My middle child. My wild child. My absolutely, positively difficult child. 

She was my easiest birth. After going overdue with the two pregnancies before her and laboring for 12+ hours with them, my middle child arrived one day before her due date in a beautiful, natural birth lasting only six hours.

She went on to be a very easy baby, too. A self-soothing queen who would sleep through the night at just a few weeks old. She hit all the milestones early, weaned herself from me without any pain or trouble, and potty trained easily at just two years old. 

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People would tell us, as they like to do when you’re experiencing joy in parenting, that these weren’t necessarily good things. “Easy babies become difficult toddlers,” they would say. I don’t think that’s always true.

But we did learn the meaning of difficult soon enough.

I should have seen it coming when she came into the kitchen one winter morning before she turned three, telling me she didn’t sleep well and needed a coffee. It was all downhill from there.

Still sweet. Healthy and strong. But also wild.

She tests her boundaries, outside the reach of normal boundary testing. We now have four other children to compare it to, so trust me on this.

She does the polar opposite of what I tell her to do most of the time.

She doesn’t listen. Ever.

If you think that’s an exaggeration, I invite you to spend a couple of hours at my house to observe it for yourself.

She gets her siblings riled up beyond belief and makes our house sound like an energetic WWE match on a regular Tuesday night.

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She is the loudest voice heard through the hallways in all of the post-bedtime shenanigans.

She has exited her kindergarten classroom every day since school began by loudly proclaiming, “I. LEARNED. NOTHING!” in front of her teacher and the other parents in the pick-up line.

She is stubborn. So, so stubborn.

She. Never. Finishes. Her. Meals. She sometimes doesn’t even pick at them. She’d rather fend for herself when she feels like eating than sit down and eat a meal that’s been prepared.

I often question where we went wrong in the discipline. While the rest of the kids seem to act right most of the time and have moments of being wild, it sometimes feels like my middle child has only moments of behaving well.

She is untamed.

But being wild and untamed isn’t all bad, crazy stuff.

Let me tell you what else she is:

She is sensitive and compassionate.

She has a tough exterior with melty insides.

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She is sweet and kind.

She gets along well with others.

She is silly with a giggly, infectious laugh.

She’s an old soul. She loves David Bowie and knows all the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

She dances all day. Gets where she’s going in whirls and twirls along the kitchen floor.

She loves to grow things and eat vegetables from her garden. She is selective about picking flowers because she knows they’ll stay beautiful if left in the ground.

She is gentle with animals and babies.

She is brave. She’ll go check out a scene before everyone else to make sure it’s safe.

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She is super athletic. She’s a fast runner, can do a million push-ups, and mastered the monkey bars on her own when she was two. She’s been climbing on playground equipment not meant for her age group since she was a baby.

She has long, wild hair and throws together some of the craziest outfits I’ve ever seen. She also does not care what anyone thinks of said outfits. Hashtag confidence.

She is strong-willed, a natural-born leader.

She loves Jesus and her worship singing might just bring you to tears.

I wouldn’t change a thing about her. If I traded the challenges, I’d lose all the joys of raising such a beautiful and loving child. Sure, she’s difficult sometimes.

But difficult isn’t the worst thing.

She’s my middle child. My wild child. My absolutely, positively beautiful child. Inside and out. Wild and warm. Tender and tough. Salty and sweet.

She is extraordinary and true. 

Previously published on the author’s Instagram

Jheri Jordan

I am a wife and mother of five, raising arrows in Pennsylvania with my hot, hardworking husband. I love Jesus, coffee, plants, and carbs. I can sometimes be overheard yelling things like, "You don't have to ask permission to poop!" Come hang out with me on Instagram @joyful.growing