While lying in my son's bed last night while he fell asleep, I began to think about my parenting journey thus far. A humbling experience to say the least, and many lessons learned. Here are some thoughts that came to mind, little notes that I direct to my two children in order to make sense of this most wonderful and at times, challenging season.
Dear first child, you made me a mom.
Your entrance into my life bestowed on me the title of mother, and with it I discovered a depth of love that I did not know was possible. At first I felt like I had lost myself, the core being of who I am, my world became all about you. But slowly something new grew from a place of self-sacrifice, you needed me for everything and I needed to learn how to give you everything you needed in order to become mother. Slowly I discovered that I have more to give than I knew possible, and becoming mother was not losing myself, but rather adding to myself.
Dear second child, I wondered if I would be able to love another child.
And then you came along. I learnt that I did not have to split the love I already had, the beautiful miracle of having a second child was that more love was added!
Dear first child, I had no idea what I was doing.
I found myself second-guessing everything. They said I would have some kind of natural instinct, but I felt like I needed Google to tell me how to parent you. You were basically an experiment.
Dear second child, I still have no idea what I am doing.
But this time I realise that it doesn't matter.
Dear first child, I am sorry - I didn't enjoy that first year so much.
I loved you, I loved being your mom, I wanted to do everything right and I put pressure on myself to 'fix' things. I regarded bad sleep as a problem to be solved, surely all the other babies were sleeping through by now? Surely I could not exist on such a small amount of sleep? Surely this was going to go on forever and I would be up serving you milk all night when you are in high school?
Dear second child, I now have the chance to enjoy this precious season with a bit more context.
I know that I can exist on minimal sleep. I enjoy the good nights and realise that they might not last. I accept the bad nights and realise that they will not last. I know that it all passes and in a short time you will no longer be a small baby that needs me to this degree - I have found a peace within myself to enjoy this time with you now, even when I find it difficult.
Dear first child, you seem so big all of a sudden!
You are a little person and I am loving getting to know you. How did this even happen? How did your dad and I manage to get you to this point all by ourselves? You were a little baby just the other day, and now I can have a full on conversation with you!
Dear second child, you won't be this small for long.
Sometimes I get impatient for the next milestone - you will soon learn to sit, crawl, walk, talk. Imagining these things makes me excited, but then I remember to appreciate each stage as it passes so quickly. I remind myself that starting solids means a lot more prep work!
Dear first child, sorry that I can't give you the same level of attention that I used to be able to.
I can see you desperately crave my attention, I feel so bad when I have to leave our playing because the baby is crying.
Dear second child, sorry that I sometimes forget that you are even there.
Sometimes I am so busy attending to your brother, that when I have him settled, for a moment I think, 'Okay good, child is happy - relax', then I remember that you are also here now, patiently swiping at your mobile. You have never and will never be afforded the same level of attention that I was able to give your brother for his first couple of years.
Dear first child, I cringe when you ask to hold your baby sister.
Because your hugs look very tight, and you tend to just dump her on the bed when you are done! But I let you hold her anyway, and keep watch like a hawk. I am so happy that you want to interact with her and I look forward to witnessing your relationship unfold.
Dear second child, you are more resilient than you look.
I can see that you have what it takes to hold your own against a very strong-willed older brother!
Dear first child, I am a first child too.
I know what it is like to have a constant companion to share the magic of childhood with; a little follower, helper and target for teasing. You will possibly feel a deep responsibility for her well-being which will extend into adulthood when she may or may not appreciate your input. But ultimately you will grow in maturity together and she will always look up to you and need you as an anchor in her life.
Dear second child, your brother will always have your back.
He will know how to push your buttons in childhood. In adulthood he will be your best friend.