I often feel sorry for my third child. So far, her life has been lived in the shadow of her more demanding siblings. She’s always on my hip, in some awkward position, while I try to help her brother or sister. Or in the baby carrier, attempting to sleep while I yell at the older two. And despite my intention of spending a lot of one-on-one time with her during my maternity leave, she had to share much of that time—due to snow days, Christmas break, and a family vacation. In comparison to my first two kids, she is definitely getting short-changed.
But in many ways, she is the luckiest.
My first child had to be the one that I learned on. The one I am still learning on! I thought I was prepared for children, but in reality, I had no idea what I was doing. My son cried more because I didn’t recognize the signals for when he was tired. He was stuck at home all the time with his boring parents who were too scared to take him anywhere. He had and has to do everything first—navigating all these milestones I’ve never experienced as a mom.
While my second has the benefit of any knowledge gained from the first, I still had to learn how to manage more than one child with her. She was forced to grow up more when I had another baby. I asked more of her and she struggled a bit with her changing family status. She is caught in the middle: unable (but wanting) to do things her old brother can, yet also wanting the attention and focus that a baby demands.
But my third…she adores her older siblings and loves watching their antics. I have lots of tricks up my sleeve that I learned with the first two. So despite her having a more difficult temperament, she is still a fairly happy baby. (Unless you put her in the car. Hell hath no fury like that baby in a car.) And as a third child myself, I know that when she is older, she will have some great role models.
In many ways this last baby of mine has the best of both worlds. My poor, lucky third baby.