My Sweetest Baby T,
It is your 357th day here, and somehow, you have made it. You are the reason they created the saying, “Kids are Resilient.”
I imagine most second children are the reason they created that phrase.
Since you were about 3 months old, you have been put to bed happily awake with a pacifier. The minute the white noise goes on and the lights go out, you reach for your crib, and all the ‘illegal’ things that we keep inside of it like blankets and stuffed animals. I can’t quite put my finger on whether you are naturally so easygoing, or if it’s a product of your environment. You never got a 20-minute long rocking chair session or 10 renditions of “You are My Sunshine,” sung by yours truly before bed. I ‘toss’ you in your crib wide awake and always have. (And then I spend 80 minutes bringing your 3-year-old brother 22 glasses of water, exterminating wolves and monsters and reading ‘The Grinch’)
One day last week, after I put you to sleep, I went back into your room so I could hold your sleeping self and rock you.
It was the first time I have done that in your entire life.
I instantly started to cry with overwhelming feelings of guilt. You have had a rocking chair in your room since you were born, but I can count on 2 hands the number of times I have actually rocked you in it.
I feel like I still haven’t figured out how to be a “good” Mom to you. You haphazardly are kept alive by my previous experience with your brother. I justify my inadequacies by telling myself that “I worked out the kinks” with Mason, so you are benefiting from that?After all, the oldest child gets your time, and the younger children get your experience, right?
I feel overwhelmed with guilt and sadness when I think about you being a toddler. As you swiftly approach 1 entire year old, I am reminded daily of all the things I feel I missed out on. Besides normal feelings of exhaustion, you were an easy pregnancy that flew by. I never got maternity pictures or took those weekly progress pictures. I think I have 2 total pictures of being pregnant with you. The labor and delivery was easier than most 8-hour work days. You were here in under 6 hours and 30 minutes of pushing. I felt nothing. You arrived here at nearly 9 pounds and wearing 3-month-old clothes. I literally never got “the newborn phase” with you. You slept 8-hours a night by 6 weeks old, and it’s hard to even remember you giving me a sleepless night. (Your brother, on the other hand, still wakes me up once a week!)
I joke that it took Viral Meningitis at 11 days old for you to get some individual attention. And even through that, you ate and slept as if nothing was wrong. I will never forget the nightmare morning that I woke up to find your entire arm swollen 4x the normal size from an IV leak. It took over an hour to get a new IV in, and your arm was scarred and swollen for days. You never even cried. You slept right through it.
You are so very strong. You have no complaints. You wake up quietly babbling to yourself in your crib. You have 4 teeth cutting at once and barely need Tylenol. You have an incredible pain threshold and you bulldoze your way through anything. (I predict you will be the reason for all our incident reports and ER trips)
In the most recent months, you have become much more vocal about just wanting a lap to sit on or an arm to hold you. You are complacent when you have that. You are my sensitive snuggler. All is well in your world when you can watch your brother taunt the dog from a lap on a patio chair while eating fists full of …Cheerios.
Speaking of Cheerios, I’m sorry you exist solely on those, with minimal assistance from milk and pouches.
I’m sorry I have never looked for Pinterest purees or quinoa carrot muffin recipes for you.
I’m sorry that you didn’t have ONE picture on your bare bedroom wall until you were 9 months old.
I’m sorry that the only new clothes you have ever worn were gifts from your Aunt Ashley.
I’m sorry that you have had some sort of cough or runny nose your entire life.
I’m sorry you have never been to a Story time, Mommy and Me class, Gymboree class or a swim lesson.
People warn you that “Two kids changes your world,” or that “Two is so much harder.” I anticipated complete war. The only part I found harder is the guilt I have for my inability to spend more quality time with you. When people ask me how having 2 kids is, or how YOU are as a baby, I am embarrassed that I don’t have anything to difficult to say about you. I find myself trying to make up a story about how you woke up AGAINNNN all night long. But you never have. I have nothing to offer them.
You were made to be a second child, my sweet son. You have flawlessly adapted to all of our needs. You sleep anywhere. You quietly and seriously observe your surroundings. Your favorite activity is to look through the bin of books in the living room, and take them all out and put them all back in 1 at a time. You are the child that makes couples think that 2 kids isn’t too bad, and they could maybe handle just one more.
You have taught me to take care of ME. And among all the feelings of guilt and being overwhelmed, having a second child has managed to make me a more confident Mom. I am more realistic and kinder to myself. As a tenured Mom, I realize there is only so much I can do in a day. While I end each day saying, “I’ll make it up to him tomorrow,” Or “I would never have done this to Mason,” I also find myself saying, “I did my best,” and “I love this kid so much.”
You have taught me to laugh more. I’ve have so many moments in the last year where I could’ve left the situation with high blood pressure and spitting cuss words, but I have learned to adapt. Forced to adapt. I will never forget the time that Mason accidentally peed his pants at the giant park in town. It was our first outing in a few days, and I didn’t want to have to pack everyone up to leave. I improvised, took your 6-month-sized shorts off and put them on your 2-year-old brother. They were skimpy, but he spent the next 2 hours laughing and running. And I have a great picture and story to tell.
You have taught me to adapt. Another day, I had a full cart of warehouse groceries from Costco. It started to torrentially downpour as we finished checking out. I’m talking Florida summer hurricane rain. There was no getting through it. Instead of getting pissed off that my frozen chicken was thawing, we went to the Costco café and bought snacks. You got to try your first bites of pizza, before having any teeth, and your brother was ecstatic to shovel in a slice while we waited out the storm. Everyone who passed us waved and smiled. I could tell they were thinking how lucky I was to have you two boys. In that moment of complete stress, I took a deep breath, annihilated a slice of pepperoni, and felt the same way they did.
You have taught me to ask for help, and take it. Just the other day in the airport bathroom, I was trying to wash my hands, hold you, and keep track of my carry ons. A mother and her daughter saw me struggling and offered to hold you. I immediately handed you over to grab a paper towel and pick up my purse off the nasty bathroom floor. I didn’t even question that they could be kidnappers or planting drugs when I was wasn’t looking. I really needed their help.
I normalize my shortcomings by telling myself that you came into a world with a mom, dad and brother. You will never know life without Mason. You were born to be flexible and adaptable and patient. Simultaneously, Mason will never know what it’s like to be “the easy kid.” He will never know what its like to be “the baby.” He will never know what it’s like to feel the strength and bravery YOU have to try things on your own so young. Try as he may, Mason will never be as flexible or adaptable as you. (as a first born myself, neither will I)
And if that’s what “second child syndrome” is, than consider yourself lucky, Baby T.
I wish I could say this year will be better, but I’m sure I will have many, many more days of guilt and feelings of inadequacy. On the bright side, you will probably know how to pour milk before you can talk.
I hope you always know that unknowingly, my world was incomplete until you came in it.
I love you, my forever baby and my sweetest son.