Yes, I’m stuck in the middle with you
And I’m wondering what it is I should do
It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face
Losing control, yeah I’m all over the place-lyrics from Stealers Wheels’ Stuck in the Middle
Being the mom of more then one child, I truly do feel sometimes like I am stuck in the middle of my two kids being pulled in two opposite different directions more often then not.
As much as these two love each other, they still each want me to themselves and don’t want to share leaving me stuck in the middle…
One such instance happened to me recently, when I had to drop Lily off at pre-school at the same time that Emma’s kindergarten ‘Wingo’ was taking place. Bad enough, I had a deadline work related looming, but now I had my mom duties creeping up and each kid needed me in two different places at the same time.
Emma during a kindergarten class party where I wasn’t stuck in the middle to attend…
Normally, I could lean on my mom (grandma) to drop Lily off at school, but she was under the weather and not up to it (flu season people is all I have to say!) and add on top that the day before when I picked Lily up from pre-school, we had an issue that her Frozen Elsa hat went missing.
So, I was on a mission to make sure the teachers would find, as Lily described the missing hat to me, “The case of mystery of the disappearing hat!” (yes she is a tad bit obsessed with Mickey Mouse Club House).
Once the mission at hand was dealt with, I came home and got right down to work, but the whole time my heart was breaking. Trust me, I usually there for most of these types of school activities for Emma, as I am class mom – so I know I shouldn’t feel so guilty, but damn I just felt so raw from the knowledge that I couldn’t be there.
Then, during my quiet time where I was knee deep in work, I began to reflect on times when I felt this stuck in the middle mentality creep up upon me, especially when I got a picture messaged to me of Emma sitting happily smiling with her friends at Wingo by another mom and friend (my heart swelled to see she was indeed happy, but the guilt still was overwhelmingly tremendous on my part).
First Time Was a Charm for Being Stuck in the Moment…
However one thought that crept into my mind actually happened almost 5 years ago (this was the first and one of the most memorable times ever for me that I was stuck in the middle of my two kids), when I was pregnant with Lily, hospitalized for 2nd trimester spotting, which ended up putting me on bed rest for about a month or so afterwards.
But during the hospital stay, which I was pretty much forced by my doctor and husband (kicking and screaming) to indeed be hospitalized to find out the cause of this spotting, all because Emma was only recently a year old and never left her over night – ever (again first time I had to do anything like this to Emma).
It was then, while I was bawling my eyes out to my nurse that I asked, “Is this what it feels like to be stuck in the middle of your two children? I feel like I am caught between a rock and hard place!”
I will never forget what this nurse answered me either, as she was already a parent to three of her own children and told me, “Honey, that is exactly what it is to be a mom to more then one kid. You get stuck in the middle often enough and will get used to it, but still have your moments.”
She was so right.
And this was definitely a moment for me for sure – a memorable (stuck in the middle) moment.
Other moments, which might not be as memorable, but still have left me stuck right in the middle, mostly occur when the girls are fighting over toys and not wanting to share.
In the last month or so, the biggest arguments have been over sharing the one iPad mini Santa brought for them, but any little toy will certainly do and has been more then receptive for these types of squabbles leaving me as you already figured out stuck right in the middle of the melee.
Again these while not the most stuck in the middle earth shattering parenting moments for me, still do as I said leave me caught in right in the middle of the girls.
However, the trick here is how I try my best to say out of the cross-hairs and remain neutral like Switzerland. And yet, even after almost six years of being a mom and almost five of being a mom to two kids, I still haven’t gotten this one completely figured out the stuck in the middle moments as the above recent happenings prove..
And yet in the end, I think even if I do get stuck in the middle of my two girls that it is how I deal with the aftermath.
Such as with the aforementioned missing of Kindergarten Wingo, which I have made a date for the following weekend when work and school doesn’t beckon to either of us to either see a movie or go roller skating – Emma’s choice.
