Although it’s impossible to get this parenting thing down to perfection; believe it or not, you were in a much better place being the 2nd child, compared to the 1st. Little did I know at the time of your birth that you would also become the middle child…falling into the syndrome that leaves you feeling neglected at times. Squeezed between the firstborn who gets the most privileges and the youngest who gets the most attention, it was probably hard to find your way in the family.
You weren’t immune to my mothering skills and flaws. But you had the benefit of being a girl, which meant I could relate to you much better than you realize.
I oftentimes teetered between understanding your girlish ways and demonstrating impatience. It must have been difficult to know which way I’d go. But being a mom to a girl was a whole new world to me…in many ways, much scarier than raising a son. It forced me to look at my own struggles with being “too much” girl and not enough. It showed the strengths within but it also showed my weaknesses. As a result, I was often quick to point out what you were doing wrong and focused on how I would have done things differently.
At times I didn’t think I had what it takes to be a good mother. I didn’t know what to do when your world was falling apart or your heart was broken to pieces. You probably didn’t get all your emotional needs met. I wonder if I handled your passage into adolescence right. I’m sure that I was unsympathetic at times and didn’t take enough time to really understand you. I probably didn’t trust you enough to make good decisions, which made you feel like you couldn’t win with me.
For every mistake—real or perceived—that I’ve made, I apologize. So often I parented out of fear. But the root of that has always been my love for you. A love that can’t be diminished by any choice or decision you have (or will) make.
My hope is that when I say I’m proud of you, that you believe it. My pride has never been based on your actions or only when you’ve done the right thing. I’m proud of the person you are and the woman you are becoming—which includes your mistakes. Despite how it may have come across, I’ve never expected perfection from you. I hope you know that now.
Thank you middle child, for putting up with my sometimes intense and emotional ways. Being the only girl and stuck between two boys isn’t easy. But you’ve done well. I am a much better person because of you. You have taught me a lot about empathy and trust in God’s ability to move in difficult circumstances. And for that, I am grateful.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE “Dear Firstborn.”