Dear Second Child: I’m Sorry

As a second child myself, it’s hard to admit that at just 18 months old, I’ve already failed my own precious second-born.

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life chastising my parents for loving my older brother more than me. Our house has always been a shrine to his greatness: portraits lining the halls, awards and plaques filling the shelves, tales of his childhood accomplishments lining my eardrums.

But me? The only pictures of me in their house are the ones where I happen to be sitting next to the golden boy. My trophies and awards? Probably in the attic somewhere, I assume (if they exist at all).

My childhood milestones? No one even remembers if/when I hit them. “Did you know your brother started walking at just 9 months old? A true wonder kid!” But did I ever learn to walk? For all my parents know, I’m still hobbling around on my hands and knees.

{For the record, my brother IS pretty awesome. He’s smart, funny, father to a beautiful blonde family…the works. He’s even a war hero, for heaven’s sake! So hey, mom and dad: I get it, okay?}

So when I got pregnant with my second child, my parents were quick to smugly smile and say, “Just you wait… you’ll see.” I defiantly shook my head at the assumption that I wouldn’t be able to give my second born the same level of attention, affection, and documentation the first kid got. I could never pass on that inferiority complex to my own daughter!

Well, as they so often are… my parents were right.

Because as I look around my house at this very moment, I see no pictures of our poor sweet second-born baby. I see no sentimental words written in her baby book – not even one. No keepsake artwork from daycare hung on the fridge. No sign of her at all, really, if you were looking for it.

What I do see, however, are signs of family. I see shoes of all shapes, colors, and sizes, strewn about the house. I see crumbs all over the kitchen (and living room…hallway… stairs). I see toys, so many toys. I see crayon marks on the walls and chairs, scratches on the wood floors, grubby little fingerprints on the stainless steel appliances, piles and piles of laundry in every. single. room. of the house.

So if you know what to look for, the signs of our second child are everywhere. Because these are all the marks of a family. The marks of two parents who are too tired to vacuum, let alone hang school artwork. Parents who are too busy keeping two kids fed and entertained and (somewhat) clean to find time to compile a baby book. Parents who are too overwhelmed by the day-to-day demands of two toddlers and jobs and activities and obligations to notice that our picture frames haven’t been updated in two years.

So, my dear, sweet second child: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to make all things “equal” between you and your big brother.

I’m sorry you get stuck with all of his beat-up hand-me-down toys, rather than your own shiny new ones.

I’m sorry you have to tag along to his activities, rather than participate in your own, like he did at your age.

I’m sorry all your sonogram pictures are currently crumpled up in a junk drawer, rather than neatly filed by date like big brother’s are.

I’m sorry I’ve already forgotten what your first word was, when you got your first tooth, and when you first crawled.

I know I’ve failed you on all these things (and countless others) in these 18 short months.

But I’m not sorry for this chaotic, crazy, loud, FUN life you have. Because I know I haven’t failed to smother you with all the love and slobbery kisses and silly faces and belly laughs and made-up songs and goofy noises and tickle-tickles and bear hugs I have to give.

And for that, I wouldn’t change a thing. (Okay, maybe I’d take an extra second to jot down some notes when you hit those first few milestones…but THAT’S IT.)

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