I used to worry that I wouldn’t have enough love to spare when my second child was born.
I was wrong. Ben came into this world with a hearty yell, and immediately I knew that he was mine. My heart exploded, and grew wings, and turned into a butterfly that flew over rainbows and through pixie dust clouds. I fell madly, deeply in love with him, and immediately realized that I have more than enough room in my heart for both of my boys. What I don’t always have enough of, are hands. It’s true that your love just multiplies. What experienced moms fail to tell you however, is that your ability to safely usher your children through the day unscathed, drastically diminishes once you have two of them.
I’ve had six months to figure out why the baby of the family is often the most resilient. He has to be. It’s eat or get eaten, when your big brother is playing lion and you’re stuck on the play-mat, three weeks away from learning how to crawl to safety.
Let’s be honest. You know you’re the baby of the family when:
- Your first solid food was supposed to be avocado, but instead it was blue crayon. We practice “Big Brother Led Weaning”, apparently.
- Every nursing session is interrupted by the sound of a four year old 1) running to the bathroom and flushing something down the toilet. Three times in a row. 2) walking into your room and yelling “MOM! IS THE BABY SLEEPING??” 3) dropping an entire bag of pretzels on the kitchen floor 4) walking into your room and yelling “MOM! I CAN’T FIND MY LEGO PIECE! THE TINY ONE THAT I WAS PLAYING WITH OUTSIDE! 5) walking into your room and yelling “MOM! THE PRETZELS FELL ON THE FLOOR AND ALSO, I NEED YOU TO WIPE ME! IS THE BABY SLEEPING?!” 6) All of the above. On repeat. Over and over and over again.
- Your morning nap is called “Drive to preschool”, and your afternoon nap is called “Pick Max up from preschool”.
- You never have to worry about getting soap in your eyes while you’re taking a bath. You’re too busy deflecting the giant waves that your brother is splashing in your direction.
- You can fall asleep to the lullaby of your brother singing the theme song to “Paw Patrol”.
- Your parents believe in the “No TV before 2 years old” rule. Except when we’re watching Bubble Guppies to stop your brother from running laps around the house. And when Mommy is making dinner. Or pretending to go to the bathroom when she’s really on FaceBook. Or doing the tenth load of laundry for the week. Remember….not enough hands? Of course I don’t let YOU watch it, but sometimes Max is watching it, and you, well….you might catch a glimpse as you’re rolling haphazardly across the living room floor. Perhaps.
- Instead of leisurely play-dates where the mommies babble about meeting milestones and pureeing baby food, you hang out next to the other little brothers and sisters while the mommies yell at the big kids to “take the sword fights out of the baby play area NOW BEFORE ONE OF YOU ENDS UP ON TIME OUT!”
- Your best smiles are saved for your brother. You prefer him over any of your toys. You search the room for him when he’s at school, and he greets you first when we pick him up in the afternoon.
You are tiny and special and perfect Ben. You will be scrappy and tolerant and everyone’s best friend. I love watching you fall in love with your big brother, and how he gravitates toward you in a way that is instinctual and steadfast. You are learning to be brothers. You are weaving your roots together, navigating a path that no one should ever walk alone. You are writing the first chapters of a shared history, typed in a language that only the two of you will know. With your hazel eyes and your wide grins, you face one another like mirrors, reflecting the soft edges that make us a family. You are both the best parts of your Daddy and I, and you are as much a gift to each other as you are a gift to us. Bennie, there has always been a place for you here. Even before I birthed you, I dreamed of you. I hope that you will always realize that you were our missing puzzle piece.
And I hope that you learn to run, and defend yourself with your own light saber. As quickly as you possibly can.