My Dearest Second Child,
As your arrival into this world approached closer and closer, I began making my rounds. I visited with aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and anyone else I could think of to reminisce about all the fun times we’d had. I convinced myself that once you came, being the mother of two children would drive me to boarding up the windows and becoming a recluse. We would be a very happy family, just pale and sensitive to the light. As it turns out, adding another child was more difficult, but it became the norm very quickly, and we did eventually leave the house — mostly for nipple cream and Motrin, but we made it out nonetheless. But it hasn’t been without a few hiccups. You are only 11 months old, and I have already raised you very differently from how I raised your brother at that age. Which is why I decided to write this apology letter now, so that perhaps later on in life you will know that, if nothing else, at least I’m aware. So please read the following and remember that mommy loves you.
I’m sorry I dropped you.
I did. Honest to God, I dropped you, and this one was a toughie to get over. You were sleeping on my chest in my bed and just rolled off. Splat. I think I was more damaged than you, though. You cried for a few minutes and then started smiling. I was convinced at that point serious damage had been done. In my defense, it was a crowded bed. There was your dad, and then your brother crawled in and pushed me to the edge. And remember, I was exhausted from staying up all night nursing and holding you. Don’t forget that part. I thought about having a specialty cliff-diving suit made for you. You know, the one that makes you look like a flying squirrel. But instead we just decided to invest in a bigger bed.
I’m sorry I don’t know any facts about you.
Your brother’s baby book contains so much information about his first year, he could look back to discover every time he spit up. I was on him like a crazy woman. “Oh, did you see that. His lip went up like Elvis. Oh my God, so cute. What’s today’s date? What time is it?” “Oh my God! All his toes wiggled at the same time. What’s today’s date?” And just today, I turned the corner after your brother called me to “help wipe the poop off his butt,” and there you are. You’re standing up, holding the Swiffer, which is somehow helping you to balance. Wow. You are already a tightrope walker and I had no idea. When you open your baby book to reminisce when you’re older, it will read, “Place photo here,” and you will know that mommy didn’t have time to write down silly stats. I was too busy loving on you. And wiping your brother’s butt.
I’m sorry I let your brother pee near you.
I’m lying. He actually peed ON you in the bathtub. Specifically on your arm. Perhaps some remnants of spray may have landed on your face, but mostly your arm. In fact, I’m sorry your brother does bad things to you daily. It’s not so much he’s mean, but he literally acts like you don’t exist. If you’re crawling in his path, he will run right into you until you topple over. If you have something in your hands, he walks by without hesitation and takes it from you. But you laugh at everything he does and you follow him everywhere he goes despite his abuse. I correct him every time, and I make him give you hugs and kisses but right now it’s just not in the cards. One day, you will be great friends. But right now, I just have to help you get back at him because you haven’t grown into your deviant side yet. When we get your brother an icy pop, you lick all over it first before I hand it to him. It would make him crazy if he knew that. Also, when he’s at school, I let you play in his room. And when he asks why his train tracks are messed up, I blame it on an earthquake. It’s our little secret, buddy.
I’m sorry you look like a candidate for “What Not To Wear,” baby edition.
Your brother had all brand-new, super-cute clothes, and you wear mostly his hand-me-downs, so that’s why it’s hard for me to figure out why you are always so disheveled. Getting two children ready to go somewhere is like participating in a 5K scavenger hunt. But we reach our destination, oftentimes late, and then your brother runs off to cause chaos, and I look down at you as I take a breath only to discover in shock that you are wearing a very interesting get-up, and you have what appears to be a 5 o’clock shadow on your face from the food I forgot to wipe off at lunch. If “hobo baby” becomes a trend, you will definitely qualify as a trendsetter. But I think this is a good lesson: It’s not the clothes that make the boy. It’s all about the attitude, and you seem very happy.
I’m sorry I don’t love you less.
I know as you get older, mean people will try to tell you that the second child is loved less. That there is no way you can love another one as much as the first. Well, I’m sorry to say that’s a lie. And as you continue to grow, you will hear more and more of them. They say, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” From the second the doctor placed you on my chest, I have never been more sure of anything in my life. It is possible to love so much it hurts, over and over and over again. I would give my life for you and your brother without hesitation. I will love you just as much as I love him for eternity. Don’t you ever believe anything other than that. I may have accidentally dropped you a few times, forgotten to document your first fart, let a little pee fly and dressed you like an idiot, but I have also loved you with every piece of me, and you will never hear an apology for that.
With all the love in my heart,