One, two, skip a few, ninety-nine, one-hundred. That’s how counting works when you’re the second child. Lots of skipping and not of the care-free, down a tree-lined path on a warm spring day variety.
Skipped diaper changes.
Skipped clothing changes.
We were just skipping along and now you’re four months old. It’s a cliché, but I feel like I’ve just blinked and here we are. “It goes too fast,” as EVERYONE AND THEIR MOMMA says. With a first child, you observe every change, track every new development, comb every windblown hair back into place. Not because a first child is more special or more loved. Just because new parents are insane. I mean, you have to be insane to have a child in the first place, really. It’s practically a prerequisite.
Well, I must admit that I feel like I’ve missed your first few months of life. Even though we seem to be attached at the hip, I look at you and think: “Wait a second! When did you start doing THAT?” It sort of like when you’re in college and your metabolism decreases as your alcohol consumption increases and you look down at your stomach and think: “Gosh. When did I grow a muffin top?”
Like my midsection, you’re growing and developing in spite of me. In spite of my negligence and ignorance and desire for you to remain a newborn. Suddenly, you’re playing with your newly discovered hand, you’re doing baby sit-ups, you’re changing, dressing and cooking yourself breakfast before I even get out of bed in the morning. Oh, you’ll thank me later in life. When you’re giving speeches about your accomplishments in the field of astrophysicologysymbiosismetamorphicrockandroll, you’ll thank me for neglecting and ignoring you: “If my mother had changed my diapers and clothing on a regular basis, I would have never learned to do it myself. If she had read and sang to me, like she did my sister, then I would not be standing before you, having taught myself to read and play five instruments, AT ONCE.”
Actually, it’s been said (by whom, I know not) that subsequent siblings are “smarter” than first children, ironically due to having one or multiple older sibling(s). While I might read to you less, your sister reads to you and talks to you and plays with you much more than I did with her. Did that sentence make sense? Probably not. I don’t make sense anymore. It’s better that my influence is less. In fact, I think I’ll stop talking to you altogether and let your sister homeschool you from here on out. Okay?
Anyway, some people will say: “My, Deej is so quiet! It’s because she has an older sister to talk for her!” or they’ll say the exact opposite: “My, Deej is such a talker! It’s because she has to keep up with her sister!” They’ll attribute your verbal and math and artistic skills or lackthereof to your Dad or your Mom or the dog, whomever they see relationally fit. People, including myself, will compare and contrast. They’ll say lots of things. Don’t believe anything they say.
You’re you. You’re you because of us AND in spite of us AND along with us AND in reaction to us AND many other prepositional statements regarding us. You are BOTH AND. In this American society, obsessed with individualism, you are you, you, you and only you, you, you! BUT, in our family, not only are you you, you’re us. You’re a part of us and we’re a part of you. It’s confusing, I know. You’ll get it when you’re five months old.
You were born because of a choice we made. I didn’t have children so that they could go off and leave me for a better life. I had children in order to have a family. A family that I will eternally care for, that I will go to the ends of the earth for and that I will make adobo chicken for. And a family that will care for me when I get old, that will give me grandchildren to spoil, that will take care of each other when I’m gone and there’s no one to make adobo chicken anymore.
1) I neglect you
2) Good thing your sister pays attention to you
3) You’ll be smarter than your sister because of your sister, but not because of me, maybe or maybe not
4) You’ll be many things because you were born into our family
5) People say things somtimes
6) Remember: you’re you
7) Also: you’re us
8) Don’t ever leave me
Make good choices. I love you no matter what.