To My Youngest Child — I'm Sorry I Always Compare You to Your Older Sibling

Dearest Second Child,

There's been a voice inside my head since the day you were born. After years of listening to it, I want to apologize to you for letting it win for so long. This voice has whispered things to me like, "Their older sibling was doing X, Y, or Z at this point, so why aren't they?" or, "You thought you had it rough with the first one. How are you going to handle this?" The voice urged me to constantly compare you to your older sister, but I'm realizing that all it's given me is a false idea of who you "should" be. For this, I am so sorry.

You're a different person entirely. If you had also been a girl, I'm sure I would be making the same mistake in thinking you would be similar to your older sister. I've been told some of your antics are "just a boy thing," but what does that even mean? You're definitely more rough and tumble, but you're also a lot more dramatic than she ever was. You didn't sleep through the night until you were 13 months old. And you still wake up wanting to nurse or be close to me sometimes. Your sister was different.

You haven't met milestones at the same time or pace she did — some came earlier, some later. And all along this path in my new role as a mom of two, my thoughts have drifted back to the memories I have of raising your sister and how similar or different the experiences are. And while it's natural to compare, it isn't fair to you.

I need to stop being upset when you push away my snuggles because I was used to a snuggly baby before you. I need to stop getting frustrated when you prefer to quickly flip through books before tossing them on the floor before bed rather than quietly sit and let the soft cadence of my story time voice lull you to sleep. I need to stop wracking my brain to remember how your sister reacted to a doctor's visit at your age to try to gauge how you should react. I need to stop doing all these things and more. I know I've missed out on observing and appreciating the way you experience things due to this unrealistic and unrelated box of expectations I've already set. I've missed out on you.

And since I've come to this realization that comparing you and your sister needs to stop, it's been really wonderful. I want to encourage you to develop at your own pace while I sit back and watch you grow into your own person. You have little quirks of your own that I can't get enough of. You have a little bit of me and your father in you — just like your sister — but you're also a totally separate entity. I'm so excited to see who you become.

So, my unique and awesome second child, I'm sorry for not seeing you for who you are at first. I want both you and your sister to feel that I see you individually and not as a pair who should be doing the same things. You are your own little man, and I love you.