The Perils of Being Third

When you have your first child, everything is new and exciting. The first smile merits a professional photo shoot, every outfit is lovingly pressed and proudly displayed on Facebook (or any available social networking site). Each new milestone is shared with friends, family members, acquaintances and unsuspecting passers-by with great enthusiasm. The first “dada” is met with cheers and whoops from an adoring audience and the first day at school is a full on family affair with doting grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbours present to witness the momentous occasion.

Nothing is too much effort for this child.

* * *

Then number two arrives….

Noticeably fewer newborn photographs adorn the walls and the handful of memories that are captured, lie neglected in that drawer – the one full of photos which never quite make the album. The 1st birthday is a simple gathering with just two close friends and if milestones are noted, it tends to be used as a comparison tool against the older sibling or a marker for any subsequent offspring. You arrive late on the first day at school and hurriedly catch a snapshot of their rear view as they disappear into the classroom. You wander home bemused, silently questioning why on earth there are so many dads at the school gate today.
Life just happens for this child.

* * *

Then along comes number three….

The only evidence you have of the third child ever being a baby, is the one dog-eared picture you still carry around in your handbag – 5 months counts as newborn, right?  The hand-me-down babygros, lovingly stained with 3 year old pureed carrot are so useful for disguising any fresh spillages and pyjama days are all the rage now, anyway.  First words are actually more of a full sentence – “Can I go to bed now please?” And you suddenly wonder who taught him to tell the time as he murmurs “It is past 7 o’clock”.  You begin to question whether there is any need for school (he seems to have taught himself everything he needs to know) but dutifully drop him off at the allotted time. A little wave and a cursory “bye son, have fun” is all that is needed. You float out the door on cloud nine.

This child practically brings himself up! 

Can you relate to this or is your last baby the one that everyone dotes on?  Perhaps you were the third child?  I would love to hear your story….

41 Comments on The Perils of Being Third

  1. Older Mum
    May 19, 2014 at 8:26 am (3 years ago)

    Loved reading this post, and it was a real insight for me being a mother of only one child who gets all the attention and fuss from everyone. But I am the eldest of three and got to see it from a different perspective too and it still fits exactly with what you have just described – my youngest brother (third born) practically brought himself up too ha ha ha, but with a little help from his mummy and big sister (the second born was off doing his thing too!). X

    • Suzanne W
      May 21, 2014 at 8:19 pm (3 years ago)

      I find this whole positioning within the family so interesting – you obviously carried out the stereotypical role of big sister very well :)

  2. Izzie Anderton
    May 19, 2014 at 7:47 am (3 years ago)

    I never had the pleasure of a third baby, but can always remember a friend of mine ‘losing’ baby no 3 after he learnt to crawl. After a thorough search, we found him in the garden. She always joked that he was going to bring himself up as she was too preoccupied with everything else to be a mum! Funny post and oh so true.

    • Suzanne W
      May 19, 2014 at 7:50 am (3 years ago)

      Ha ha that is very funny. I’ve never actually lost him as such…. thankfully he didn’t learn to walk until he was 15 months!

  3. Jay
    May 19, 2014 at 8:05 am (3 years ago)

    Yes I can definitely relate! Number 3 is bringing herself up very well, and she is so streetwise too, she has learnt how to get exactly what she wants; either that or we can’t be bothered to say no – a bit of both I suspect. It’s a standing joke that she went straight from breast milk to fish and chips, not a lot of mashed banana went on!
    Number 2 however is suffering a serious case of middle child syndrome though!

    • Suzanne W
      May 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm (3 years ago)

      Ah we have the same thing going on here – middle child, identity crisis. To be honest, I reckon they have it toughest :(

  4. Emma Martin
    May 19, 2014 at 8:21 am (3 years ago)

    This is so true! My little one has the confidence that neither her brother or sister had. She will talk to anyone, and definitely nothing slips past her! Mind you, I do think the other two were further on developmentally at her age – she was mollycoddled and doted on by them when she was small though, so I think this comes from being looked after a bit too well! Fab post Suz xx

    • Suzanne W
      May 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm (3 years ago)

      My third somehow taught himself to read, do his times tables and everything! Not sure how that happened….x x

  5. Genna Millar
    May 19, 2014 at 8:24 am (3 years ago)

    Ha ha! I have two and often wonder what having a 3rd would be like! We babysat the other day for our niece and I have to say, it was pretty hectic! Although, very awesome. Seriously considering a 3rd…despite the fact it would actually mean one would totally get neglected Ha ha!