Crisis averted this ‘stuck in the middle’ time out, but trust me as the nurse told me all that time ago, I have gotten used to, but still will have more ‘stuck in the middle’ moments, when I do I will be sure to listen this song below just for added effect…
Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says
That is a great song…and now it’s stuck in my head! 😀
I have one child, so I don’t know what this feels like. I have often wondered, though, when Kidzilla needs so much attention, how I would ever have two and do it right. I have watched other parents struggle with the same thing. Honestly? I don’t know how you manage it, but it sure looks like you do a fine job, Janine!
Thanks for the tune!
Aww, you welcome for the tune, Lisa and trust me when I say I am truly appreciate your kind words here more then you know 😉
I am constantly being pulled in all directions, and you know what? I’m done feeling guilty. I mean, I still do, but I’m not going to let it bother me, or dictate how my day goes. It will never be even distribution of love and attention to all four on any given day. I can only meet the most urgent needs, and be where I am. 🙂
Alison, you said a mouthful here and are truly my hero on this and so much more 😉
All. The. Time. I’ve learned though that the guilt I put on myself is worse than how the kids feel. At least I think! But I’m constantly having to juggle and share who’s turn it is and how I wish I could be everywhere at the same time and that I love them all… But it is so hard and many times I have done crazy things to try to be everywhere at the same time!!!
Leah, I know and I, too, have lost count how many times i have done crazy things to be in more then one place at a time, as well.
Oh, I can only imagine the pull you feel when you have more than one child. I know one day I’ll feel it when we (hopefully) have another child. As hard as it is, just remind yourself what an amazing mom you are and how much you love both your daughters.
Thank you Bev and I am really just trying each and every day. I do hope the girls know that I would do anything I could in my power for them though 😉
Seana Turner says
I had many moments like this with my two girls. You just can’t be fully focused on one child all the time. In the long run, I think it is good for our children to learn to yield to their sibling. It develops some independence, and reminds them of the importance of valuing others more highly than themselves. But sometimes it just seems unfair… I think it is hard on all Moms!!
Seana, I think you are so very right about this and I guess even at this young age kids do need to learn this lesson. Thanks 😉
Kathy Radigan says
Yes! Yes! Yes!!!!! This is one part of mothering more than one child that can be so difficult. I have had three important events to make at the same time and it’s heartbreaking not to be at them all!!! Stuck in the middle again, is a perfect title to a mom of more than one kid! xo
Kathy, I know it is just terrible to have to be in more then one place at once and feel like you are turning down one of your kids for the other. Thank you though for letting me know that yes it isn’t just me, as trust me that day I knew it wasn’t, but still felt awful and definitely a bit alone, too.
I get it, I have been there! With 4 children now I am finally way past the guilt of not being able to be everywhere at once. I have one iron clad rule and it has helped. I will be there when you need me and when it is important. Not because you just want me there or that it would be fun to have me there, but I will always be there when it’s important. That has helped lessen the guilt and get me and the children to focus on the times we should make sure we are a team.
Jen, that is a perfect rule and seriously appreciate you sharing it with me here today 🙂
Celeste @Leapfrog and Lipgloss says
Yes, I certainly know how this feels! Especially, little girls seem to be extra-competitive on who gets Mom’s time and I always am soo stressed to make sure everything works out equally for my two.
Celeste, being a girl mom, I only know girls, but still do agree little girls do get a bit competitive for mom’s attention at least from what I have seen here, too.
Gerry Rafferty….one of my favorite singer…if you ever get the chance, read his short biography online….and oh, by the way, nice post. 🙂 Have a great MOnday. Someone just told me it was a holiday today. LOL Holiday’s don’t happen for self-employed freelance writers, do they?
