Recently, The Youngest turned 2, and with that milestone comes the inevitable question of have we been doing as much for her as we did for her older sister?
The obvious and honest answer is no, we do not have all the same things in place for her that we had for her sister. We don’t have fancy invitations, we don’t have a scrapbook of pictures from her second year on earth and we don’t have photographers ready to snap pictures every time she opens a present. She’ll be wearing her own new clothes but on any other day there’s a great chance she’s wearing something her sister wore first. Same goes with the toys she plays with, the blankets she sleeps in, the highchair she eats and and on and on and on.
That’s just the life of the second child in our experience. She plain and simple isn’t experiencing the firsts the same way her sister did. Sure, she takes her first steps but I’ve seen a child take first steps before and sure she’s said her first word but I’ve felt that joy before. It doesn’t diminish the love I have for her, it’s a simple fact of my human nature—I’ve been there and done that and so I’ve already reached that emotional plateau.
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But what I’ve come to realize over time is that there’s no reason to feel bad about having experienced her many firsts and not shedding tears as often as I did with my first child is because what she has the advantage of (with us having made the decision that two kids is the perfect number for us) is that she has sent my emotions spiraling with a number of lasts.
Lasts don’t get talked about very often because lo and behold, they’re often even more powerful to experience than a first and people don’t want to face the fact that there are things their children do that they’ll never again experience.
For example, when The Eldest said “dada,” for the first time, I was elated, I didn’t think I could ever feel such an emotional high ever again. Then The Youngest eventually said those words for the first time and I thought “well that was cool,” but then quickly thereafter thought, “I’ll never hear another of my kids say dada for the first time.” When that hits you, you realize how important it is to cherish every moment of your children’s lives.
With that in mind, I’m focusing on the lasts this birthday because lately it’s those moments I’ve been spending time thinking about lately. They’re sad moments at first because your instinct is to think it’s too bad that your little baby you once held in one arm is growing into a big kid. Then you realize that’s what they’re supposed to do and you remember all the firsts they’ll still experience.
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I’m hovering in that reflective area for a bit. Here are a few of the lasts I’m going to miss the most:
- The last time one of my girls discovers that those wiggly things at the end of their feet are toes that they control.
- The last time one of them looks at a lemon and imagines how great it’s going to taste only to spend the next 30 seconds scrunching their face when they realize how sour they are.
- The last time my oldest girl meets her younger sister for the first time.
- The last time my youngest asks her older sister what letter comes after K.
- The last time my oldest answers ellemenopee as if L, M, N, O, P was one giant letter.
- The last time I’ll be awake at 3:30 in the morning with a child snuggled into the crook of my elbow because they don’t yet have a sleep cycle.
- The last time I’ll wonder if my daughters have learned to smile or if it’s just gas.
- The last time my daughters show me the first ever picture they’ve coloured on their own.
- The last time they ask me what that white stuff falling from the sky is.
- The last time my daughters spend five minutes crawling across the floor for the first time and then look at me with a big smile.
- The last time my daughter says ‘licious instead of delicious.
And more and more and more and more.
I love that little girl and I’m so happy I’ve been able to experience these lasts with her even if just thinking about them makes me cry as I type. You all have your own lasts that you’ll be able to pull back from the recesses of your memory whenever you want. Maybe yours are different, maybe they’re similar, but no matter what they are, they make you want to hug your child.
Just writing this list I realize there are so many firsts left and so many things I hope I never end. I still get to hear “Daddy, I love you,” and I still get to hear “Daddy, let’s dance.” I look forward to those times but for just a little bit, I’m going to let myself cry over the things that have already passed and hold those memories a little tighter.
Which last are you going to miss the most?
About the Author: Mike Reynolds is a husband to one and father to two girls who are changing the world as you read this. He’s mildly obsessed with making sure his daughters never learn to colour inside the lines and with making sure they know they’re both one-of-a-kind. He also writes bedtime stories with his daughters about everything from robots who play soccer to giants who play hopscotch. Mike writes at Puzzling Posts and can be found on Twitter @PuzzlingPostDad. He shared this piece with us as part of our tribute to dads for Father's Day.
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