An Open Letter to My First Born

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I feel like I owe it to you to explain why the impending arrival of your baby brother is so different than when I was waiting for you.

I know you’ve been hearing baby banter for nine months and you’re probably a little “over it” by now. In fact, I know you are, as you have told me (on more than one occasion), “I am excited to be a brother, but can we talk about him a little less and let me enjoy being an only child a little longer?” You’re right. Nine years is a long time to be “the only”- and you’ve been so much more than my only- you’ve been my every. My sun rises and sets with you and that will never change; we will just share those sunrises and sunsets with one more, now.

A few years ago, you must have noticed that I was different from the mothers of your peers at preschool, because you began to question some things. One instance in particular, in which you were fastened into your car seat and politely interjected to my conversation, stands out in my memory: “Mommy, how old were you when I was born?” When I told you, you were mildly horrified. “That’s a KID, mommy! You were a KID with a baby. That’s messed up!” You couldn’t have been more than four at the time and as precocious as ever. Yeah, I guess it was a little “messed up”. Being the child of a young parent can really take a toll on a kid. My hope is that our “situation” never took a toll on you.

What you don’t know is, when I was expecting you, I felt like I had to protect you. It was a difficult time for a lot of people to accept what I knew in my heart from the time the stick read “pregnant”; I needed to parent you. Even if that meant I would do it alone, I needed to be your Mommy and not just biologically. I needed to hold you everyday, teach you, and love you so much that you’ll be embarrassed of me when you’re 13. The day you were born, it was just the beginning of our dream-team (cue Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us”).

What I’m certain you don’t remember, is that when you were one week old, I was a full time student working a part time job. It wasn’t a job of grandeur or fulfillment, but it paid for your necessities and it was a character building experience for me. I knew that being “a kid with a baby” often meant long term struggle; children of adolescent parents often face extreme poverty and a cyclical existence of hardship and substandard living. I never wanted that for you (I don’t think any parent does), in fact, I flat out refused it. We were going to be the equivalent of a “grown up with a baby”. It was tough for a few years, but you were my constant inspiration (no pressure).

The time away from you was perhaps the most difficult. I honestly don’t remember you speaking your first words or taking your first steps- it’s hard to admit that, but I really don’t. Those are just a few of the precious moments that I missed, because I spent the majority of your awake-hours away from you for the first three years of your life. School, work, and functioning as a zombie monopolized most of my time, but it was out of sheer necessity.

I look to you with such pride and admiration. I think about where we are now, a peaceful place with routine and a general sense of security and I’m so grateful. I also think about the sacrifices we’ve both made to get here. Sacrifices your baby brother will not have to make. You sacrificed seven years of my complete, undivided attention so I could complete college and establish myself. Your brother is entering into an established family. He will know the overwhelming love of a two-parent home from the first day of his life; I’m forever sorry that you had to wait three years to gain the Daddy you deserve, but you couldn’t have a better one- I think you’d agree that he was totally worth the wait.

I want you to realize the impact you’ve had on my life and on those who know you. Your presence resonates with each person you meet. You are bursting at the seams with thoughtful ideas, humor, and love. Your kindness, your genuine good nature, your sensitivity… these are intrinsic qualities you hold within you and my hope is that you continue to share these qualities with others and never let anyone take them from you. You’re destined for greatness, baby.

At nine, I can promise you that the world belongs to you. You can and will continue to make a difference- the most profound difference you’ve made so far has been in the choices I’ve made for our life (again, no pressure, or anything). I know you will be nothing short of an incredible big brother. Please teach your brother to “be well, do good work, & keep in touch”. Love him so much that it will one day embarrass him and don’t get too frustrated when he wants to be you- he has the very best role model to emulate; more people should strive to be just like you. May he always be the Robin to your Batman.

Happy Birthday, First Born. I love you!

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jordan Donley. Submit your story here.

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