“This was the best day, mommy! THANK YOU! I love Girls’ Day, when can we do it again?”
I have three children. My oldest is a son, my daughter is the middle child, then we have a baby boy. I didn’t have a major preference the gender of the baby, but when we found out our third child would be a boy, I knew one positive of God giving us a little man was that my daughter would be the only girl now that she would be a middle child. I felt like it would help her to have something that made her “special” (even though she has a TON of things that make her special — the gender difference is something that is blatantly obvious to her).
The time with three children has put a lot of pressure on her in ways that are similar, yet somewhat different from some families. First of all, her oldest brother has high functioning autism and ADHD. He is making massive strides and improving, closing that gap between him and his peers, but he still needs accommodations. Then her little brother is still, well, not quite two years old, so he requires a lot of attention if I don’t want him to bring me a cup full of toilet water. He also receives a lot of attention because at his age, he’s doing and saying a lot of cute things (he just started saying duck and mooing like a cow yesterday *heart melts*!). My daughter is often asked to accommodate to both of her brother’s needs in places like restaurants or if we go to the store or really anywhere in public, as there are situations where she is the only one able to “keep it together.” These demands have forced her to grow up a little faster than many kids her age. The vast majority of time, she’s pretty cool with being the one that’s easy to get along with and complies with us, but there are times I have to remind myself that she is only six and I need to cut her a break!
I don’t feel that she acts resentful or that she has middle child syndrome, but I don’t want her to develop those feelings of resentment as she gets older. I want her to feel like she is allowed to be in bad moods sometimes and that she can act her age. I was – and still am – very much a people pleaser, and I think it’s a slippery slope to feel like you always have to “be happy” and tell others yes to everything. I’ve had people tell me all of my life that it seems like I am always in a good mood, and although I am generally a pretty happy person, I can’t deny that there are days when I don’t really feel super happy and I have to see the glass as half full and make it a point to be happy. I also have to remind myself that it is okay to be unhappy too and it’s okay to say no to things. Overall, she’s a naturally happy person like me – she has a lot of the definitive traits of a middle child. I just don’t want her to feel like she has to push any negative feelings into a closet and put on her game face for us 24/7. That isn’t healthy and I can’t do that to her.
The last few months I have worked extra hard to give her more one on one time with me. We recently moved — starting over is hard on everyone and she’s handled it beautifully. She has not dwelled on missing her old friends and school, even though she does. She is SO full of optimism. I have tried to praise her more- tell her not that she is just beautiful, but that she is smart, kind, a loyal friend, witty (the girl is HILARIOUS) and that I’m so thankful she’s my girl and proud of her always. It’s all true! She wants to be able to do a back handspring, so I remind her that working hard to reach her goals and having persistence will take her far. She loves to do a good job on her spelling tests, so I reiterate that reading and practicing her words at home are what it takes to make that happen.
We went out for a Girls Day last week – she and I had a blast! No sibling to share the time with was great for her — but also for me. It allowed me to really listen to her, to look at her and to bask in the time we have together. I’m a sentimental person and the years flying by really gets to me (my babies are growing up!). I feel like the last couple of years (since we had baby #3) have gone by exceptionally quickly. I need alone time with JUST HER to really connect with her, talk with her, answer questions she has and laugh together without the distractions of siblings, making dinner and just LIFE tasks in the way. As she gets older, I want her to feel close to me and that she can confide in me. I want her to be happy and know that she is so loved.
I think as a mom, we tend to feel distracted and maybe even guilty because we are ALWAYS short on time and the list of demands never seems to end. I want to be able to help with the class parties and go on field trips and take kids to practice and take go to concerts – but it’s not always possible to do all of that. Life as a mom can be a never ending cycle of feeling like you’re falling short on energy, failing to have the time/money to take a big trip, getting behind on work projects or whatever it is that you can’t seem to find the time to do. You probably rarely take time for yourself. No matter how much you want to give everything 100 percent, there’s no way to slice your time to make that happen. There is always a load (or four) of laundry waiting to be washed and dirty dishes in the sink. When you feel like you’re failing or don’t have “enough” of something it can really get you down.
The thing to remember is that children really have much lower expectations than we have for ourselves. They don’t care if the house is clean. They just crave your attention. There is one simple and powerful thing you can do to help your kids: carve out time to tell them how happy you are to be their mom and how proud they make you. Show them unconditional love. Put your phone away and set the other distractions aside. Look them in the eye and hug them and let them know how much they mean to you. It takes only a minute of your time, and it means far more to them than any fancy vacation, Jojo Siwa hair bow or new basketball ever could.
“I love you, sister! We will have another day, just you and me, again VERY soon!”
Tags: children growing up