Yesterday afternoon I had a chance to spend three hours alone with Ruthie, my middle child. It's a very rare occurrence, and I was so thankful for the chance. She loves the pool more than anyone in the family, so I took her there. We played and swam together, and then I sat and read while she went off the diving board over and over.
As the mom of three, I struggle so much with giving each child what he/she needs, individually, while providing what the whole family needs, collectively. Of my three kids, Ruthie is the least demanding of my time and attention. She's quiet by nature, and can easily entertain herself for hours. She doesn't like being the center of attention, and she will often give in to her brother or her sister, in order to avoid conflict. She's a "typical" middle child.
She is connected to me, though, in a way the other two are not. When she was little, she was fiercely independent, but never wanted to leave my side. That might sound paradoxical, but that's exactly how she was. She chose being with me over almost anything else, but while with me, she often wanted to do things her own way and by herself. She is now able to leave me without issue, but her loyalty to me is strong. The thing that I need to remember with her is that she doesn't demand my time, but she needs to know that I'm willing to give it. She seems content to live in the middle of Gregory, her energetic, out-spoken big brother, and Mary, her cute, entertaining little sister. But it's days like yesterday when I know the time spent just with her goes a long way toward making her feel special and loved, and maybe makes life in the middle seem that much more ok.