Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mae Caroline!

Dear Mae Caroline,

I'm late on writing your birthday letter, and for that I am so sorry. I feel this year I've had to apologize to you a lot, you being the second child and all. As parents know, and to which I admit, subsequent children and all of their firsts are not quite as "first-y". No, that's not a word, but what I mean is, because you have an older sister, we've seen quite a few things already. First babbles, first smiles, first coos, first words, first steps, first colds, on and on. Firsts. So, with you, your firsts are still so incredibly wonderful and amazing, and I applaud you every step of the way. But, they just aren't as "first-y" to me as a veteran mom.

And that's ok.

Because, here's what. While you may not be as first-y as your older sister Evans, your moments, good and bad, I know to soak these in for all that they are worth. This time with you is so short. It really is a blip, and I know that now having already gone through this once before. Here we are, over a year from where we started, and as I knew it would, the time has flown. With Evans, I felt a little as though the world stood still during that first year. Looking back, I know that it didn't. And looking back on your first year, I'm so glad I already had that intuition to just be in the moment and appreciate every second. Because soon enough it would be gone. And well, I was right. Gone are the days you would nap by my side. Gone are the days you loved to snuggle on the couch. Gone are the days of nighttime feedings and bedtime bottles. Gone are the days of walking you around the house, singing soft lullabies, and humming in your ear. Gone are the lazy newborn cuddles. Gone are the kick-n-play mats, the exersaucers, the jumpers, the boppy. The nursing. Just, gone.

Here you are, a big one year old, almost walking, and ready for the next exciting adventure. Year 2.

I'm sorry to compare you to your older sister so much. You'll have to understand, until you, she was the only little person I've had to raise. She was my first dive into this parenting gig, and from her I learned so much. But, just as Evans had so many firsts, here is a first only you can claim, Mae Caroline. You've taught me, and continue to teach me, how to raise a child that's not Evans. You are your own little girl, and I've had to adjust my parenting style accordingly. You are very different from your sister in almost every way. Things that worked for Evans don't work for you, and vice versa. It's been a challenge understanding how two little girls, so close in age that look so much alike, need parenting styles that are just about opposite in every respect. I'm so grateful for this first. I'm so grateful that you are as unique as you are, and that you and your sister are so different. Some say you may feel a little gypped having children all of the same sex, but I haven't felt that way one bit. I'm so grateful that you are YOU, Mae Caroline.

You are such an important part of this family, and every day of your life has been the best day of mine. I didn't think I would be able to love a second as much as a first. And yet, my heart grew in size when you were born.

Another first.

We named you after my great-grandmother, who was the kindest and gentlest soul. I don't know how we did it, but the name is so fitting for you. You are the sweetest baby and are so content. You laugh often and smile at everyone. From day one, you've been the best sleeper. You are happy on the go or at home. Not much gets you down, and you think that big sister Evans hung the moon. I didn't realize there was anything missing from our family, yet now that you are here, I cannot imagine life without you.

Another first.

It was hard going from no children to one child when your sister was born. I thought it'd be even more difficult going from 1 to 2 when you came along, but somehow that just wasn't the case for us. Maybe because I'd already been there, maybe because we were used to the chaos, or maybe because you were exactly the baby God knew to give our family. Whatever the case, our disorder and busyness increased, but our stress didn't. Our new normal is the only normal we now know, and we embrace it wholly.

Another first.

So, here we are. I am a veteran mom, and I've already seen a first birthday. I've sang the happy birthday. I've done the smash cake, I've reflected on a first year. I've seen this milestone. And yet, here we are, another first birthday, YOUR first birthday, and it still feels all kinds of "first-y" to me. I knew to soak in all the moments along the way, I knew that time would not stand still, I knew that you'd continue to grow and soon be too interested in the world around you to take a moment for cuddles in mommy's lap. I knew this. Yet, here I am. Grieving and celebrating the first year of you. The first year of my second child. The first year of Mae Caroline.

Another first.

There's still miles of inexperience on me as a mom, and I thank you for showing me the way.

I love you so much.



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