You, my littlest boy. My happy, cheerful soul. You looked so small to me then, your sunny smile dwarfed by your older brother's frame. You seemed so young to me then, tagging along with your big brother's games, the Robin to his Batman, the Anakin to his Obi-Wan.
Sometimes I used to wish that you could be just a little bit older, because then things would be easier, I could do more, be more.
Other times I wished I could freeze time, to always have your little hand reaching for mine, to have you running and throwing yourself into my arms.
That was before. Suddenly, without you having any say, you've graduated.
You look so big to me now. Suddenly your hands, so small compared to mine, have grown. Your words, so cute and innocent before, now somehow seem wiser, more profound. No longer the youngest, your status has changed - from little to middle.
There are some who will say they feel sorry for you. They'll try to tell you who you are, a poor middle child, adrift and forgotten. They'll try to define you - a peacemaker, rebel, attention seeker - just because of what they've decided a middle should be.
They are wrong. They don't know that being the middle is not a curse - it is a blessing. You are the bridge, the old soul, the learner and the teacher, the protected and protector. You teach your brother to be patient, and your sister to be kind. You teach your dad how to be silly, and you teach me, your mom, how to have fun on even the gloomiest of days.
But I don't need to tell you that. You already know. I see it, every time you run around with your brother, and then rush over to sing a song to your sister. Your love and pride in your siblings radiate from you like drops of happiness sprinkled around a room. You know who you are, and what you bring. You have never had any doubt. You defy definition, and watching you grow to define yourself is an honour and a privilege.
Never let anyone tell you that being the middle is anything but a gift. Although you may have gone from little to middle, you are still this family's heart. And this family would not be complete without its heart.
Erin Hetherington is the mother of two boys (7 and 4 and a half) and a baby girl (3 months old) who lives in Ottawa, Ontario. She and her husband juggle life between full-time work, family time, kids’ activities and (most) PTA meetings. A West Coast girl born and bred, she has luckily found a pretty amazing “parent tribe” in her adopted city and tries to carve out some time for the other beautiful things in life – reading, writing, music, and a good laugh over wine or cake.