Marsha, Marsha, Marsha: Here’s to the middle children

I have a strange fondness for those weird and sometimes silly national holidays. Among others, there’s Nutella Day (February 5th — how can you go wrong with a day celebrating spreadable hazelnut goodness?), Margarita Day (another February holiday and perhaps a good way to get through the bleakness that is late winter), and Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th — it’s one of my favorites!).

Today is National Middle Child’s Day. Really.

As child #2 of three kids, I have heard countless jokes about how messed up middle children can be — think Jan Brady in The Brady Bunch. Per the stereotype, we’re supposed to be jealous and resentful of our siblings and have horribly low self-esteem. We act out to get attention. We rail in rage and pain against the natural leadership of the firstborn and the innate charm of the “baby” of the family. Heck, there’s even a syndrome named for us, as if being born second were some sort of disease.

But we get our own national day of recognition — even though not many people have heard of it.

Honestly, I’m not sure how accurate the picture of a typical middle child is. In my case, I’m the only girl, two years younger than one brother and about a year and a half older than the other. It’s not like they were competing with me to be our parents’ favorite daughter, so we all had our own special place in the family structure. My mother is also a middle child, so maybe she knew how to avert the despair and angst I was supposed to feel.

With my own kids, there isn’t a true middle child: my oldest son M is followed by the twins E (a daughter) and C (a son). Since she was born four whole minutes before her brother, technically E is my mid-kid.

The dynamic, though, is completely different, and having twins messes with the typical birth order theory. While my son M still has all the responsibilities and challenges of the eldest (not the least of which was breaking us in as parents), I find that neither of the twins really fits into the mold of baby or middle child. Their identities seem partially derived from the fact that they have a twin sibling. For good or ill, other people often view them as a team. Some days they love it. Some days, well…let’s not talk about those days, shall we?

Perhaps it’s better that I don’t have a true middle child of my own. Then I can claim this day all for myself. And if that isn’t a typical middle child sentiment, I don’t know what is.

Where do you fall in your family’s birth order? Are you a middle child or do you have one as well? Do you think there’s any credence to the dread Middle Child Syndrome?

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About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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20 Responses to Marsha, Marsha, Marsha: Here’s to the middle children

  1. What fun! I’m a middle, too, so now I have an excuse to celebrate! πŸ™‚

  2. rgemom says:

    I’m a middle!!! Yay for us. My middle is our only girl….the Princess.

  3. LynneLynne says:

    I am the oldest child, and I think Middle Child Day is stupid πŸ˜‰ LOL!!!!

  4. Great post Joan. I am the oldest in my family. My brother is in the middle between two sisters. I have four kids of my own and number two and three always claimed the middle spot as their own!!

    • I always wondered how it worked in families of 4 or more — if the middle kids would vie for the “truly misunderstood” title or if they’d try to pawn that off on the other(s). Glad to know that your two mid-kids wanted the title! πŸ™‚

  5. candleowlknits says:

    Greetings, Joan! I comment to claim a stunning feat: I am the first-born AND the middle child in my family. I lived four years as the sole offspring, and then my parents adopted a five year old boy from Russia. A month later my younger sister was born and I found myself catapulted from my position as only child to being the middle child sandwiched between these two. Funny how life works out. And now there’s a holiday for me.

    • That’s amazing! My guess is that the birth order theory folks would have a field day with you! But what a great story. And your parents also went from one to three in a really really short time span — that would be a little daunting for me!

      Happy Middle Child’s Day to you! Wouldn’t it be great if it was customary for the older and younger siblings to heap gifts on us on this very special holiday? πŸ™‚ Am I showing my middle child tendencies too much? πŸ™‚

  6. go Mama O says:

    My sister in law mentioned middle child day as well yesterday! They are 7 of them (I married #3), but #4 gets teased about being the middle child. I am the youngest of 2, so their dynamic is so different but fun!

    • So in big families (with more than 3 kids), do you think that each one gets labelled a different way? So instead of oldest – middle – baby, you might have (for example) oldest – jokester – diplomat – drama child – baby? I have to confess that the big family dynamic is so interesting to me….

      • go Mama O says:

        That could be…otherwise there are too many middle kids! I know my husband stays away from the labels / drama a bit more than the others. They joke about who is the “favorite” child and who earns “points.” Several of them (my husband include) are engineers from different disciplines, so they joke about which type of engineer is better (electrical, mechanical, or material science). It IS funny / nerdy!

        One brother in law and his wife also have twins and one other child, so I wonder if they feel like they have a true “middle child.” The connection between twins is really amazing!

      • That would be interesting to see what your brother-in-law and his wife feel about the twins and their other sibling. That whole twin thing is a tricky area to navigate, I think. They’re so easily grouped together as a unit that, in our family at least, they do everything they can to distinguish themselves as individuals — and they only heading into 4th grade! Heaven help me when they hit high school! πŸ™‚

  7. Im the oldest, no middle child in our family πŸ™‚ But seriously is there a Nutella Day???? That is so funny!!!!

  8. How did I miss Middle Child day??? I’m the middle and I think there are middle child stereotypes I fall into. But I also think I’m the most calm and levelheaded and I’m definitely the peacekeeper. I’ll have to mark this holiday next year so I can celebrate!!!

  9. Pingback: Happy St. Patrick’s Day | the thing about joan…

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