallen prey to birth order stereotypes. I thought MOST “middles” were extroverts. Clearly, not in your case! πŸ˜‰

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  4. That was absolutely beautiful. I don’t know you, but your love for your child had shone through here in a way that has touched me personally. He is lucky to have you as a mom, and lucky that you recognize his feelings so adeptly.

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  5. What a beautiful post! He is adorable and sounds amazing. I find it difficult to give enough individual attention to my older one. Right now it’s mostly because a 3-year-old requires more attention than a 7-year-old. I’m trying to be mindful of that and create time with him too, but it’s hard. Sometimes it seems like there just isn’t enough time to go around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Danielle, I was thinking about you the other day! How are you and your babies surviving the cold temps? Is it snowing where you live?

      As for dividing attention, it’s a NEVER ending task. Most days, I fail. Like you, I just want my kids to know they are loved. Equally loved. Of course, that’s not always possible when there’s only 1 of you and two or three of them. The numbers are against us, right?

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  6. This is so beautiful it made me cry. You certainly see him, and what a great little guy he is! A strong sense of equality, love of nature and sensitivity for life’s nuances. Such a gift you have!

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    1. Tiny, good to see you! Thanks for reading through this post. It’s longer than usual. I don’t always write mushy things on my blog but my little guy has been weighing on my heart.
      And yes, he has a strong sense equality. On that note, he’d be blown away by your photos from Africa.

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    1. Ha! I know the feeling. I had to peel baby off my lap at 6:00am this morning just so I could hit the “publish” button.
      Can’t wait to catch up later my beautiful friend! Also, need to make my way over to your place.

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    1. Oh, Anna, the dynamics definitely change. Things are drastically different in our home. It’s a bit crazier and more drama filled, but there’s love so much love. And, believe it or not, our third baby is the glue that binds us together.
      Have a great weekend my friend. And stay warm!!

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  7. Anka, this is such a beautiful post. Goodness! I understand that feeling of a child not being seen or heard. I had such a time of it when my I had my second child. His older brother had to adapt, and me, too. You have three and it must be so much harder.

    As for growing up, I was the fifth of six. I’ve always been unsure what this means for me exactly, of where I fall. Younger, middle?? They say birth order makes a difference. Who knows. I think it’s a combination of things. My oldest sister was definitely a rebel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy, thanks for your kind words and for retweeting my post. It means a lot coming from a seasoned writer.
      As for birth order, were you sandwiched between two sisters? Because that would make you a middle. Or, were you the only girl?

      If there’s a huge gap between child #4 and #5, studies show that would make the 5th child a firstborn. Starting the whole process over again. Fascinating stuff about birth order personalities.

      Enjoy your weekend and the much needed rain!!

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  8. Yes and yes. Sometimes in the rush of getting things done we do fall in to the habit of giving attention to the demanding child while quietly appreciating the quiet child. This was a beautiful post. And none of us get through parenthood without making mistakes, wishing it to hurry up, wishing it to slow down, and stopping….and realizing what each needs at different times. I bet your Center Child feels very loved. Especially after you read this to him. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colleen, I know you’ve been there. You may even still be going through the tug-of-war because a mother’s job is NEVER done.
      And please forgive me for asking, but did you have multiple to children to chase after in the early child phase? Or, was it just two?
      Sorry, I have mommy brain and can’t remember.

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      1. I gave birth to two children. And had two step children in the home. I married their dad when they were around nine and ten. And you are absolutely right, the mom job is never done. I write this as I am on my way to my daughter’s to babysit for her while she tries to take on some hours for holiday spending money. And sometimes, still, when I do something with or for one child, I fear how the other might feel. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s great the self-awareness to be enquiring as to how much bread, milk, and cheese costs whilst trying to work out the world. I remember asking my Mum, as a child of I don’t know how old, whether we were poor or rich to be told we were something in the middle.

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    1. I like your mom’s answer, FM. It’s funny because I tell my kids something very similar: I never want to be TOO rich that I’m governed by pride. Or, too poor that I curse God.

      Have a wonderful weekend!!

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  10. You have a huge heart, and you’ve passed it to your oldest son. He has so much care and consideration for those around him, and it is moving to read about what you see in him. I hope that is a feature of his heart that continues to grow, continues to be vulnerable, because those that love in the way he obviously does touch, change, so many lives. What pride you have in him, Anka. It spills through the words you write about him. I loved reading this, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this glimpse of your sweet child!

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    1. I’ve missed you!! I tried leaving comments on your last few posts and for some reason they don’t post?? I’ll try again.
      Anyway, thanks for reading and encouraging me to foster my son’s vulnerability. At the end of the day, I just want my kids to know they are loved and to take that love and multiply it. I want them to be “otherly.”
      Wishing you and your three men a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. And please try squeezing in a nap when no one is looking!

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      1. Oh no! I’ll look into it to see if it’s something on my end.
        There is no doubt in my mind that your children know they are loved.
        Thank you, I wish you and your lovely family one as well! A nap, ahh, what a dream. πŸ˜‰

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  11. Oh my friend… what a handsome little man you’re raising!!

    Our children are in the same order… girl… boy… boy. Isaac, my middle, is truly a mama’s boy (in every good way) I am it for him, his snuggle place, reading place and crying place. He has a sensitive heart protected by the rough and tough outwards appearance of a boy’s body. He too is misunderstood… I love him.

    But just like your sweet son, mine is in a place where he doesn’t get as much of my good time as I’d wish. Schooling my Oldest, making sure my Youngest doesn’t kill himself free falling off the couch… these things leave little time for warm snuggles… but I do my best.

    As for you, my dear friend, I know you do you best for you love him… and the man your son will become will have no doubt of that!!

    SIDE-NOTE: I love how literal children are… I’m sure there are days your husband would rather be swimming with sharks πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, I can’t believe we have the same kid gender order. I feel for you my sweet friend. I know exactly what you mean by trying to keep baby #3 out of harms way. Seems like the only thing I have time for is keeping him fed and dry.
      As for my husband and sharks, you’re absolutely right. He’d much rather swim in the ocean than have to deal with other attorneys in the office.
      Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving. Get rest and enjoy those leftovers. I plan on eating pumpkin pie for the next seven days.

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    1. Koji, so good to hear from you!!
      Sorry about the delayed response. If you haven’t already noticed, I’m on a temporary blogging hiatus. Again.
      In any case, you make an excellent point about recording one’s feelings. There’s a certain permanence about blogging. Perhaps, that’s why blogging is both frightening and satisfying.
      Wishing you and your family a wonderful and healthy Holiday.

      All the BEST!!

      Liked by 1 person

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