The day she was born, however. I also simultaneously became the mother of a middle child. And while I’m sure the same argument can be made about having an only child or having 17 children: having a middle child is not for the weak of heart.
In fact, having a middle child is no effing joke.
Every day I make an effort. I fight it. I take time to remember that he’s little, too. That he needs attention, too. That sometimes he needs to feel like the only person in the room, even if he’s not. He’s not little like Elizabeth, not as big and independent as Logan. He’s not the baby nor the oldest. Not able to do everything on his own yet but old enough to call bullshit when he knows you are just trying to keep him entertained so you can spend time with one of his siblings.
Brodie doesn’t go unnoticed. He has a happy life. The first time my friend, Nick, met him he said, ‘I’m pretty sure there is no one more fun to be than Brodie.” And I think he was right. The kid is a lot of fun. He’s carefree in a way his older brother isn’t. He’s sensitive to the quirkiest little things. He’s my sister’s favorite, always has been. Everyone knows it, even Logan. My friend, Adrianne and her mom and sister don’t even try to hide the fact that he’s their favorite, too. There are lots of people in his world who like him best, and while that’s great, I feel guilty most of the time because I want him to feel like we like him best at home.
One day last week, Sister was asleep and Bubba was next door. Brodie sat with me and Jeremy and talked for an hour straight. He was cracking jokes, telling us his dreams. He was a different kid when he was all by himself. And we were actually listening. Not like we do sometimes when we’re distracted and busy. We heard everything he said, we laughed at every punch line, we hung on every four year old word and basked in the beauty of a rare moment with only one child. I thought, ‘how sad is it that I can’t remember the last time he got this?’
But, the reality is, it’s not sad. It just…Is.
He’s got siblings. They all do. They are all learning how a family works and that they are not always the center of the universe. They are learning that sometimes, someone else’s needs outweigh theirs and they don’t always get to do everything everyone else does.
And I have three children. THREE! There is nothing sad about having three children. Broke, maybe. Hard and exhausting and gut wrenchingly guilt inducing but, sad? No way. There is nothing else that I am supposed to be doing with my life right now than being their mother. Dividing my time and money and love and attention. Hitting my pillow at night, praying to God that I’m doing alright with this gargantuan job he’s assigned to me. It’s not sad that he doesn’t get undivided attention every day but, it IS hard. It’s hard on him, hard on me. It’s hard that sometimes the only moments I have all day to spend alone with him are the moments when I’m still getting my bearings.
Before coffee. Before I’m one hundred percent.
He gets up a lot earlier than the other two. He’s patient with me as I caffeinate myself. He cuddles quietly with me while I check my email. He eats breakfast calmly and cleans up after himself. He watches TV while I wake up. I like our mornings. I like that I get that time with him but, the mornings never last long enough and it’s not long before he’s right back in the middle. Too old for a bottle, too young to buckle his own seatbelt. Too big to sit in a booster seat at the table, too little to make his own cereal. Eager to help, limited by his abilities as a four year old.
If I had a dollar for every time I expected too much or too little out of my middle child, we would be able to afford the therapy he’s going to need for a lifetime of misunderstandings.
The great news is, he’s Brodie. Brodie demands attention. From conception, he always has. He won’t let me fail. He won’t let us fail. From conception, he never has. He reminds me every day that he’s special, that his needs deserve to be met. He reminds me that he will not be satisfied with a life spent lost in the shuffle. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that I’ve been entrusted with this little life. I’m glad that he’s been entrusted with it, too. I have to say, he’s doing an amazing job so far.
So, while he didn’t have actual speaking lines in our PSA, his little mug will be on TV right next to his family. He didn’t get to go to science camp this week with Bubba but, he did get the toys all to himself all week. He doesn’t always get me to himself but, hey, I don’t even always get me to myself so, he’ll live. He’ll thrive. He’ll be just fine.
We all will.
Happy Friday, friends.
go. do. be.