Dear Middle Child,
I’m sorry that your sister was crying while you were getting your award at the school assembly today. I feel bad that I had to turn my back on you so I could pick her up and tell her, “No, you cannot watch YouTube” while she whimpered, eager to get out of the quietness of the room.
I’m sorry about other things, too:
I’m sorry that your big brother seems to get all the discipline while your little sister claims the spotlight. You deserve the spotlight, too (and sometimes the discipline).
I’m sorry that it’s always noisy when you’re trying to do your homework—and that I’ve got a 20-minute time crunch to help you, after which your hard work will be interrupted by the boisterous presence of your siblings.
I’m sorry that the only “special time” we have together is when I’m driving you to and from your weekend activities. I want you to know that I LOVE those times, and I wish there were more of them.
I’m sorry that the dinner table is a nightly battleground for who can talk the loudest and act the craziest. (Sorry, also, that Daddy and I are always getting mad about that aforementioned craziness. We just want a quiet dinner!)
And I’m sorry about bedtime, when you’re the most open to conversation and when I wish I could talk with you longer, rub your back more, and wrap my arms around you for all the time it takes until you finally close your eyes and drift away. I want to—and I try my best—but your brother and sister need me, too, and some nights I’m just so tired that I just want to drift away, too.
But, Middle Child, here’s what I am NOT sorry for:
I’m not sorry that you have a big brother who lets you bunk in his room when you’re scared at night and who reads his favorite books out loud to you until you decide they’re your favorite books, too.
I’m not sorry that you have a baby sister who adores you, who thinks you are her “prince” when you take her hands and dance around the living room to endless Alexa song requests. I’m not sorry when I see how sweet you are with her, how you encourage her, teach her, and play with her (even when all she wants to play is the make-believe fairy tale stuff that you don’t really like).
I’m not sorry that you have a playmate. A video game ally. A dance partner. A co-conspirator. Someone to catch your throw, to bounce with you on the trampoline, to jump up and down on the couch with you until we (once again) tell you to “Stop jumping on the couch!”
I’m not sorry when I see all three of you racing around the house, a wild herd of sweat and giggles that inevitably ends when one of you falls down and another runs to fetch an ice pack from the freezer.
And… I’m (sad, but) not sorry that… someday… when I’m no longer your everything.. you’ll have two people out there in the world rooting for you. Two people to fall back on when you’re lost or confused or heartbroken. Two people who know you better than anyone.
I’m not sorry you have these two special people to share your childhood with, these two special people who will love you in spite of all the bickering and battles and noise we face today.
I love you, Middle Child. And what I need you to remember is this: While I can’t always give you all of me—you always have all of my heart.
P.S.: To Little Sister and Big Brother: I love you with all of my heart, too! (Because mommy hearts do that.)