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Middle Mommy Syndrome

I’m going to assume here that pretty much everyone has heard the stereotypes about birth order. You know what I’m talking about here, right? The oldest child is bossy, the youngest child is babied, and the middle child is always left out. But did you know that there’s actually some science behind the stereotype? Alfred Adler, an Australian psychiatrist, was the first person to theorize that birth order is something that affects personality development.   While some of it may be much generalized, I honestly believe that there’s a little truth to the matter. After some reading, here’s what I found out.

The Oldest Child – The oldest child is a natural born leader. They imitate their parents’ behavior and often become bossy when baby number two arrives. They like to take charge and you might even have to remind them they aren’t the parent as they boss around their baby siblings.

The Youngest Child – The youngest child, the baby of the family. Am I right? As parents become more comfortable in their roles, they are often more relaxed in their parenting style. Because of this, the baby of the family might “get away with” more than the siblings who came before. They aren’t held to quite as many responsibilities as the children who came before them and are often characterized as carefree and lighthearted.

The Middle Child – Middle child syndrome… Where to begin?? In an article called “The Middle Child Syndrome,” Heather Montgomery sums it up in a nut shell. “Middle children often feel left out and invisible, a contrast from their older and younger siblings. While older children get the benefits of all of the “firsts” a child accomplishes, younger children benefit from the emotional impact of being the baby of the family, often being spoiled and coddled. Middle children, however, often feel as though they have nothing special that is just ‘theirs.’”

Over the past year, I’m started to realize that there is a certain “birth order” that occurs when it comes to entering motherhood as well. Some of us are born into parenting as working mothers. Others make the decision to stay at home. And then, there are those of us that are strangely somewhere in between.

The Working Mothers – The working mothers are those that have decided to continue pursuing their career dreams while raising children. They’ve enrolled their children in child care and they are confident in their decision to do so. They can manage the demands of their jobs while still attending to the needs of their children. They can send e-mails and schedule appointments, all while pumping breast milk with the shades drawn in their office. They are amazing. They are working towards that idealistic image of “having it all” – a satisfying career, a stable family life, and a successful marriage. Being a working mother is a hell of a lot of hard work and logistics, but can be totally worth effort in the long run.

The Stay-At-Home Mothers – Then, there are the stay-at-home mothers. These women are born to be parents. It comes naturally to them and it’s what they love to do. Many of them put their careers on hold to spend the important early years with their babies before later trying to jumpstart the job search when their kids have all gone off to school. Most of them are outnumbered on a regular basis, managing a small brood of energetic, intelligent, and opinionated children. In their spare time (HAHA), they stay on top of the laundry, the dishes, the sweeping, the mopping, the butt wiping, the bathing, and so on. These women have the patience of saints. Being a stay at home mother is no easy feat, but the precious time spent with your babies is something that can never be replaced.

The Middle Mommies – And then, there are the “somewhere in the middle mommies.” There are work-from home mothers, who are trying to manage a career while caring for their children all at the same time (which is totally incredible, in my opinion. God bless you). There are part-time working mothers who are forced to switch roles from professional to parent every other day. I have come to realize that I have fallen into the middle mommy syndrome over the past year. After leaving my job four months after my son was born, I took on a position caring for two other children 3.5 days a week in order to supplement our family income. I don’t totally relate to the working mothers though, because I guess not everyone considers managing preschool schedules and coordinating nap times a professional “job.” In the same sense, though, I am still required to be at my employers’ house at 8:00am four days a week and I am paid for my services, so I DO actually work, right? Some people might consider me a stay at home mother because I am with my child every day. However, I am busy 30 hours a week in someone else’s home, taking care of three children ranging in age from 18 months – 6 years old. I can’t join Stay-At-Home-Mommy Groups or attend Mommy and Me classes, mostly because three car seats won’t fit in my car and three schedules don’t always coincide. When a stranger asks what I do for a living, I’m never quite sure how to respond. I’m the parenting equivalent of the middle child, suffering from mommy in the middle syndrome, stuck somewhere between career and kids and unsure exactly of where I’m heading.

In the article, “The Middle Child Syndrome,” Heather Montgomery continues by offering some advice to counteract the effects of being the middle child. She recommends making the middle child feel special by planning outings that appeal to their personality. She also mentions the importance of making a special effort to listen to your middle child and to value their opinion. As a Middle Mommy, I think I’ll take that advice. While being a mother and a nanny might not fall into a typical category, I won’t let that diminish the hard work and valuable time I’ve spent with my child (and two other amazing children) over the past year. I will remember to value and to trust my own opinion of the choices that I have made in motherhood and in my career. Most importantly, I will remember to listen to myself – hear my own wants and my own needs – and to simply follow the path that lies ahead, no matter where it may take me.








  1. Timbel Mae Degoma-Pepito says:

    Hi, im a stay at home mama and i love it and so happy with it.
    But i really salute the middle mommies, it sure takes a lot of hard work and time management to still work and take care of your child at the same time. Kudos to you!

    • Thank you!! It’s definitely strange to be somewhere in the middle, but I’m just trying to enjoy every moment right now and stay focused on my goals!

  2. Don’t think that you’re not a working mother. Taking care of other children is not only a hard job, but a very admirable one. But I can understand your predicament – it must feel really bad when other moms don’t take your work seriously.
    TK recently posted…What’s your family’s digital footprint?My Profile

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