To My Second Born, Who Does Things His Way

October 24, 2019 | add comment

This piece was originally published on Motherly.

To my second born,

You are nearly a year old, and I’m just getting to know you. It took a while. 

Your arrival terrified me. 

I woke up at midnight to my water breaking—a huge gush, the kind I knew only from movies. You have never been subtle, dear one.

I was in a fog as your dad gathered our bags for the hospital. Before leaving, we snuck into your brother’s room to say goodbye to him, to his last night as an only child. He woke up (not our intention), so I sang a song to help him back to sleep. Before I could finish the first line, I felt you making your arrival! 

You were born on the kitchen floor. 

After two minutes of pushing, you were in your dad’s hands, on the floor of our tiny San Francisco apartment. No doctor, no doula, no idea how it happened so fast.

As we laid you on my stomach and covered you with a towel, the 9-1-1 operator instructed us to get a shoelace to clamp the umbilical cord. (To hell with the birth plan.) Your dad pulled one from his shoe and said, “Does it matter if it’s dirty?” The doorbell rang. I breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the paramedics. 

I’ll never think of shoelaces in the same way. 

I was overcome with anxiety in those early months. 

Daddy said, “It’s a boy.” All I could say was, “Is he okay? Is he okay?” You arrived so quickly that there was no time to panic. But terror lingered in the back of my mind. What would we have done had something gone wrong?

When you were two months old, we moved across the country. Between barely sleeping, learning to parent two kids, and leaving a big city for a smaller one, I felt like an irritable sloth. My mind raced while days crept along. Small decisions overwhelmed me. I knew it was temporary, but I hated it.

I’m just getting to know you. 

When your brother was born, I knew him from the get-go. He has my eyes and much of my personality. You’re a mini version of your dad. Loud and powerful, your spirit animal is, well, Animal. The Muppet. 

You were fiery from the start. When you cried, there was an urgency to your voice, and we couldn’t always figure out how to soothe you. The harder we tried, the more you wanted to do things your way, to roar for a while.

I hope I have loved you as I’ve loved your brother. 

My heart has loved you just as much. But as it goes with younger siblings, I haven’t read as many books to you, or made as many homemade meals. Giving 110% on every. single. thing. is a habit I am working to kick, and you’re certainly helping. Motherhood is no place for perfectionism.

I love your intensity.

You make your presence known. When I ask for a big hug, you crash into me head-first. There’s a confidence in your smile that astounds me. You seem too young to be this self-assured.

I love your appetite.

You get SO excited by food. Literally any food, aside from raspberries (too tart?) and sparkling water (too fizzy?). You grunt and yell and rock so hard that your high chair scoots across the floor in tiny, energetic bursts. You attack life. 

I love how much you and your brother love each other.

You adore him, and he adores you too—even on the days when he tackles you more than he hugs you, or takes more toys than he shares. 

We made a playlist to listen to during labor, but given your well-timed arrival we never got to it. Late that night at the hospital, we put it on shuffle and decided that whatever song came on would be your song. It was Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”—the one song out of all 74 tracks that your brother knew and has always loved to sing. Sibling bonds start early. 

Love always,
Your mama

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