baby

"I had the best intentions." A letter to my second child who has always had to share.

Writer Erin Siqueira pens a poignant letter to her second daughter just before her first birthday.

To my second child,

I promised myself that I would not do it. 

I was convinced I would not. Everyone told me it would be harder to keep on top of your baby book, but I was determined to prove them wrong. 

Yet here I am, two weeks out from your first birthday, frantically trying to remember the date of all your first-year milestones.

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I do not remember the exact date you rolled over. I know it was at the four-month mark but the day you did it I was probably trying to placate your big sister, or frantically tidying up while I had a minute to spare. I know when we saw you roll from tummy to back; I cheered you on, took a mental note to write it down and then kept moving on.

When your sister first rolled over, we caught it all on camera. I remember proudly proclaiming it to everyone, quick to grab her book of milestones to document such a monumental event. 

I have scrolled through my phone, desperately trying to find proof of yours, but there is no video of you rolling over. Just the memory that you did. 

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Adjusting to life as a family of four and mother of two was always going to be a challenge. I knew that. On those precious days when your sister was at day care and it was just you and me, I had the best of intentions to sit down and catch up on the early day pages that were still blank, weeks later. 

But every time we got alone time, I desperately tried to clean, take a shower, iron some clothes, rearrange the fridge, sleep while you did or clean the pantry out before your sister got home. 

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You were such a delightfully calm baby during these moments, I couldn’t complain. I could even take you shopping without a fuss and get a hot coffee in. But your baby book continued to go forgotten. 

Bonding with you has also proven more complex than I expected. When you first came home, we cried with pure joy watching your sister gently cradle you in her lap. We were overwhelmed with happiness knowing that you would now both have each other to grow through life with. 

When I breastfed you in bed in those early weeks, she always nestled in while I held you. But as time moved on and she realised she didn’t have me all to herself, cuddling you and taking time to get to know you, was sometimes met with her frustration at having to share me. 

But you have always had to share your snuggles with me. 

You have never known another way. I felt guilt trying to explain to your sister that mummy needed to care for both of you. It has been a challenge to get the balance right. Which has meant sometimes you have had to cry louder, wait longer, and indeed grow up faster, as I struggle to find the ability to give you both the attention you deserve. 

Your father is brilliant at rescuing all of us in those moments when I cannot get to both of you. Instinctively he goes to you while I placate your sister. Together we are a team. It works for us, but I often lament that I don’t get to snuggle you, calm you down, kiss you and reassure you that I am here as much as I wish, or should. 

Erin and her girls. Image: Supplied. 

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And so, two weeks out from your first birthday I sit here, scrolling through memories, desperately filling in the gaps in your baby book with vague estimates. As the second child myself, I wanted to make sure you would look at this book one day and know that your milestones were regarded with the same enthusiasm as your eldest sister. 

I remember turning the pages of my own baby book and wondering how my mother could miss some of my own momentous first year achievements. How did she not remember? 

But I get it now darling girl. And maybe you too will understand one day. Being the second born is no less special than the first. You did not make me a mummy but what you have done is to show me how to be a better one.

I don’t remember the exact date of all your first-year milestones, but I do remember the day I learnt I would become a mother of two. I remember immense gratitude, tears streaking my face. Pride that I could give you each other in this life. 

So, on your first birthday, I make a new promise to you my baby girl. I promise to slow down. To abandon the weight of expectation I place on myself for a tidy home. 

To cuddle you more. To tickle you longer and stare deeper into your eyes when it is just the two of us. To leave the bed unmade and explore the backyard together instead. To squeeze those chunky legs more and nibble those ears a little longer. To put off the washing up and bop along to The Wiggles instead. 

Happy Birthday my second born, but the first to show me how big my heart can truly grow. 

Love, Mummy.

Erin Siqueira is a freelance writer, teacher and mother of two. When she is not frantically trying to tidy her house, she loves splashing in the pool with her girls and crunching the sand between her toes at the beach.

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Feature Image: Supplied.

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