Your clothes are hand-me-downs, with rips and missing buttons and slightly frayed edges. We couldn’t seem to get the aged spit-up and avocado puree stains out of the collars. But you don’t seem mind too much, thankfully.
Your bath times and storytimes are always shared, always rushed and a little chaotic, because we’re just trying to get you both in bed before 7:30 with minimal meltdowns. You don’t get the soothing bedtime routine she got. Instead, the hour before bed is filled with shrieking and splashes, giggles and laps around the kitchen island.
Most of your toys are a few years old, with missing pieces, chipped edges, and faded colors. When you do get a new toy, your sister “inspects” it several times before you actually get to use it.
You’re always competing for time and attention with your older sister, and she usually wins because she’s louder and usually climbing something she shouldn’t.
You accept shared laps and deal with interrupted snuggles and don’t complain when toys are pulled out of your little hands. You just seem happy to have a lap to sit on, even if it’s just half of one.
You get half the kisses and hugs from us than you deserve. There’s only so many to go around. I wish I could spend the entire day smooching your chubby cheeks, but I have a whole other person I have to keep alive.
It’s always Mommy or Daddy, rarely Mommy and Daddy. “Divide and conquer” is the mantra in this house.
I know it’s hard being the little sister, the second baby, the one who was loved second.
But… You have a whole extra person to love you than your sister had. How lucky that makes you!
You have a role model and a built-in best friend, and someone to help you prank mommy and daddy.
You have someone to navigate life with and to learn from, a partner in crime, your strongest ally. You’ll always have someone to go into battle with, and she’ll forever have your back. You’ll watch her make mistakes first (and hopefully learn from them!). You’ll also watch us make all the rookie parenting mistakes with her.
You have someone to stay up way too late with, giggling under covers while we tell you two:
“Go to sleep, you two! I mean it!”
You have someone to tell all of your secrets to, even the ones that hurt to say aloud. You have someone who’s known you for your entire life, and she’s loved you even before she saw your sweet little pink face.
On top of that, you have experienced parents with a calm confidence. There is markedly less fumbling, less guessing, and a lot less Googling. We worked out a lot of kinks the first time around, and you get the benefit of us at least having some idea of what we’re doing. She had to spend the first year of her life with two clueless parents. That resulted in backward diapers, too-cold baths, excessive doctor visits, and who knows what else.
Please know that we take just as much joy in every smile and every giggle from you as we do with your sister. We cherish our snuggles and alone time probably even more, because it’s so rare to have.
When you look back at your baby albums, you’ll notice very few pictures of just you. Rather than feeling slighted, believing the reason to be that you didn’t get enough individual attention, I hope the truth will be obvious to you. You aren’t alone in many pictures because you were absolutely drenched with love and affection from your sister.
There will come a day when she’s off to school or work or wherever she goes when she grows up, and it’ll be just us and you for a bit. There will be some days leading up to it that time where you’ll crave for her leave (maybe even count down the days), but I have a suspicion you’ll find being an only child isn’t all that great.
We can’t give you the gift of being our first baby. That’s reserved for your sister, always.
But you get something fiercely special, just for you. You have the gift of being a little sister and the second baby. You came into the world to a family that was already established but that was saving a place for only you. You fit perfectly into it.
You are loved second but not a single drop less, little one.