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Dear Middle Child, I See You, I Promise

Photograph by Twenty20

From the moment you were born, you were born not just to yourself, but to the world as a sibling.

And since that moment, I know you've lived under your sister's shadow, the one who always gives in, the one who quietly fades back under the bossy big sister, the one who slips into the background when drama takes over the dinner table yet again.

But, to my middle child, I want you to know: I see you, I really do.

I see the way there is strength in your silence, the way you never miss anything, the way your sensitivity makes you able to read every facial expression I have, every bad mood I am faced with. I see the way you hover near us, seeking that attention I know you are desperate for.

I see you, my middle child, even when it seems like I don't.

I see the way you long to hold the peace in the family, the way you soothe your little sister when she's hurt, the way you act as the go-between amongst the squabbling that is a constant in our home.

I see the way you retreat when the world becomes too much, the middle child who needs her own world of solace to survive.

I see the way you you hold your chin up high in defiance, how you've learned that there is no shame in "shy," the way your voice rises higher when you have something to say, because when you have something to say, you have something to say.

And I absolutely love that about you.

You let your sister sleep with a light on even when you'd rather not, you assure me it's fine when they pick somewhere else to eat, you never complain that there is so rarely anything just for you.

We laugh and call you our little cat because of the way you seem to silently sneak up on us, somehow always ending up curled up next to one of us, a constant need for physical touch, your way of connecting even when it seems like you get lost in the shuffle. You sleep more than your siblings, almost like the constant weight of carrying the burden of being the middle is exhausting—sleep your only escape against another day of navigating the world in the murky middle-ness.

I wonder what the world will hold you for and I hope and pray every day that you will find your way within it. Because I see in you a light so bright, it hurts me—endless love for your family, a creativity that soars and a simple pride in yourself that I hope you never lose.

Right now, you have no doubts about yourself and who are you are and your place in our family. Right now, you are content to listen to your sister's demands, occasionally fight back, but to overall go with the flow. You let your sister sleep with a light on even when you'd rather not, you assure me it's fine when they pick somewhere else to eat, you never complain that there is so rarely anything just for you.

But, my dear sweet middle child, I promise that I see you too.

I see you, even when it seems like I am looking everywhere but at you, because you are like a light shining in the midst of all of my children, the glue that holds us all together, that steady smile that is unwavering, the kind words to everyone and, just like your favorite ice cream sandwich, we all know ...

... the middle is always the sweetest part.

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