Now I want to read his biography and going to search online when I can. And thank you so much for the compliments on my article today. So true about writer’s and Kevin just asked me this morning what I would be working on for today while he and the girls are home. I am taking a bit of time though today, but still getting my work done before and after. Happy Monday again 🙂
Diane Roark says
I truly understand too. With 5 kids going in every direct, it is impossible to support everything. I have cried and cried over missing a few baseball or football games. We just cannot be physically everywhere. My worst experiences was when I had Caleb in the hospital for 3 months at birth and his twin brother, Casey, at home. Casey was not allow back at the hospital ICU. I also had Carly who was in kindergarten. I stayed at the hospital all day everyday and miss all the bonding time with Casey and Carly’s activities. I also was extremely torn when Caleb was 7 years old and in the hospital 3 months during Christmas. I was not able to be with my other kids who celebrated Christmas without me. I have had so many times where I have missed out of being with my kids which was beyond my control.
Janine, It never gets easier because we LOVE our kids so much. We want to be with them during the good and difficult times. It still always hurts my heart when I cannot be with them. Casey recently went on a college visit all by himself. It was the 4th one Jerry nor I could go.
Most of my kids are now young adults. 18, 18, 23, 16, and 12. They truly understand and somehow with God’s help turned out great. I sincerely apologize and explain why each time to them and they forgive me. It helps me to hear that they understand and forgive me.
Diane, I can only say thank you to you for your very emotional, but thought provoking comment here today. I can tell you totally get it and then some and honestly appreciate you laying it out there for me, because yes tons of guilt at times here and definitely have shed tears. So, hugs to you and again thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
Robin (Masshole Mommy) says
Yup., all the time. It’s the worst when they get off the bus after school and they both try to talk over each other to tell me about their day. It’s so hard.
Robin, this will so be me next year. Right now, Lily still is in pre-school, so pick her up around 12 or so and Emma doesn’t get off the bus until after 3, but next year all bets are off!
Ginny Marie says
This definitely has happened to me before! There is a picture of me at a Mexican restaurant holding both girls because they both wanted me. Lily was almost 3 and Emmy was 1 month old! It’s an overwhelming feeling, but as they get older they are more able to understand that I can’t do everything. I volunteered at Emmy’s Holiday party, and next month I will volunteer at Lily’s Valentine’s Day party. That makes them both happy!
Totally do the class party volunteering and last year I did one for Emma and one for Lily. This year, Lily’s pre-school doesn’t have parents volunteer for parties and we just went for an after school (evening) Harvest Feast though. But I am co-class mom for Emma’s class, so any parties that need volunteers, myself and the other class mom are on tap first and then other parents can volunteer with us, as well. And yes I have so been the mom with two kids on my lap while trying to eat at a restaurant out, too!
Carrie Groneman says
Oh man, can I relate! With 5 kids, Stan traveling, the kids school activities, family members who were not able to help, so it was just ME I was also ‘stuck in the middle’ and ironically find myself still there! Fun post and have a wonderful Monday. Carrie, A Mother’s Shadow.
I think mom always somehow gets stuck in the middle no matter what age (At least from what you shared). Thanks Carrie and have a wonderful Monday, too 🙂
I haven’t really thought about this since I only have one child. For me the guilt is me time vs her time. Or husband and me time vs. her time. My sister and I were close in age and I don’t actually remember much sibling rivalry or push and pull w/ my mom. It all turns out all right. Hope that helps!
Aww, thanks Liz and even time management here can be an issue. So, yes I can truly relate to that, as well.
Kenya G. Johnson says
I hope I never tugged my mom, but I am sure I did. And I do remember being left out and feeling that my brother’s stuff was more important because he was the baby. I guess that’s a tough call for parents. I deal with being stuck in the middle differently. While I do gets spurts of quiet time that I don’t mind at all when my husband and son go off together to do their own thing, I am often getting worn out taking turns paying them both attention. Like sometimes I will have watched a kid’s movie with Christopher and then turn around and watch an action movie with my husband.
Kenya, you brought up a valid point and yes I also feel like sometimes if I give the kids my attention, I need to give back to Kevin, too. Not that he really complains, but still feel guilty there, too at times.
I think often being stuck in the middle is a hard thing, but when you have three kids, depending on their mood, you can be one-on-one with one and send the other two to play. That doesn’t always work, especially if you have to choose between events. But when I’m home with the two littles, they often want me to themselves. I can’t wait until Bee goes to school.
