I don’t love any one of my girls more than the others. I love them all so much it’s almost ridiculous. My oldest daughter was definitely my most difficult newborn. Colic for 3 months, non-stop. My sister used to tell me that I earned my ‘Mommy stripes’ with her. Today, she is the most compliant, well-mannered 12-year-old I know. My youngest daughter was my most challenging toddler. Not mentally as much as physically. She was constantly moving. She’s the one with a scar from stitches on her forehead and burn scars on her hand, to say the least. She is now the one we call the ‘family cheerleader’…the peacemaker, the encourager of the group.
My middle daughter was the easiest newborn known to man, and a pretty calm toddler. She slept 7 hours through the first night home from the hospital, but definitely is my biggest challenge now. Not because she is in need of more discipline, or mean-spirited. She’s not rude and she doesn’t talk back. To the contrary. She is my most compassionate. She tells on herself before anyone has the opportunity, and really wants to please her dad and I. She is a big proponent of what’s fair, and never wants anyone to be left without. We call her the ‘missionary of the family’. Definitely possesses the gift of mercy.
Having said that, she is the most challenging of my children mentally. Ever since my youngest daughter was born, she changed. She is always trying to ‘find’ herself. Always wanting to be, and have things ‘different’ than her sisters. ‘Establishing her identity’ kind of stuff. Feeling the need to always be an individual, no matter what it takes. She is ‘fantasy-minded’, meaning her creative mind sometimes gets her into trouble. For example, I’ll be discussing her Language Arts project with her and I will notice the spaced-out look in her eyes. It is then I realize she hasn’t heard a word I’ve said, and I have to talk to her about focusing, and start all over. She loses things….too often for my taste. Some of her most popular sentences start with, “Now where did I put that ….” She does not have ADD…she just has an incredibly creative mind that gets the better of her at times, and the better of me.
So, here are some of my ‘Middle Child Methods’:
1. Encourage her creative side, while teaching her balance. God made her to be a creative being. Was not God Himself the most creative? Having said that, balance is so important. There is a time and place for everything. Telling her, “This is not the time to be in your own world. I need you to focus right now on what we’re doing, because this is what’s important right now. You can draw your new cake designs when we’re finished with school,” is a pretty popular statement. Am I a mind reader? No. Just some of that ‘Mommy Magic’ that we all possess coming into play!
2. The ‘losing stuff’ part really bugs me. Partly because of a slight OCD issue, partly because I know she needs to get a grip on things now before she is an adult and is constantly losing her car keys. We had a discussion just this morning because she spent the weekend with my sister-in-law, and left half of what she brought at her house. She admitted to me that she goes to ‘La La land’, and forgets stuff. I told her that we can’t live in La La Land. It’s a fun place to visit, but we need to come back to the ‘Land of reality’ so that we can function in the real world. We also discussed how we could make it easier for her to remember all of what she brought. I told her that from now on, we would make a list of all of what she was bringing, so that when it’s time to come home, she can refer to her list and make sure she has everything on it in her bag. She looked relieved when I made that suggestion. It must be frustrating for her, so anything I can train her to do now will only make her life easier in the future. (Keep in mind that when I first found out about all that got left behind, I got mad, told her she wasn’t allowed to spend the night away anymore until she learned to keep up with her stuff. Bad mommy. After cooling down, getting a grip myself, I apologized, and we discussed a solution. Grrrr…I hate bad mommy moments! Oh well, perfection is for the perfect!)
3. When issues come up that have to do with her ‘identity’, I am quick to remind her that she possesses something that no one else in the family has. She is the only one who gets to be a big sister, and a little sister all at once. She gains the benefits of both. She can learn from her older sister, and pass it on to her younger sister all in one day. Her older sister has to ‘learn as she goes’, while the younger sister doesn’t have anyone to pass the 411 on to. I know that makes her feel unique and special. I also make sure she gets plenty of ‘dates’ with her dad. My husband is great with all of my girls, and they all need and get ‘daddy time’, but we make sure that she gets the whole ‘date’ experience as often as we can.
So, there it is. I’m not a perfect mom, but I’m doing my best to raise my girls as three incredible, unique individuals who love God, have great self-esteem, a grip on reality, and a heart full of love for people around them. I want to raise up women of God that know how to ‘make friends and influence people.’ I am excited to experience the return on my investment!
Share your ‘Middle Child Methods’ in the comment section below. We’re all in this together, moms! Let’s share the wealth!