To my second child,
Even as young as you are, I can see your individuality. I know you, love you, and relate to you, in ways different to your brother.
As a second child, and a second boy, you may at times feel less special or less loved. You are absolutely not less of anything.
It’s true that I am a different mother to you than I was with your brother. I knew a bit about changing nappies and breastfeeding. I knew a bit more about what kind of mother I was before you were born, so prepared slightly differently.
You may have fewer things, but you also have not had the misdirected anxiety or unhappy trials of different parenting advice your brother had, from sleep training to the occasional bottle (he detested both and we had many a struggle until I finally gave up and found my instincts again).
Even so, much was new with you, and I’ve continued to evolve to become your mother. My style has changed to meet your needs, which are different in some ways to your brother’s needs at the same age.
Together, you and I, we’ve worked out how we relate to one another. I’ve learned what your cries and different noises and facial expressions mean – so different again from your brother’s. I’ve learned your favourite song (Hickory Dickory Dock) and what makes you laugh.
I’ve also had to find balance being a parent of two. Sometimes I’ve had to leave you on your playmat with your toys while I helped your brother. Our days together have been truncated with the school run at either end, which means I’ve sometimes had to wake you to get out the door on time. Whereas your brother and I had our whole days together, and I could cater to his every need wholeheartedly and without distraction, you and I have had to work around commitments, bedtime stories, school runs, and homework. I sometimes feel guilty. But I think this will mean you learn flexibility, adaptability and independence. Already you’ve learned to hold things and play on your own while your family bustles around you.
You also have learned to live with a brother. Your face lights up when he talks to you – which he does a lot – and I hope you can sense how loved you are, not just by your dad and me but by your brother, too. My attention may sometimes be split, but you are loved so deeply by three of us.
You have completed our family. There is a sense of wholeness as I hold you. There is no yearning or regret. No “when this happens…” or internal struggles about when can we have another baby and how does this work with my job. I am at peace, happy and grateful and content. I am optimistic about the future without the worry of how/when/if our family changes shape again.