From the very moment I placed you on my chest, your chubby 9-pound body slipping and squirming, we got along famously. You made it crystal clear that you didn't want to be anywhere but in my arms the first few days of your life. And despite being tired and sore and worried about how your 2-year-old sister was handling things, that's exactly where I wanted you, too.
Physically, you were the blueprint of your sister when you were born. You're changing now, looking more like your Dada than me, but in the beginning, with your pursed lips and thick tuft of hair, it was hard to shake the image of her as a newborn whenever I looked at you. Your personality and quirks, though, were new to me. You nursed great, and quite often. When you weren't in someone's arms, you wanted to be swaddled. You took a pacifier. And you smiled earlier and more often than any other infant I've ever seen in my life. We've had a few hiccups along the way, but you've always seemed happy and like most second children, I imagine, laid back.
That said, I think I owe you an apology.
See, sweet love, you're a baby living in a toddler's world. You can't walk yet, so you're often plopped down wherever your sister wants to be -- even if that means removing you from a place where you were perfectly content. And your coos and whines are often superseded by someone who uses actual words -- and who, being a toddler, is far less flexible.
It won't always be this way, but right now, this is how it is. And, although you're happy and healthy and thriving, it breaks my heart a little bit. I wish I could give you my undivided attention for hours on end each day. But right now, I just can't. It isn't possible.
The other day, the three of us were upstairs -- you, your sister, and I -- and I placed you in your crib while I attempted to put a Band-Aid on a flailing, screaming, run-away toddler, who had just cut her wrist in the garden. While I was trying to wrangle her, you started crying, too. But I couldn't get to you. When your crying turned into screaming, I abandoned Operation Band-Aid to make sure you were okay. You weren't. Your little leg was stuck between the crib bars and it clearly hurt. You were scared and frustrated and probably wondering where your mama, the person you should always be able to count on, was. My attention, as it often is these days, was divided and I had to make a choice. I felt like I let you down.
More From CafeMom: Dear Gray Bunny: An Open Letter to My Daughter's Lovey
Your favorite place is still in people's -- mainly my -- arms, but you can't always be there. Sometimes I have to plop you down on a blanket on the floor or in your bouncer while I get your sister ready for school. Most days you're okay with it, but there are days when you're not. I hate those days. Not because of anything you're doing, but because I can't be in two places at once.
Your sister loves you fiercely (and you her), but there are days when she simply does not want to share me. Our time relaxing on the floor together, attempting to read books and play with toys, is often cut short by an understandably impatient, jealous toddler. Sometimes you cry when I walk away; sometimes you don't, instead rolling over, kicking your legs, and grabbing at whatever toy is in reach. I continuously glance over at you, and whenever we make eye contact, you smile. It warms and breaks my heart all at once.
I like to think that we have an understanding, that we're connected on a different level than that of a mama and her firstborn. But, also: You're still a baby.
Some days, I have to wake you up out of a dead sleep to go pick up your sister from school. I hurriedly feed you and get us out the door. You often rest your head on my chest and fall asleep in the baby carrier on the walk there, my favorite feeling. When we come home, you're bright eyed and ready to play. Only ... it's not just us anymore. We're back to being a threesome, and it makes me wonder if I should have woken you earlier to have more alone time with you.
You go to bed each night between 7 and 8. Sadly, the time you go down has less to do with how tired you are, and more to do with whether or not everyone has finished dinner; the kitchen is cleaned; and your sister has had her bath.
You then wake up a few more times before morning, and although I'm, quite frankly, exhausted and would love for you to sleep through the night, there's a small part of me that wouldn't change a thing. It's at night, when I quietly creep into your room and put your pacifier back in or rock you, that I really get to soak you in. Your chunky baby hands. Your soft head. Your little feet sticking out of the crazy sleepsuit you like to sleep in. I know all the experts say to keep it "business" when dealing with babies in the middle of the night so they remember that it's time to sleep, but I can't resist pressing my lips against the back of your neck and kissing your little rolls over and over again. It's then, when no one else is around, that I get to give you my undivided attention.
I know that you know you're intensely loved. I know that you feel safe. I know that you're happy. But still, I can't help but feel bad (or maybe guilty?) and want to apologize for not being able to meet every need or want of yours quicker.
More From CafeMom: A Letter to the Mom I'll Be in 10 Years
It won't always be this way, little boy. I promise. And please know that for now, I can't thank you enough for rolling with the punches. It takes a very special baby to be a second born.
Images via ©iStock.com/Liderina and Nicole Fabian-Weber