04/03/2015 06:00 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Middle Child -- Who's With Me?

Ricklefs, party of seven, your table is ready. When our crew rolls in for dinner somewhere, waiters and waitresses legitimately avoid taking responsibility.

They fill up someone else's water, they bring another table more queso, and they shake with fear at having to serve the family that will likely split entrees, only order water, and leave the table looking like a tornado just ripped through it.

A party of seven. Never a dull moment.


I'll admit on the front end of this post, that there may be scientific and psychiatric evidence that directly supports my theories here. Or it may fly completely in the face of what I'm about to say.

But in either case, it's validated with our school of hard knocks and sleepless nights.

Seven distinct personalities exist within our party of seven. Sure there are some physical resemblances, some emotional similarities. But we are each unique.

Specifically with our kids, I'm starting to buy into the whole birth order thing a little bit. You know, the one that says the first born is responsible, driven, protective. The second is the wild, daring, kick ass and take names type. The third is random, spontaneous, fun. Not much literature on the fourth or fifth because most sane families stop way before that.

But whether it's three kids, five or some bigger odd number, there's always a middle number.

The middle child. The beauty of a huge family is amazing, but there are certainly many challenges.


Rowan Hope is our third daughter and falls in the middle of the pack. Two above, two below. Her oldest sister has all the makeup of a firstborn; she published a book at 10 for example. Her second oldest sister, Addi, is a stud. Tough, great athlete, smart. She'll change the world in huge ways one day.

Then there's Rowan. The kind, loving, trusting, cuddling, hilarious, but often treading water middle child. Rowan is the first to rise and can be found nearly every morning on the couch, book in hand, blanket on her lap and the space heater running full blast.

She's an old soul. When she was barely two years old, she walked with a crooked back and a crackly voice and said, "I an old lady, I an old lady." A description that fits today at seven like it did at two.

Rowan is big enough to run with the big kids yet still little and innocent enough to mother the little kids. She's mature enough to know she wants to fit in yet goofy enough to not give a crap.

She's perfectly in the middle.

A few weeks ago, we were on vacation in Florida. It had been a long day, as long as a vacation day can be I guess. We had filled up the day with sun, sand and tons of memories. As many nights often end, we had to convince the troops that they actually needed sleep. That their bodies actually did need rest.

It was at that point where Rowan, complete with frizzy hair and a blanket tied around her neck like a superhero, commanded the room's attention.

It was 10ish by now, and she proclaimed boldly that since we were on vacation, it was time for the kids to rally around her and pull an all-nighter. Movies, candy, chaos, no sleep.

She captivated the room with her story, her persuasiveness, her humor.

In a manner that would have made William Wallace proud, she dropped the mic on her call to rebellion by shouting, "Who's with me?!" With her fist straight in the air, cape on her back, hair a mess.

We erupted in laughter. We delighted in her story. We showered her with attention.

Because many days, she doesn't get it. Many days she flutters between the older two and the younger two. Many days she is more nomadic than settled.

At times, we feel like we are letting her slip through the cracks or get overlooked. Not intentionally of course, but as a result of our large family and her ability to fly under the radar. She's so good at playing the middle after all.

"Who's with me?," Rowan questioned.

We are sweet girl. We are with you. You have a place and a purpose in this party of seven.