Dear middle child: You fill a special spot in my heart

To my adventurous middle child, 

My dearest second-born, how I love you so. I know you may at times forget just how special you are to me since your younger brother and older sister require my full attention more than ever these days.

I hope you understand when I tell you, “hold that thought real quick,” is not because I don’t want to hear what you told the boy on the playground or why bees are so important to the Earth, but because I want to sit on the floor, knee to knee, and give you all of my attention. You deserve all of me, every single second of my time. You deserve to come first. 

But my time is constantly being divided between three children—your older sister who needs help with homework or your baby brother who wants to nurse 24/7 or sit on my lap while he plays. You’re so independent, organized, and self-motivated that sometimes I forget that you still want me just as much as your siblings. But know that I still see you, even when you’re not asking for my help.

My feisty girl, you need to know how much I miss snuggling with you on the couch or designing elaborate forts constructed of dining room chairs, sheets, and pillows. I miss playing “family,” where you direct me on what to say and how to move the dolls. Remember when I’d read you the same story night after night? Or all the evenings you asked me to rub your back and “hug you tight” while watching TV? My dear middle child, those moments meant everything to me. They still do. 

Of course, we still get some one-on-one time, and those tight hugs still occur, but they’re more like stolen moments happening in too-short snippets of time sandwiched between nursing or homework sessions. Know that I promise to always sneak in some time just for you. 

Baby girl, my middle child, I want you to know how much I love taking you on walks after the rain to jump in puddles and look for worms. Those strolls are something special between you and me because your sister hates getting dirty and your brother can’t walk yet. So those moments continue to remain just ours. 

My bold girl, you have opened my eyes to so many new things, like how beautiful bugs, snakes, and animals can be. To you, snakes are funny because they get around on their stomachs, and caterpillars are so fun to hold and pet. Before you, I never imagined visiting reptile museums, ordering caterpillars to watch transform into butterflies, or spending a day on a farm taking care of baby goats. Now, I’m this close to welcoming a pet rat into our house because you want one and I see your love for animals. 

Your sister made me a mom, your brother completed our family, but you, my middle child, filled a missing spot in my heart that has always been in the shape of you.

Before you, I did not have anyone who shared my love of sweets, coloring, and dancing. Now I always have you to join me on a walk, a bike ride, or a trip to Starbucks for something sweet. How I savor those moments shared between you and me as we get a chance to reconnect. 

You are my child that can find the fun and upside in every situation. Remember when I took you to a goat farm, and the baby goat started eating your hair? Instead of leaving the pen, you laughed it off and kept your hair away from the offending kid. You’re always my little bright spot in dark times, sharing your optimism with all of us.

Raised as an only child, I never grasped the sibling dynamic. But now I’m getting it. As a middle child, you are your sister’s biggest supporter, trusted confidant, and sometimes her rival. You hold her accountable but let things go with such ease that I wish to tap into your reserve of compassion. And your patience with your little brother rivals my own as you take the time to sit with him and entertain him when I need a break from floor play.

And you’re such a good friend. Your ability to read a room and empathize with others amazes me. If someone is sad, you don’t hesitate to ask them what’s wrong or hug them. If your sister has a difficult time or feels overwhelmed, you know how to lighten the mood and always try to comfort her. You know how to compromise and go with the flow. But sometimes, I worry that you give in to avoid conflict or give up something you wanted simply to please your sister or your parents. I need you to understand that your wants and needs are just as important, and your feelings are validated. I see you trying to keep the peace, my middle child. And I’m here to remind you that you don’t always have to be the one to bend. We’ll work on that together.

My middle child, I see you creating boundaries with me and your dad and your siblings. These days you seek more independence, pushing away my offers to help you put on your boots or get a jacket off a closet shelf, and ask to be allowed to close your door when you need “alone time” from your sister. Or from us. 

But those breaks are fleeting as you quietly walk into your sister’s bedroom and climb on her bed to read side by side. Then, on my luckiest days, you come into my bedroom and hug me before jumping on the bed to play with your iPad while I work. Or you meet me on the couch and climb onto my lap and drape my arms around you. 

Thank you for still wanting to spend time with me, even on those days when I ask you to wait for me to spend time alone with you. 

You and your sister and brother are the bright spots in all my days. Good days are made better when I’m with the three of you, and you three are the rainbow on the gloomiest of days when everything feels so heavy and dark. You three have changed my life—me—forever. Your sister made me a mom, your brother completed our family, but you, my middle child, filled a missing spot in my heart that has always been in the shape of you. You’ve made me more adventurous and shown me how to savor the smallest of things, like eating frozen yogurt before dinner. 

I love your curiosity, the way you always stay true to who you are, and never back down from asking questions. You’re adventurous, intelligent, creative, patient, and so incredibly funny and loving. To me, you will always be my wondrous, brilliant, uniquely you, bold, courageous girl. Not to mention your ability to negotiate “one more candy” or a few more minutes on your iPad. I see you practicing those important skills that you’ll use as an adult. 

My arms will forever be ready for “snuggle time,” and my attention will constantly be prepared to shift to you whenever you need me. Please know that I see you, my little love, even on those days when my eyes are drawn to your brother or sister because they are a little more vocal, or require my immediate attention. I still see you those days you’re not asking for me. I can always sense your mood and feel when you need me. I will forever see you. 

Love you forever and always,


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