That the middle child gets ignored is an often-discussed stereotype. And one mom's recent letter about her guilt that stems from her lack of parenting her middle child takes a cue from this very idea.
In a recent Facebook post, Claire Treacy—who blogs at Mammysbrightside and is a mom of three kids ages 3, 5, and 8—wrote an impassioned essay saying that her middle child doesn't always get the attention she deserves.
"Last week child 2 won player of the week at camogie it was all very cute she even got a little trophy," Treacy shared, adding, "I missed it."
Instead, this busy mom was with her younger child at a doctor's appointment. Treacy goes on to explain that she felt tremendous guilt that her son had hurt himself without her knowing (he turned out to be fine) and that she had missed her daughter's sporting event.
"This happens quite frequently, more than I care to admit," Treacy goes on to write. "You see child 2, well, she's pretty much perfect. You would think that's a good thing, I mean it is, it's just in between her sisters ever growing list of after school activities, playdates and general stroppy cow syndrome, and her brothers ability to lose his mind along with copious amounts of sh*t throughout the day."
In other words, this mom's second child just doesn't seem to require as much attention as her siblings do to thrive. "I end up staring at her as she sleeps riddled with guilt, taking in every inch of her perfect, happy go lucky, non sh*t giving little self, promising to be better, for her, I need to be better," Treacy writes.
She goes on to share these deeply-touching words: "But my sweet child 2 please know.... I see you. I see you in the mornings, your big smile as you go with the flow, humming and without complaint completely oblivious to the other two scalds who by 8am have usually been the cause of me cursing under my breath 465,000 times..."
Treacy writes that she sees how her daughter never fights over what's on TV, how she is happy to share, and is always thinking of her brother and sister, and so much more that is beautiful and wonderful about her. It's very heartwarming to read this mom's tribute to her middle child, whom she clearly notices no matter what she has written in her letter!
That being said, and although my kids are the same ages as Treacy's, I still don't really relate to her words. Maybe it's because I feel parenting guilt all around! But in all seriousness, I don't think we as parents can beat ourselves up for our kids just being different, and needing different things from us.
I also hate the middle child stereotype, if I'm being honest. Because in our family of three kids, I feel that it's my oldest child who most often gets overlooked, because, well, she is the most self-sufficient. So while her little sisters need help to get bathed, dressed, and fed, she can take care of those things on her own. I end up spending more one-on-one time with the younger ones just out of necessity, while my firstborn kind of fends for herself.
I also sometimes worry that my little one doesn't get the same attention her older sisters did, as I am busier now, and older, thus, sicker of playing Barbies and ponies and the like.
In the end, we all feel parenting guilt; it's unavoidable.
But then, one of our kids will come home with a hand-drawn picture that says, "You're the best mom in the world." And then I think, maybe I'm not doing so badly after all...
What is your take?