    • Suzanne W
      May 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm (3 years ago)

      It’s not all bad, there are some definite advantages to being third….maybe that’s for another post!

  6. Louise Fairweather
    May 19, 2014 at 8:52 am (3 years ago)

    I wouldn’t give little man pureed carrot because of the stains! :-)

  7. Ruth Morrison
    May 19, 2014 at 9:43 am (3 years ago)

    So true! And don’t forget the sterilising things – Baby 1 drops something, everything goes in the steriliser, Baby 2 drops something, everything goes in the dishwasher, Baby 3 drops something, everything abides by the 5 second rule (or wet wipes)

  8. The Brick Castle
    May 19, 2014 at 9:47 am (3 years ago)

    We’ve 7. I actually think no.6 and no.7 are in a fortunate position because at least now everything they do is catalogued in the blog – it’s 2,3,4 and 5 who missed out with the photo’s a bit. It’s not just first steps etc, it’s everything – forever! First trip to town, first gig, first night out, first dates. The oldest one gets the pee ripped out of them far more too – it’s double-edged 😀

  9. Alison Bloomer
    May 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm (3 years ago)

    I am a third and prob explains a lot. I am going to be having a chat later with my mum. How dare she haha? Great post x

  10. Anonymous
    May 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm (3 years ago)

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Vicki Montague
    May 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm (3 years ago)

    So so funny and a good reminder why I really am not going to have three! So true about number 1 and 2 though!

  12. Sweetphi
    May 19, 2014 at 4:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Even though I don’t have kids, I have 3 sisters, and this is totally spot on … the 4th got even more forgotten lol, don’t even know if my mum has that one 5th month old picture anymore, maybe she’s in the background of a picture somewhere? But she’s a little angel. This totally cracked me up!

  13. Em @ snowingindoors
    May 19, 2014 at 5:47 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve only got the two, but this sounds so familiar!!

  14. Rebecca Beesley
    May 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm (3 years ago)

    ha ha – that must ring true in so many households! My brother seriously used to think he was adopted because there were far fewer photos of him than of me (and he was second not third baby!)

  15. Steph @ Sisterhood (and all that)
    May 19, 2014 at 9:56 pm (3 years ago)

    Yep – I’m fourth and would add that we also get away with murder. Clubbing at 14, ears pierced younger, holidayed with friends at 16…parents must’ve given up! I’d like to think I’m more laid-back as a result so it’s not all bad…! X

    May 19, 2014 at 10:07 pm (3 years ago)

    Shamefully, all of this rings true. I probably took 3,000 photos of Isaac in his first year, maybe 500 of Toby and probably only a couple of hundred of Kara. While we’ve taken the least notice of Kara’s milestones, it’s poor Toby who has suffered from middle child syndrome and being ignored – being the younger of two boys and with a younger sister means he is often the one whose personal time has been sacrificed.

    I took him out for coffee 1-on-1 at the weekend and, bless him, he was SO grateful and happy to have a littl edaddy time without one of the others muscling him out of the way. It made me feel great and awful at the same time.

  17. Judith Hurrell
    May 19, 2014 at 10:52 pm (3 years ago)

    This is hilarious! I am only on number two and have already stooped to levels I’d never have dared consider with number one. Great post, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  18. SarahMummy
    May 20, 2014 at 5:34 am (3 years ago)

    Our number three, being the only girl, is the one everyone dotes on (hence why her biggest brother ‘hates’ her). The only time I really remember abandoning her is when my husband had friends over and my eldest coughed until he was sick. Dealing with him (and probably his brother too) was an all hands on deck situation, so we just put the baby on her changing mat. My husband’s friends both only had one child each – older than her, but not as old as my eldest. They looked at us in horror for putting the baby down: ‘you can’t do that!’. Of course we could! She wasn’t going to come to any harm.

  19. Katie @mummydaddyme
    May 20, 2014 at 6:34 pm (3 years ago)

    I really enjoyed this post Suzanne. I have no idea if we will have a third, we thought we were done with two, but there is a little part of me that wonders about this myth! I do definitely think that you get more relaxed each time around- we are definitely more relaxed with LL! x

  20. Claire S
    May 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Love this Suzanne!! Only on number two at the mo, but ALL of it rings true so far!! I wonder what happens to poor number fours?! A wonder they survive, really!

