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And Now We Are Four

By KRISTEN THOMPSON. Dec. 11, 2015


It’s quiet in the house and it’s just you and me awake, which means I have a spare minute to watch you sleep in my arms and marvel at the fact that it’s been two months since you came into my life. And wow do I love you.

It’s not often that I have the chance to do this: to just hold you and watch you and contemplate your nose, your eyelashes, the little dimple in your chin, the sweetness of your breath. And how different you are from your sister. That’s because you came into a household that was already crazy. My days are so full, my attention so divided, that I feel like I am missing your babyhood. You’ve already outgrown the newborn stage and I don’t remember that happening. I blinked and now you’re smiling and cooing and holding yourself up.

I knew that adding a second child to the family would come with a degree of mom guilt. But I thought the guilt would be focused on Isla. I thought I would be sitting here writing an apology letter to my first born, telling her how sorry mommy is that she doesn’t have the time she did when she was the only one.

But the reality is that it’s you, my sweet, who miss out on my attention, because your sister is so full of energy, and needs so much of me. You are content just to be sitting in your swing gazing at the new and busy world around you. Or nursing quietly in my arms. Or sleeping in your bassinet. All the while your sister runs laps around me and I have only  energy and attention – it seems – for her.

When she was your age I had nothing but time to sit quietly and ponder the miracle of her existence, to memorize every detail of her face, to will time to slow down just a bit. Her first two months seemed long and lazy. Yours have flown by, and I feel like I hardly know you because there is so little time to sit and contemplate you.

That doesn’t mean I love you any less. Far from it. Before you came along I couldn’t fathom loving any other child as much as I did (and do) your sister. But then you were born, and they put you – tiny and warm and brand new to the world – on my chest, and love coursed through me like a shock of adrenaline. You were minutes old and already I couldn’t imagine a world in which you weren’t mine. Then you started to nurse, and my love tripled. Then one day you smiled at me, and my love somehow tripled again. How is that even possible?

Sometimes I feel like there isn’t enough room in my body for all this love. My heart is like the Grinch’s, growing and growing and growing until it is too big to fit in my chest and it spills out. That’s how I carry my love for you: like a glow that encircles me. Like a crown on my head.

You are quiet and lovely and sweet. When you smile your whole face smiles. It’s infectious and beautiful, just like you. You stare at your sister with wonder and awe, and smile at her like she is the most incredible person in the world.

And she sure does love you. That little ball of energy has so much love for you that sometimes she doesn’t know what to do with it, and she grabs and hugs and kisses. I can’t wait to see you grow together, to watch your friendship blossom, to listen to you giggle in secret in the back of the car or in your beds at night. Your own friends will come and go, but your relationship with each other will last your lifetime. I hope you cherish it.

I have to remind myself of this important relationship on days when I feel like I haven’t given either of you adequate attention. When I feel like my day has been spent making snacks, cleaning spills, changing diapers, shouting “No!”, and taking little weapons (scissors, nail clippers, ornament hooks) out of tiny hands. I have to remind myself that while having two children means I have less one-on-one time for either of you, I’ve given  each of you a sister, and that, my love, is a wonderful gift.

As you grow, our lives will only become busier. I will have to find time to stop and soak it all in, because your childhoods are going to go by in the blink of an eye. You are already changing so much every day, I can hardly remember what it was like when you were brand new.

I hope on days when I seem distracted or impatient – when our lives seem like a whirlwind of school trips, soccer games, errands, arguments and chores – that you can look back on this letter and know you and your sister have always been my world. And that in the midst of the madness I do step back and think how lucky I am to be your mother. And even though you are my second baby, you will never be my second thought. And you will never be second best.

In the meantime – for now – you are small, the house is quiet, and it is just you, me, the glow of the Christmas tree, and this immense love that encircles both of us. For now you are asleep in my arms, maybe dreaming about my voice or my smell or my smile. And when I put you in your bassinet and climb into bed myself, I will dream of you. My beautiful second born.

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