A Letter To My Second Child
I see you. Out of the corner of my eye, I see you roll over. As I am picking up fruit from the floor and chasing after your older brother, I think to myself, “Great job! I’m so proud of you!” But did I say it out loud? Did I actually say the words to you?
I just laid you down on your activity mat for the second time today. My intention was to lie there with you and talk to you about the shapes and colors you are seeing. But your brother has disappeared, and it is oddly quiet. So I go and check on him. Sure enough, he has dumped out his puff snacks all over the floor. I proceed with picking them up and can distinctly hear you cooing in the background, but I’m distracted and trying to teach your big brother the importance of cleaning up when he spills.
Your coos turn to cries, and unfortunately, you are left waiting on me to comfort you as I get your brother set up with a new activity. I mindlessly pick you up, put a pacifier in your mouth, and start naming the animals that your brother is placing in his puzzle. I check the clock and notice it is time for your first nap. I quickly take you to your room, change your diaper, place you down in your crib, and scoop up your brother on my way out. As I walk down the hall, I think, “Did I even say sweet dreams or I love you?” My thoughts are interrupted with me tripping over a teddy bear that was left on the floor, and suddenly, I am on to the next “to do” on what feels like my never-ending list.
Throughout the day when I nurse you, I’m catching up on emails and telling your big brother to quit climbing on the stairs or to stop hammering on the wall. With you, there are no quiet, cuddly nursing sessions filled with us just gazing at each other. We are all about business.
As I’m making dinner, I am scattered, trying to prepare a meal and wondering when your father will walk through the door. I am tired, and while I know he is too, I’m looking forward to having a partner to tag me out if only for a brief moment. You are currently sitting in your exersaucer, playing quietly by yourself. I check on you, show you how to press the buttons, and then hastily return to demonstrating the proper use of a fork to your brother.
It dawns on me that when it was just me and your big brother, I would be singing to him and dancing around while I put together our food for the evening—engaging, making eye contact, and babbling about how I was stirring the food in the skillet. I don’t do that with you, my second child, as I am distracted with so many other things. I begin to feel like I am failing on my motherly duties. That starts a whole new train of thought that results in me saying a brief prayer—pleading to God that you would be just as smart and skilled as your older sibling, that my lack of one-on-one time with you wouldn’t permanently damage you in some emotional way.
There he is. Your dad walks through the door, and I let out a sigh of relief. He gives me a brief kiss, says hello to your brother, and then finds his way over to you. I watch from the sidelines as you beam with joy. Dimples showing, grinning ear to ear. My heart melts, and I’m grateful to have a husband who takes the time to show his love toward his family. Suddenly, my joy turns to sadness, because I wonder if I have made you smile today. I recall tickling your big brother and hearing his giggles as I pretended to “steal his nose.” But did I make you laugh today?
We rush through the evening, putting toys back in to their baskets, washing off dishes, getting ready for bath time. I lay you down on the floor as I scramble to fill a sippy cup with milk, grab a pacifier, and pick out a pair of footed pajamas. I swiftly dress you in your jammies, turn on your fan, then head to brother’s room so that we can read a few books before finally calling it a day.
That night as we are getting our last feeding in, I hold you and we say our prayers. Your dad gives you a kiss on the head, and I silently walk down the hall with you in my arms. I stand at your crib and kiss you on the cheek before I whisper I love you and lay you down for the evening. I creep out of your room, closing the door behind me. I pause for a moment and smile, feeling like super woman, making it through another day of parenting. I sit down next to your dad and ramble off the funny events that occurred today before I grab a well deserved sweet treat.
When I lie down for bed, I’m thinking of you. As I say my prayers, you and your brother are at the top of my list. I’m whining while conversing with God, asking him to continually give me grace and patience to be the best mom that I can be for the both of you. Somewhere in the middle of my petitions, I drift off to sleep fretting over whether or not I am giving you all I’ve got and you truly know the love I have in my heart for you.
So here it goes. I am incredibly proud of you. Today, you rolled over, succeeded when reaching for a toy, and managed to fall asleep by yourself without making a fuss. From day one, you have impressed me beyond measure. You are one of the happiest babies I have ever met. To be honest, you take it easy on me, and my gratitude for your “go with the flow” attitude is eternal. Your smile is absolutely contagious and never fails to cheer me up. I bet you didn’t know this, but the glider in your room is my favorite spot in the whole house. In the afternoon, when you and your brother are asleep, I sit there, soundless, rocking back and forth with my eyes closed, listening to you breathe and feeling the cool air blowing down on me from your ceiling fan. I rest, only for a moment. But it’s all that I needed.
It’s odd to think that our life existed prior to you. You have completed me in a way that I didn’t know possible. So, I have decided that I am going to make you a promise. From this day forward, I am going to give my very best to you. Some days my best will be defined by reading you an extra book before bed, singing a song, or dancing around the kitchen with you on my hip. Other days, giving you my best may simply mean rocking you a little longer before your afternoon nap. Either way, I am choosing to devote a little more time to you. Taking the extra step to show you my affection. I wonder if you will ever truly understand my love for you. Just know, whether I am paying the bills, picking up toys or doing laundry, you are always on my mind. I see you.
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