Letter to My Second (and Last) Child on the Eve of His 1st Birthday

Dear son,

You are about to turn a year old in two days, and I am a mess. I look as if everything is under control most of the time, and I am making positive progress toward some major physical/personal milestones; however, I am also crying several times a day right now and your father is forcing me out for my runs so that I will feel better.

You see, when we learned that we were having you, we also knew you would be our last child. I am 41, and although it is theoretically possible to continue adding children to our family biologically or through adoption, it is not personally recommended physically for the prior and not financially feasible for the latter. We are done. The magnitude of this is great. I am not saying that you and your brother aren’t enough, it’s just that there is no choice in the matter. I explain this more in an earlier blog post. I am quite aware that the fear of choices being taken away is why I am planning to run this half marathon and climb a fourteener. I want to do it all while I can. It’s my mid-life crisis.

Now that we know you, we can’t imagine life before you. You are an absolute ray of sunshine in our lives. Your disposition is contagious and we are all happier because you are here. I look at your sweet face with your four-toothed smile, and I melt. Every time. You are getting more brave every day, standing on your own for almost 15 seconds, although no steps yet. I can tell that you are going to be tenacious, but also kind. You give more kisses than your older brother, and I thought he was the snuggliest kid in the world. You can fight over that distinction every day if you wish.

But when I look at you, I also see how much time I have to spend away from you while working at a job I need to keep our family going. I look at a year that whizzed past as you spent hours every day in the arms of Miss Nicole or Miss Jacey at day care. I know they love you dearly too, and I am thankful you have loving arms to hold you when I can’t. But I wish it had been my arms all day. I wish I could have gone full Dr. Sears and had you attached to me 24-7. But I couldn’t. Again, the lack of choice breaks my heart.

Every clichĂ© holds so much truth: You can’t get that time back. The first year goes by so fast. Don’t blink-you will miss their childhood. But for those of us who must work, we miss a lot. We don’t get a fraction of the time we need with our babies. We trust that they will turn out well-adjusted even though they had to spend so much time away from the one person they need most during the first year. We try to make every weekend count with our kids. Every nighttime snuggle is that much more cherished. We negotiate our time and manage somehow.

But I don’t know about you. How do you manage it? Do you miss me? Do you feel abandoned? You sure don’t look like you are sad or depressed, but then, is this not-ideal situation all you know, so you don’t hope for 24-7 mommy time? That is sad, too. You and your brother will never know what it would be like to have me to yourselves most of the day. For that I am sorry. You might be thankful. The jury is out on that one.

It’s just important that you know that if I could, I would be with you all day, every day. Maybe before you are in school one day, I can spend time away from work and stay home, but there are no promises. Daddy and I are doing the best we can for you and your brother. It will never ever be enough for me, but I hope it is enough for you.

I love watching you grow and see your sweet personality develop before our eyes. I would never ask to go backwards on this journey together, but I will pause on photos like this one today and cry for the baby that I wish I could have held just a little bit longer every day. You might as well get used to this crying now. It’s part of who I am. Just ask your Aunt Tammy who is probably crying as she reads this too. It’s genetic.

Now here is a choice I can make. I can cry it out, run it out, or climb it out, but I will also focus on the moments that we do share together and be thankful. I can’t wait to see what the coming year has in store for us. The ugly cries are under control now. Let’s celebrate!

Love,

Mommy

 

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5 thoughts on “Letter to My Second (and Last) Child on the Eve of His 1st Birthday

  1. It’s always hardest on Mom. Traditionally, dads work outside the house. But in this day and time, most families have two working parents. Remember when Hillary said it takes a village? Your sweet sons are surrounded by that village, and they are both happy, healthy boys. They love their time with you, and they enjoy being with the other kids, and with the teachers who also love them. You are a great mom. Don’t ever let that nagging doubt enter your thoughts. Enjoy being with them when you are not at work. Treasure those family moments. And climb that mountain with the same enthusiasm you have every day. And it’s OK to cry…..as long as you can still smile!

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  2. The running helps. Thank you for this post. My life has found a temporary calm in my busy little world. I love your openness about this. I love my life, I truly do, and I’m thankful to you for putting this frustrating balance of motherhood out there. Yesterday I was a mess. 40 just hit me. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, but all my past failures and the career I could have pursued hit me all at once. I see the amazing careers of my friends, you included sweetie, and I wonder what I could have been. I gave up without a fight. Those two adorable children in my pictures came to me soft and cuddly and I was overcome with such joy as I had never in my life known. We had a little house, Josh had a stable job but with long hours and no family around, childcare cost more than what my job could bring. I gave it all up. Now they’re big, going to school, they still need me, but not as much. I run. I busy myself to hide from the pain of losing them a little and finding myself lost. God truly gives us what we need in an amazing way. I think I needed my year here to know who I am. That I have it in me to be someone, even if it doesn’t come with a job title. I’m so proud of you my friend. You are amazing and your children will grow up so proud of you too. Ava broke my heart when she went to school for the first time and told me she wished I had a job so she could stay at school longer! Know that you aren’t hurting them, that they are learning to develop healthy relationships with other people! I know it’s hard missing out on time with them. It’s also hard wondering what could have been. My heart understands the ache. I completely felt the same way with the second child and begged for just one more. I still grieve the children/child I didn’t have.

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    • Libby, your comment is the exact reason I started this blog. As moms, we share pain, and our sacrifices are great- even if they are different. I know of at least one other reader who told me privately that your comment meant so much to her because you articulated what she was feeling in a way she had not arrived at yet. I look forward to a guest post in the future. You are a great writer (and mother), and have so much to share with this small but growing community. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

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