This is the story of a girl, a very special girl, who was born into a family that loves her very much. She is the middle child in a brood of three. On one side of her is her older sibling, whom she looks up to automatically; on the other side, her younger sibling, whom she looks out for naturally. She is fine with her position in the birth order of her siblings; in fact, she never really thinks much about it. It's just the way it is and has always been; she has never known it any other way.
As a child, the girl was high-spirited. She came into this world with a strong will on her own time schedule; her mother had to be patient through a missed due date and a long labor. Perhaps the baby sensed that life outside her mother's womb would be so much different than life in utero. When she was born, she let out a scream to beat all screams in the delivery room, until she was placed in her mother's arms. At that moment, she felt peaceful and sure that she was in good hands, and loved deeply. Her mother brought her home, cared for her, and marveled at how she flourished. So began her charmed life.
The girl and her mother had a special bond with one another that started at her birth, continued through her childhood, and into adolescence. Her mother coddled her constantly when she was a baby, knowing what a precious gift her daughter was to her, to the family, and to the world. As a toddler, the girl was cuter than one can imagine. She would do adorable things, like sit on the floor in the family room and just scream at the top of her lungs, for no apparent reason other than to hear her own voice. The neighbors could hear her, too. As a young child, the girl and her mother played together, read together, and went everywhere together. They were a little team, the two of them. It was a special time in each of their lives; and the mother lived in the moment and felt gratitude for her daughter every moment of every single day.
Time went on and the girl grew up. She started middle school and entered her preteen years; then on into high school as a teenager; then into college as a young adult. All during this time, the girl was searching for her self and her independence as a person in the world. She had grown from an energetic, creative, bright youngster into a gorgeous, intelligent, strong, and capable young woman. Her mother was happy for her success and proud of what a good person she had become.
It was difficult for the mother to let go of her daughter because she loved her so and wanted their special bond to continue as it had when the girl was younger. The mother resisted the temptation to restrain her daughter, and instead, disciplined her fairly and appropriately through her years of development. The girl felt as though she was in the middle, between two existences. She still felt a part of the world in which she lived as a child, but the pull of the new world she was discovering in her adolescence was stronger. The middle was not an easy position to navigate, she was learning. The girl slowly drifted away from her childhood and her connection to her mother.
There were times when the girl would wonder, “Why is my mother so different from me?” The mother, too, would ponder, “How can it be that my daughter is so not like me in any way?” They were now two very different people struggling to maintain a shred of the sweetness they once had together. The mother was trying in every way she knew how. She was wise enough to see that her daughter felt stuck in the middle of love/hate emotions; of draw near/back away behavior; of understanding her mother/refusing to accept the person who is her mother.
One day, the mother, who was intuitive and empathetic about this issue, decided to write a story about the girl whom she adored. As she wrote her thoughts, she began to sense that the words were touching a soft place deep inside of her, stirring her spirit. Suddenly, it occurred to her that she was once that girl in the middle. What a revelation this was to the mother. How elated she was to see more clearly that she and her daughter really did share things in common. Important things that mattered, like being the middle child, born into a loving family, cute as the dickens, matured into a successful young woman, in search of her own life, separate from her mother.
And so goes the story of the Girl in the Middle. This story has no ending, really. The mother/daughter story is universal. There are lengthy books written about this phenomenon, but I think it is so very simple in its commonality amongst the female population. The miracle of birth is just that, a miracle. Giving birth to a daughter is a miracle with poignant implications. Instinctively, we look for likenesses to ourselves in our offspring; more so when, as mothers, we bring daughters into this world. There are many things we have in common with our daughters, and there are many blaring differences. Each of us is created to be unique, one of a kind. When a mother expects more similarities in a daughter for the mere fact that she is a girl, her hopes and dreams may be crushed when she finds out that this is not necessarily true. Every girl must individuate from her mother to some degree. It is a difficult, but necessary, transition for both.
The Girl in the Middle started out as a story about my own cherished daughter and me. Our stories are very different, I thought. The more I wrote about my special girl, however, the more I was stunned to realize how our stories are the same, too. I am the middle child in my own family. I, too, experienced the instinct to loosen the reigns, albeit at a much older age than she. I remember feeling stuck in the middle of two worlds. I am different from my own mother in many ways; we have learned to adapt. It occurred to me that my mother, most certainly, feels the same stress about our relationship.
The moral of the story is: Being the girl in the middle is a role that every female has played; so look for the commonalities with your daughter or your mother, celebrate them, and let go of the tension caused by your differences, if you can. Realize that you do have things in common and that, more importantly, you are bonded for this lifetime and into eternity. Never give up on one another, and remember to always respect one another.
My precious daughter truly is the main character in this story, and she has taken center stage in my life. I hope she knows how special she is to me; I think she does. After reading this, I hope she knows that I understand her role as the Girl in the Middle, because that girl was me, once upon a time. Always, forever, and no matter what, I love you, G. When are you coming home from college? I miss you!