Dear Second Child


Dear Second Child,

I wanted to write this letter that is just for you because you don’t always get the attention you deserve. As I sit here holding you in my arms, I try to focus on the weight of your head against my chest and the feel of your little hand on my shoulder, clinging to me, as if you are saying, “Please don’t let me go… This time is for us.”

We don’t get a lot of these moments, just the two of us, because your older sibling requires a great deal of my attention. You can’t understand this now, but someday you will. Right now she is a wildly independent, curious, and fearless toddler. This means that much of my time is spent chasing her, making sure she stays safe and trying to keep her mind engaged and focused so that her boredom doesn’t lead to our entire family dealing with a tantrum or an emergency room visit. But in those times when I’m running after your older sibling, you are left to entertain yourself. 

You seem content enough on your piano playmat, and it is undeniable that you love your jumperoo, but I cannot shake the feeling of guilt when you do not have my undivided attention. She was able to have all of me at one point, and now she and I have that mother-daughter understanding and bond that I always imagined. But where does that leave us, you and me? Will you love me as your older sibling does? Do you feel how much I love you even when I can’t sit and stare at you for hours? Will future-you resent me because I haven’t completed one page in your baby book yet in the six months that you’ve been in our family? Will it bother you that your sister steps in front of you any time I try to take a video of you?

These are some of the questions that send me into a spiral after you are in bed for the night and I realize that I don’t have a memory of just the two of us from that day. This is something I am working on because I know panicking and mom-shaming myself won’t solve anything, but it’s a hard cycle to break. I need to remember to give myself grace and patience as I pivot to being a Mom to two kids and to focus on the positives of you being the second child.

You have a built-in best friend, and I can already see in your eyes just how much you love her. Like when you kick your little feet in the bathtub, splashing her and causing her to shriek with excitement, which then leads to you having the biggest smile and letting out your beautiful belly laugh. You’ll always have someone there to entertain you, teach you, cheer for you, and stick up for you.

You will be able to do some things at an earlier age than your older sibling. This is something that I, the eldest of my siblings, always found to be unjust. I had to go through the pain-staking process of waiting until age 8 to get my ears pierced while my younger sister waltzed right into Claire’s at 6 years old once our mom realized the experience wasn’t as scary as she feared it might be. 

Your parents have some experience, which means you will benefit from us making (hopefully minor) mistakes with your older sibling and learning how to be better parents for you. When I think of it like that, it’s almost as if you will get a better version of me than your sister did, so that counts for something.

While our days are certainly busier, louder, and messier than the first six months of your older sibling’s life, I am comforted that you will never know what life was like without her. Although I do wish I had more pictures of you in your first weeks home from the hospital and more videos of you reaching each milestone, you’ll have someone there to remind you of your earliest accomplishments because she was living them with you.

Please remember that you are unique and loved, even though you will rarely have quiet moments with 100% of my attention.

Love always,