I am lucky April for in the home, the girls do entertain themselves with each other for the most part when need be, but it is out of the home more for me that things get a bit hairy and tricky, I suppose.
I’m lucky my kiddos all have 6 or more years between them. Knock on wood I missed this dilemma for the most part (and I don’t want to jinx myself either!). Still we do have moments… like the teen wanting to ride roller coasters at the amusement park and the little one being too little to do so. A worse dilemma if there’s only one parent on the trip. 😉
Rosey that is a dilemma especially if there is only one parent. Thanks for weighing and sharing, too 😉
OH, yes!! I have been there more than once:) The good news is that it always evens out and kids are so forgiving and understanding that it really never seems to bother them the way it does us. Hang in there – you are an incredible mom!!!
Kim, coming from you that means a lot as you aremost definitely a wonderful mom!! 😉
Yes, I know the feeling so well. And it starts with pregnancy, I swear. Finding childcare while heading to appointments. Or juggling both.
And then when Des was placed in the NICU for a week and I missed Scarlet something fierce! That was so hard.
I’m glad our problems these days are less severe but they are definitely present! Like when Des’ birthday was the same day as Scarlet’s preschool graduation!!
Tamara, I know I am truly glad the problems and complications are less severe, but still sucks at times, but know you totally do get it!!
Aww that is really tough. I can feel it although I am not there yet because Reiko is my only child. There are times though when I feel stuck in the middle between Reiko and work.. I know I shouldn’t compare because my son is incomparable but sometimes work needs to be done so we could eat, live, and survive. So the guilt is always there everytime I have to leave Reiko.. even when I’m out just to spend time with friends, I do feel guilty too. But I guess every mom will experience that at some point. I don’t even know how to deal with it if we decide to have another kid. I’m hoping all is well on your end. xx
Rea, you are so right about work and definitely don’t think you are wrong in the comparison as even with this work also put me at odds. So trust me work here is also unavoidable at times, even as much as I try to juggle things around, I can’t always either. I hope all is well on your end, too!!
Aww, thanks so much Christy and hope to sleep tonight real good before the school week starts again and work for me, too 🙂
Kristi Campbell says
I don’t have more than one child but can tell you that I get the guilt too – especially when I have to work instead of being at one of Tucker’s school activities. But you’re doing just fine, I promise!!!
Thanks Kristi and I know work definitely puts me at odds from time to time making me more guilty then ever, too!
Amanda @ Growing Up Madison says
OK you’ve totally got that song stuck in my head now . As a mom of 4 I can totally say that I’ve been there and done and still doing that. I have 2 boys that are 4 years apart and I always feel like I’m stuck in the middle with both of them. It does get better though, that much I do know. 🙂 Here’s to a fabulous week!
Aww, thank you for telling me that and wishing you a fabulous week, too 🙂
Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama says
What a fantastic post! I can totally understand this–although I am not split between activities yet I know the days are coming. In the meanwhile I will just remain stuck in between their arguments over toys :/
Thank you so much Nellie and the toy arguments are definitely up there, too here!!
Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says
Oh, Janine! I sooooooo get this! With three, I am stuck in the middle quite frequently and I know that feeling you describe far too well. What I have learned is that, while my kids would like for me to be with them, they understand that I cannot be in three places at once. As long as I divide and conquer so that no one child is neglected repeatedly, they are o.k. and I am too. (But, it still isn’t easy!)
Lisa, I am glad you can relate and making me feel that much better knowing that you have been able to make it work with your three girls and gives me faith tonight. Thanks 🙂
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
Oh my goodness, I could cry reading this. I feel stuck in the middle often!
As a homeschooling mama, I’m teaching my oldest but my youngest wants to play with me, or wants me to read a book. When I decide to give her the attention, my oldest stops working on her work.
Yes, I feel stuck in the middle and you so shared some of my inner feelings. That inner pull… it just aches. I want them both to feel valued and loved– equally. However, i’m constantly questioning if I’ve got the right “mix” of time and attention.
