Among the many things on my mind as we prepare for the arrival of our second kid are my son’s feelings. Welcoming a new baby to the family is going to be an adjustment for everyone, but the little boy who will suddenly be sharing a house, his toys and his parents’ affection may have it hardest of all. No, my firstborn won’t be changing (many) diapers or getting up to feed his little brother (at least not all the time), but he’s not gonna be the only kid in town anymore, and it won’t always be easy for him.
So I thought I’d take this opportunity, in the final stretch of calm before the storm, to reassure him. Here is a letter to my firstborn:
First things first, Mommy and I are thrilled by how excited you are about the new baby. Sure, it’s a little weird that you refer to him as “our baby,” but any freaky implications of that word choice are for your future therapist to sort out. We can’t wait for you to meet your little brother and to watch you two grow up together as companions, roommates, rivals and, hopefully, even friends.
We can’t wait to see what he brings out in you and how you’re going to learn and grow from the experience of having a sibling, just as your mother and I did with your aunts and uncles.
I’d like to say nothing is going to change. In the sense—the most important sense—that you’re our son and we love you unconditionally (even when we can’t stand you!), nothing will change. But come January, things are going to be different in just about every other way. We’re going to have another baby; you’re going to have a little brother. And there are some things I want you to know.
There’s no need to be nervous. I know you’ve never lived with a baby before. It’s interesting, to say the least, but you can handle it. In fact, we’re counting on your help.
There’s no need to be jealous. I don’t yet know what it will be like to have two children or how I’ll manage my heart, but something tells me it will just get bigger. I do know it’s not possible for Mommy and I to love you any less, no matter how many siblings you acquire (but make no mistake: this will be the only one). Our hearts are just going to have to accommodate you both. I have no doubt that they will. You have no reason to fear that we’ll prefer your brother to you. Even if we do, we’ll never let it show. Besides, if anything, as the firstborn you have a leg up!
There’s no need to be scared. Change is good. Change is inevitable. You’ll no longer be the baby of the family, but you’ll always be our little guy, even when you become a big brother. And we can’t wait for you to take on that role; you’re gonna be great at it. You’re going to learn what it’s like to love someone the way we love you, to be protective of someone the way we’re protective of you, to know someone better than they know themselves, to get irritated with someone for depending on you so much, but also to accept and value that dependence.
You’re going to feel your heart grow the way ours did when you were born.
No matter what happens—no matter how crowded the house gets, no matter how tired Mommy and I get, no matter how much time we have to devote to your baby brother, no matter how many of your toys and clothes we have to give to him, no matter how often he gets to watch a show instead of you, no matter how loud he gets, no matter how loud I get (Daddy is gonna be stressed!)—nothing will ever, even for a second, impact how much your mother and I love you.
The arrival of another baby won’t change the fact that you will always be the center of our lives. It’s going to be challenging, especially at first, but you’re gonna be fine. We all are. There’s no need for you to worry at all (leave that to me).