So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

“I call the backseat!” Pushing my way through the open car door, leaping over the middle seat, I threw myself into the rear-facing third row of our baby blue 1971 station wagon. With less than a second to celebrate my athletic feat, a body landed on top of me.

But, I called it.

“It’s my turn,” my sister declared. “Move!”

A few quick elbows and snarls later, I humbly crawled back to the center row. The bench seat. The dull and ordinary place in the middle. Although, deep down I knew it was her turn.

My little brother, only 13-months younger, sat with his nose pressed against the window adjacent to me, asking hundreds of questions as he gazed out at the world with an insatiable curiosity. My mom patiently explained why the sky was blue and shared how the power lines provided electricity to power the lava lamp in our rec room.

Meanwhile, from the other side, I every-so-often flipped around to glare at the back of my sister’s head. Two years my senior, she was not even looking out the oversized rearview glass. Instead, she focused on the task of completing the Rubrics Cube faster than the last. She had made the front page of the local newspaper, solving it in record time. What a waste of a good view, I mumbled.

Meanwhile, I sat there quietly dreaming of how I was going to make own my mark.

Was there something to the perception of the kid in the middle? I’d heard the stereotypes and birth-order descriptions. Like the oldest is the bossy one and the leader while the youngest is coddled and gets all the attention. Then there’s the poor kid in the middle who often feels overshadowed by the book ends.

Only, despite sometimes losing my preferred seat in the coolest place in the old wagon, I figured out how to turn the middle into the ideal spot.

I mean, I got the benefit of both an older and a younger sib. And in my case, I had a brother and a sister. Most of the times it seemed like a winning position.

Here’s the thing about being a kid in the middle . . . 

I rarely felt left out; instead, I felt like I had more opportunities to try to fit in. When I wanted to do more “grown-up” things, I looked to my older sister. Her ability to solve things taught me how to think analytically and outside the box. The times I wanted to be more of a kid, I opted to hang with my little brother and explore the wonders of childhood. In return, my siblings looked to me like the balance of the in-between.

Having siblings close in age, I had access to other older and younger kids. Through my siblings, I had a greater reach of friends in grades above and below my own. By the time high school rolled around, this became an asset. Whether it was getting advice from an upperclassman or earning the admiration of classmates in the lower grade, my place sandwiched in between siblings felt like a sweet spot.

Being in the middle helped me be brave. I was willing to try new things: riding a bike without training wheels and going off the high dive. Never wanting to be showed-up by my kid brother, I left my comfort zone and emulated the courage of my older sister.

The middle position served as a way to gain a solid foundation. I witnessed my sister navigate certain situations, and I learned from her mistakes, benefiting from her tactics and strategies. Take the way she approached our parents when trying to negotiate earning greater privileges, like a later curfew or getting her driver’s license . . . I observed the dos and do nots and became skilled at presenting a strong case. And when my parents later said yes to my younger brother’s requests for more independence, instead of resenting him, I got to ride on his coattails and tag along.

As an adult, I got to witness my sister becoming a mother and receive all her wisdom. In the middle position, I then got to pay it forward by sharing what I had learned when my brother became a parent.

As a tribe of three, my sibling and I may have possessed some of the typical birth-order traits, but perhaps we viewed those roles as benefits instead of negatives. I felt loved. I felt seen and heard. I didn’t always get my way, but it taught me not to act entitled.

Middle children hold a unique position to mentor the younger sibling while admiring the older one. The middle kids get to try things for themselves without holding the title of the firstborn, testing the waters with the benefit of a safety net.

So, despite not always getting the preferred position in the family Chevy, more often than not being the kid in the middle, I knew someone always had my back. And it turned out to be a pretty good spot.

You may also like:

Siblings Share a Bond For Life

Having Kids Close Together Means They Have Built-in Best Friends For Life

A Tribe Called “Siblings”

Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants, military life, and other things from the heart. Unrelated but not irrelevant... I have a degree in journalism and wrote my first short story in second grade about a walking/talking sponge; I've been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90's hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes). I got hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick butt the next six times I toed the line; I use to cut hair on Melrose Ave. in another life; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged me to share my story. This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Follow my journey on Facebook and my blog!

Summer Goes by Too Fast

In: Kids
Boy lying on bench at park, color photo

To my oldest, As our summer vacation nears an end and we begin school supply shopping, I think about all the things we didn’t get to do together this summer. I instantly feel mom guilt. All the plans I had made? Only half of them done—if that. RELATED: Remember When Summer Lasted Forever? All the books I was going to read to you at bedtime? Only a couple short ones. All the creative art we would do? Maybe just one time. The fact is, I let time slip away from me. I was too focused and anxiety-ridden about work, my...