Thanks so much for sharing. I made me feel better to read, identify, and vent! LOL
Wishing you a lovely evening.
Jen, you made my evening and glad you could vent here with me a bit. Really just so nice to know that it is just me and hate this feeling, but again does make me feel less out of control knowing you are going through similar. Wishing you a great night, too now xoxo!!
Marcia @ Menopausal Mother says
I often felt like this with my four kids. I just couldn’t be in all the places at the same time. Something had to give. I’ll admit, it was rough getting used to it after the second child was born, but by the time I had my fourth, I had adapted to it. Hang in there—it will get easier, I promise!
What can I say big huge thank you, Marcia and hugs, too. Hearing this from you does make me believe it will definitely get better – so again thank you always, my friend!!!
Amy Pessolano says
One time I had to rock the baby and my 2 year old (at the time) to sleep at the same time and then I got stuck in the rocking chair holding them both. Or stuck in the bathroom with one child while the other one needs PJ’s and stands in his room screaming and crying because he’s cold- but I can’t leave the kid on the toilet or he’ll run off. Yeah. Fun times. It’s definitely getting easier now though that they are older.
Yes, I have totally had similar situations with my girls, too and I guess if nothing else with age you are so right that it does get abit easier from stuff like this.
Aunt Gloria says
Sounds like you’re doing a good job juggling your time and attention between the girls. Of course, they will never be satisfied! Each wants you all to herself. Oh well, such is life and we all eventually learn our siblings are here to stay! And my guess is that Emma and Lily will be best friends for life! Keep up the good work…..xxoo
Thanks Aunt Gloria and I truly do hope this is true!! xoxo 😉
I definitely know how this feels! As a mom of two, with an age gap, I often feel like I am caught in the middle! Trying to split my time and make sure that they each get enough of me during the day is the hardest part of this job known as motherhood!
Echo, that is exactly it and knew you would get it!!
Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life says
Oh my goodness, I’ve been stuck in the middle many MANY times. Sporting events…sometimes all three kids would have something, and I’d have to pick between the 3 of them. That is the worst. I basically just rotated, but one kid was always stuck with a friend, as my husband and I would split up. It seems like it is always something. Now that my oldest can drive himself back and forth to places, it helps, but we miss a lot more of his stuff, because he just goes on his own.
Michelle, I onow someday I will miss stuff when they do drive and that will make me sad for different reasons.
Oh Janine, I can relate. I live my whole life stuck in the middle (of my four kids).
Allie, I am both sorry, but also glad that you can relate, because as I have said before it is just nice knowing that it isn’t just me and I am truly not alone on this. So, thank you for telling me this today 🙂
Katie | The Surly Housewife says
This is me all.the.time. Just last night, I am planning our next homeschool unit and I am trying to decide whether to go through the alphabet phonetically for my oldest or to improve the handwriting of the youngest. I don’t know how working parents or parents with kids in school do this! I am home all the time and still stuck in the middle. Great post 🙂
So glad I have this song in my head now. It got mmm-bop and Let it go out of my head. Don’t ask 😉
Katie, I don’t homeschool and I give you, on the other hand, tons and tons of credit, because ven trying to do homework with both my girls is a chore and I am always feeling during this time that I am giving one over the other more of my attention, too. And now I got mmm-bop in my though 🙂
Chris Carter says
Oh girl, you KNOW it to be true!!!! It’s a CONSTANT struggle to be stuck in the middle. I have been there and back… starting when Cade was born and I walked Cass out with her grandparents after they came to visit at the hospital. She was SCREAMING AND SOBBING AND REACHING FOR ME and I had to watch my In laws take her away as she kicked and screamed all the way to the car.
It KILLED me. I swear a bit of me died that day. A piece of my heart was torn out. I ached for her…. and celebrated him. Most difficult dichotomy of them all.
