"Middle child syndrome is the feeling of exclusion by middle children. This effect occurs because the first child is more prone to receiving privileges and responsibilities (by virtue of being the oldest), while the youngest in the family is more likely to receive indulgences."
Any mom that has more than one child is probably faced with the "fairness an equality" dilema that comes with having to split your love (and everything else) with multiple little people. When I was pregnant with Gaby I clearly remember feeling overwhelmed about possibly not being able to love her the same way I loved Olivia; I thought "how could I possibly love another person this much? Would I love her less? How can I be a great mom to TWO people?", but once she was born (as I am sure many mothers have experienced), my heart just bursted and the love immediately multiplied; suddenly I had more than enough love to give not one but two children and all was right in the world.
I experienced similar feelings when I got pregnant with Oliver but that time I had less self doubt and definitely more experience in this "fairness and equality" game... or so I thought! Because somehow I am always falling short and my poor Gaby has fallen victim to the "Middle Child Syndrome" I always dreaded.
Being a middle child myself, I know that being stuck between 2 "favorites" is no easy task; I think the birth order has a lot to do with personalities, preferences and just character in general. Out of the three, Gaby is my most difficult child and while she isn't necessarily problematic or unruly, her personality is definitely the most challenging one mainly because she is stubborn, messy, individualistic, skeptical and even shy. Her life is the one that was impacted the most when Oliver arrived; first she stopped being the "baby" of the family in a matter of days and then as Oliver keeps growing she finds herself being bossed around by her "baby" brother and often outshined by her older sister.
As a mother it's hard to accept that one of my children feels less loved than the others and even harder to realize that it's partly my fault. As much as I try to be "fair and equal", something always fails and more often than not, Gaby is the one that pays the consequences. A few weeks ago she approached me and said "ever since Oliver was born you don't love me as much"; I know it's not true but that's what she feels and it breaks my heart. I know she isn't jealous of him because she is a loving sister and has more patience than I can brag about but "Middle Child Syndrome" is a real thing and while it might not sound like a big deal, it is to Gaby and hence to me too. I know I need to find the time to make her feel special but as I mentioned on a previous post, sometimes I feel my life is consumed by trying to get out of the trenches of toddlerhood and the hardship of puberty that inevitably take up most of my motherly time. And let's not forget that I spend more time alone (husband travels for work more than I'd like him to) than I do with a partner so at times everything seems darker than it is.
I pray to God all the time so that He gives me the wisdom to raise my children right but this time I pray that I can find a way to make Gaby feel how special she is to me, to be able to show her my immense love for her and to light her path to understanding and faith.
So, do you have a middle child? Have you experienced similar things in your family?