My dear sweet first baby,
It seems like just yesterday it was just you and me. In less than two years you’ve gained not one but two little sisters. Needless to say, they’ve brought a lot of change with them.
I know it hasn’t been easy for you. At almost seven years old, you’re still on the cusp of the “little” stage yourself. Yet suddenly, your needs seem to have fallen further down the priority list. Just this weekend on our family trip to the park you announced that you needed to use the restroom. But we were in the midst of juggling a baby diaper change and a toddler flinging herself down the playground equipment, and implementing the parenting teamwork strategy that would allow one of us to trek with you to the bathroom took some time. I could tell you were aware of the fact that your sisters’ needs were taking priority over your own. But still, you waited patiently.
As I watched your brave patience with us, my heart swelled and there was so much I wanted to tell you.
First, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry your needs have come in last so often lately. I’m sorry that your little sisters’ needs are often so much louder and more urgent than yours so they seem to take priority more often than not.
I’m sorry that I rely on you so much for help. It seems like I’m asking you for something a lot lately–to keep an eye on the toddler or entertain the baby or hand over the iPad or bring a cup of milk or hold a door. So often you cheerfully help without complaint.
I’m sorry that my expectation for you to be an example to your sisters has led me to be more critical of your behavior. I know that it doesn’t always seem fair, that there are things they get away with that you get in trouble for. I worry that my critical voice is staying with you and making you more critical of yourself and others.
I’m sorry that, as you grow into this beautiful young woman, my parenting role is supposed to shift from managing you to trusting you and I don’t always get it right.
I’m sorry that I don’t tell you these things often enough.
Thank you for being kind and patient and big-hearted anyway.
Thank you for being sweet and understanding with your tired mama.
Thank you for everything you do to help, and for thinking of ways to help even without me asking. Thank you for your sweet notes and drawings that lift my spirits. Thank you for putting on a brave face even when you don’t feel like it.
Most of all, thank you for adoring your baby sisters even though it would be easy to resent them for turning our little world upside down. I hope you see the way they look at you, like you are the most amazing and magical creature they’ve ever seen. Because you are.
I promise that it won’t always be this hard. They will grow and their needs won’t be quite so desperate all the time and a new kind of balance will calm the waves.
I promise that I will do my best to listen when you need something and not put too much on your shoulders just because you are the oldest.
I promise your sisters will become your best lifelong friends and that this tough stage will seem small in comparison to the years of friendship you have ahead of you.
I promise to do my best to see and honor your littleness. I promise not to make you grow up faster than you have to just because you are the oldest. I promise to carve out time for us to cuddle and for you to need me.
And last but not least, I promise you will be better for this. Growing up isn’t easy. Being the oldest isn’t easy. Sharing mom isn’t easy. But I promise that the lessons you are learning in patience and bravery and empathy and kindness and generosity and love and family will make it all worth it.
Always know how proud I am of you, and that the greatest gift in my life is being your mother.