A Letter To My Youngest Child: I'm Sorry

by Wendy Wisner
always be my baby
mediaphotos / iStock

Dear Kid,

Today, after you feel asleep for your nap in my arms, I sat there for a second, squeezing you a little too tight, inhaling your sweet almost-still-a-baby smell, and pressing my cheek against your soft, curly hair.

And I wanted to cry — not just because you are perfect and darling and I love you so — but because I don’t do that enough. I don’t get enough chances to just sit there with you, taking you in, being totally present, and enjoying the essence that is you.

I hesitate to say this, but I have to get it off my chest: I had more time to do that with your big brother. When he was 3, it was just the two of us, and life was just so much slower. Everything revolved around him, and I could give him the kind of attention I so desperately wish I could give you.

You know I love you. And I know you will forgive me before I even say it, but I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that we have such a busy life, that we have to wake up in the morning before you’re done cuddling me, that I have to shove breakfast down your throat, and make you put your clothes on while you’re still playing superheroes and running around naked.

I’m sorry you have to listen to me screaming — begging and pleading with your big brother — to his put his freaking lunch in his backpack for the eightieth time.

I’m sorry about all the yelling and arguing about “big boy” things.

I’m sorry you have to be rushed to school with us every morning. I’m sorry I have to spend half my morning making phone calls, answering work emails, paying bills, and making endless trips to the grocery store.

I’m sorry I have to be a drill sergeant about naptime, and then make you wake up before you are ready, just to rush you back out to pick up your big brother.

I’m sorry that all your clothes are your brother’s hand-me-downs. I’m sorry that half your toys and almost all of your books used to be your brother’s too.

I’m sorry that I have to bribe you with candy sometimes to get you to come with me to pick up your brother (you’re probably not too sorry about the candy though).

I’m sorry your baby book is almost empty.

I’m sorry I have to say, “just a minute,” all the time when you ask me to play with you.

I’m sorry you’ve ever had to witness me helping someone with third-grade math homework.

I’m sorry you’ve had to share me for your whole life.

But I want you to know my heart has plenty of room for both you and your brother.

My heart is full, our lives are full, and that’s just how it should be.

I want you to know I hear all the cute little things you say.

And every time we sit down to paint, read a book, or watch the caterpillars inch their way across the backyard, I’m right there with you, soaking it all in.

It may sometimes seem like everyone around you is bigger, taller, absorbed in more grown-up pursuits, but we get you. We appreciate the wonder and innocence you bring into our lives.

I hope I spend enough time reminding you how amazing you are, how much you make us laugh every day, and the lightness and joy you bring to our family.

I hope you’ll remember how I let you fall asleep in my arms for every nap and every night.

I hope you know how desperately I am holding onto your babyhood because I know how quickly it will be gone.

And I want you to know I will let you grow up, if I must, but whatever happens, you will always, always be my baby.