  21. Emma Harris
    May 21, 2014 at 11:25 am (3 years ago)

    Hehe.. Yes can totally relate!! We seem to be so much more mellow with Charlotte as well! :)

  22. Sian PottyMouthedMummy
    May 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm (3 years ago)

    Ha ha I love this. I am still on no1 but my hub and his siblings often joke about this as there is 3 of them and they had VERY different parenting methods! ha ha ha xxx #sharewithme

  23. Jess Paterson
    May 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm (3 years ago)

    This is so true, Suzanne! Love it. People say to me, Oh your baby is so good and I’m like, who now? Oh, yes…the little one. But also I absolutely drink him up as he’s my last and I can’t bear him growing up. I can’t stop writing posts about it! One-track Wry mind. xx

  24. normaleverydaylife
    May 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm (3 years ago)

    I have five, but number 3 is just as you’ve described. He’s also my most easy going, responsible child! I had to laugh at yours asking to go to bed. My third has always had a later bedtime because he’s good and quiet and always tries to keep up with the two oldest. I sometimes forget he’s still up! My last two are twins and I’m always aware of where they are. Consequently, they still have an early bedtime! :) #sharewithme

  25. Sara Murray
    May 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh, yes, this is so true :) Although I do have hundreds of photos of no. 3 as I started blogging! We did in fact leave her behind briefly one day, she can already help herself to food, and cutlery… She just gets on with things :) She runs rings around her brothers, and us! #ShareWithMe

  26. brummymummyof2
    May 21, 2014 at 5:44 pm (3 years ago)

    I want a third so much! But I am seriously worried. You are so right that with the second one he doesn’t get as much attention so god knows what number three would be like. I also worry about the middle one not having a role or two of them ganging up on the other? Mmmmm will give it a bit more time I think. And time to persuade the hub! 😉 #sharewithme xxx

  27. Jenny Ripatti-Taylor
    May 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm (3 years ago)

    You really really couldn’t be more right here. For sure. I am the last of eight children. By the time I came my siblings helped ME raise ME and I was the forgotten child indeed. hahah There are no baby books with my chubby face in them or journals about pregnancies and photos of any kind before I started taking them myself at about 8 years old. hahahaha Great post. I love it. I keep holding on to Missy Moo thinking please don’t grow up so fast you are my last baby. Maybe a third one should be on the cards!!! They seem to get easier the more you have!! lol hahaha I love a big family clearly. Thank you so much for linking up to Share WiIth me. #sharewithme

  28. Kate Thompson
    May 21, 2014 at 8:01 pm (3 years ago)

    Not quite like that here as I was more laid back with my eldest, but then he didn’t have the health issues the others have! #sharewithme

  29. Jo Nicholson
    May 21, 2014 at 8:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post! I’m still on number one but a friend of mine had her 4th a year ago and she has been pretty much looked after by her siblings with mum not worrying at all! I guess by the time you’re onto number 4 you know what you’re doing! xx

  30. Sophie at Franglaise Cooking
    May 22, 2014 at 10:32 am (3 years ago)

    Great post! I am the third child and was definitely left to bring myself up as two years later I was joined by a brother, and three years after that another brother. I suppose this would explain my more relaxed parenting style too. I feel terrible about my second child as child number 1 has a photo in my wallet (admittedly the most recent one is from 4.5 years ago), and photos of her adorn our walls. Child number 2 has no presence in my wallet and has one standard sized photo in a bog standard photo frame on the mantlepiece. But I get over any guilt by telling myself I love them equally…..maybe I just need a visit to Snappy Snaps to prove it!

  31. pixiedusk
    May 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm (3 years ago)

    I only have one child but I think that its really like that when you have a lot of experience beforehand. You are more prepared and though you are doing the same thing it feels like you are just breezing through parenting the 3rd one =)


  32. ghostwritermummy
    May 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Haha this made me smile! I am 5 months away from giving birth to baby number 4 so who knows how that it going to go!
    x x

  33. Emma
    May 24, 2014 at 8:51 am (3 years ago)

    Ha ha, I totally get this :-) My number 3 seems very old for age, she has had to fight to be heard!!

  34. normaleverydaylife
    June 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Suzanne,
    I included this in a post about laughing at parenting that went up on my blog last night. I always enjoy reading what you write!

    June 16, 2014 at 5:04 am (3 years ago)

    Oh dear, I can already see this is on the cards in my little family and no.3 is only four months old!! Popping over from the normal everyday life round up

  36. Spencer Broadley
    December 31, 2014 at 4:39 pm (2 years ago)

    I’ve 2 sons – they are bad enough – but my other half says Im a 3rd son – better ask her!!!!


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