Chris, that would have torn my heart out, too. I thank god each day that Emma was so very young and don’t think she really recalls much of this time, as I almost feel the girls being only 16 months apart that she doesn’t even recall a time before Lily, but still back then I cried all day and night missing her as she was truly my baby and my heart. So, totally and truly get it, my friend!!
I find it difficult when my kids don’t agree on activities, or one wants to go home while the other is still having fun, etc. With Gabbie being 5 years older than Simon, there are few things that I find that both of them enjoy. When we do find something we all want to do it’s great!
I can totally imagine and remember when I was a kid with my brother being 6 years younger that we never really had the same interests either. Must have driven my poor mom crazy, too!
Rabia @TheLiebers says
This happens to me all the time. I hate it when all of my kids need me and I can’t be in three places at once. What’s worse, as you said, is when they are fighting with each other and I can’t make all of them happy. It sucks!
Rabia, I hate when they are fighting and I can’t seem to please anyone either. God been there done that!
If my kids are arguing, I try not to side with either one, but I do feel stuck in the middle. It’s tough to stay neutral when I know that one is in the wrong, though. Either way, I’m sure I’m providing much fodder for therapy when they are adults!
Dana, trust me someday some therapist going to have a field day on my behalf, too!!
Tara Newman says
I am fairly certain I am stuck in the middle of the two of mine a few times a day. They now argue with each other in xbox…one picks up the other’s avatar and throws them. Like arguing in real life isn’t bad enough. LOL.
Tara, I am just waiting for the video game fights and sure they aren’t far behind here either!
Oh yes! My kids have 6 years gap and their activities are totally different, it can get overwhelming! My husband and I have a strict schedule when it comes to drop offs and pick ups so it’s hard when one of us gets sick because the other has to cover.
And when they fight, ugh, I just wanna disappear into the ground. LOL
The ground doesn’t even seem to be good enough for me!! But I know god help us when one of us here is sick either, throws all schedules and stuff for a complete loop, too!
The Imp says
Honestly, I’m so often stuck in the middle and stretched in all directions that I feel like Gumby.
Gumby is the perfect analogy and yes couldn’t agree more!
Linda Roy (elleroy was here) says
Yes, for sure, I get pulled in two directions all the time with the boys. They’re 6 years apart, so it started immediately after Miles was born. And when Max played soccer, Miles would always want to run around on the field during the game. I finally had to stay home with him while my husband went to the games!
Linda, yes omg yes!! Emma plays soccer and Kevin actually coaches. Lily tried, but didn’t like it, so I have tried to take Lily to Emma’s games, but she always wants to run onto the field, because Kevin is coaching. And of course I get to hear it during and afterwards, too! So, we could totally shake hands on this.
The Pinterested Parent says
I just have my one girl, so I do not know this feeling. I wished for two, but alas it was not in the cards for me. This was one of the things that I did fear though when we were planning on having another. As mamas we do our best. We suffer from guilt & feelings of inadequacy. All in all, I think we are all doing a heck of a job. You are doing great mama.
Aww, thank you and trust me you know mom guilt very well one kid or not. The only difference with adding one more to the mix is I guess a bit more added guilt to the mix, but still mom guilt is mom guilt no matter which way you slice and dice it. And you too are an amazing mom 😉
YES! I feel this way all the time and it’s soooo hard! Great post…
Kristin, thank you again and I know I am constantly feeling stuck in the middle with my kids. It is just never ending.
catherine gacad says
this post resonates with me because franco was crying tonight and could not be soothed to sleep. he has been sleep-trained and is almost 9 months old, but for some reason, tonight, he cried and cried. i can’t take the crying. i get super stressed out and my heart feels like it is literally going to break into a million pieces and i whined to dean, “this is why i can’t have another kid. i can only take so much!” i can’t even imagine having 2 kids. you and all other mothers who do it, have my deepest admiration.
Catherine, just reading your comment brought me back to the infant days and the girl crying inconsolably. I, too, hated when they cried like this and there wasn’t much I could do to sooth them. The age you described though made me instantly now think teething after going through this twice. Not that I could ever tell you for sure, but still that was oddly where my mind wandered to.