Keep Reading

Going on Family Vacation with Young Kids is Work That’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom with two young kids on airplane

Our routine will be a mess. Our toddler won’t sleep in a new environment. Our baby needs all of the gear. The flight could be a disaster. I went through a mental checklist of reasons why this kind of family vacation would be hard. It was a pretty convincing list if I’m being honest. I considered throwing a pity party dedicated to the concerns I shoulder as a mother. A few days later I felt a wave of conviction wash over me. I was dreading a trip that was meant to be a blessing to our family. Any kind of...

Keep Reading

I Want To Raise Good Sisters

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four girls sitting on a rock in the forest, color photo

My current dilemma: how to teach four little girls how to be good sisters when I have no idea what I’m doing? I was an only child growing up, and a tomboy at that. It was a lonely, quiet childhood. I remember wishing for a sister, but knowing that with my single mom, it wasn’t going to happen. So, the sister thing is a big mystery to me. I’ve noticed (admittedly with some envy) adult sisters together and their inside jokes, shared history, and language known only to each other. I’ve read about sisters in books. The relationships between the four...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Just Love You, I Like You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy standing at bridge, color photo

My growing child, my heart often aches when I look at how big you have gotten. You aren’t a baby anymore, you’re a whole kid. You are your own person, with your own thoughts and feelings. You have your own friendships, and interests.  Parts of me realize you don’t need me the same, but deep down I know you need me all the same. And I’m realizing, that in all of these changes, my love for you is also a like.  RELATED: Being Your Mom is the Greatest Honor of My Life Because now we can connect in a whole...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergartner, I’ll Always Remember You This Way

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child touch foreheads

The first magical flickers of your strong heartbeat on a black and white screen— the reassuring evidence I needed to know you were gaining strength for this world. My belly grew, and I proudly went shopping for maternity clothes to cover it. I felt the first dances of your little feet, and it reminded me of butterflies taking flight— the movement of a true miracle. I’ll always remember you this way. The sounds of your first cries—music ringing in my ears. You were real, Earth-side, and wanting only to be loved. The softness of your skin, the way you smelled,...

Keep Reading

Having the Tools To Parent a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder Changes Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child playing with water in tube

My heart leaped into my mouth as Soccer Mom, with her matching foldable chairs and ice-cold Gatorade, glared at me. I wanted to explain how hard I tried to be a good mom, to raise a kind human, but I swallowed the words so I could vomit them at my 5-year-old son on the ride home.   Didn’t he know that pushing another child was unacceptable? Hadn’t I taught him to use gentle hands?   RELATED: To the Special Needs Mom Who Sits Alone Despite implementing the parenting books that promised me a new kid by the week’s end, I often wondered...

Keep Reading

There’s No Instruction Manual for These Middle Years

In: Kids
Little girl smiling on porch

As a preschool teacher and a mom, I’ve always felt pretty confident in my parenting from ages birth to 5 years old.  I by no means am perfect, and I silently rejoiced the day my kids could pour their own cereal and turn on Netflix for themselves while I caught some extra sleep. Even though that’s probably not a proud mama moment to celebrate, it’s just the reality of parenting.  We both celebrate and mourn independence as our children need us less. And let’s be honest, oftentimes independence makes our daily lives easier. Yet it is bittersweet.  It feels like...

Keep Reading

I’m Halfway Through Raising Little Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two girls smiling outside

Today I stayed in my car a few minutes more than usual as my kids hopped out onto the hot driveway and ran inside. The cold air conditioning felt amazing after a long day at the local water park; so did the silence. Then it felt odd, so I turned on the radio. The song that started playing hit my soul: “Woah, we’re halfway there/Woah, livin’ on a prayer.” I’m always living on a prayer, but I also noticed we are halfway there. RELATED: Growing Up, You First Then Me Halfway through the year, more than halfway through summer, and...

Keep Reading

Kindergarten is the Start of Letting You Go

In: Kids, Motherhood

We’re physically ready for kindergarten. We’ve got the backpack, the school supplies, the school clothes, and the new shoes. We’ve talked about it all summer. We’ve practiced the skills he will need, and how to open everything inside of a cold lunch box. We’ve talked positively about it and imagined all the friends he will meet and the places he will go, and how kind and caring the teacher will be. We’re physically ready for kindergarten. But here’s a little secret . . . My heart? My heart can’t fully be ready for him to go to kindergarten. I know...

Keep Reading

The Truth about Puddle Jumpers and Toddler Drowning, From a Grieving Mom

In: Kids
Little boy in Puddle Jumper on waterslide

The very last video I have of my 3-year-old son, Levi, is of him bobbing up and down in a Puddle Jumper.  His little legs kicking underwater, his eyes the spitting image of his daddy, and his older sisters, his happy grin, and his little voice saying “Cheese!” This time-stamped video, counting down the precious minutes we had left until he would end up in this very same pool, less than two hours later.  But this time, it was without the Puddle Jumper. I understand the sense of panic building inside you to avoid my story or read it just...

Keep Reading