Dear Second Child: I’m Sorry I Can’t Give You My Undivided Attention

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“There is a particularly bittersweet and tender kind of pain to wanting to be able to give both of my children everything and one hundred percent of me all the while knowing it is an impossibility.

I have moved through various shades and expressions of this particular grief on most of my days these past few weeks.

So these days I try to put everything – every complex, nuanced, tender, loving, heartbroken feeling – into the way I hold them.

I pour it into the way I pick my son up and pull him close when he wakes, and the way I wrap him up and kiss him before I leave to cuddle my daughter to sleep.

First born daughter and newborn baby boy holding hands
Courtesy of Breanna Morandi

I infuse it into the way I hold her gaze when she seeks my attention, into the way I brush her hair and listen to her stories.

All this in the hopes that, somehow, it will buffer the beautiful, holy messiness of this change.

That somehow it will be an anchor when she feels unmoored in her world as it transitions to include this new person and his many pressing needs.

That somehow he will feel the triplicate of the love he’s receiving from all of us, even when he so often cannot have the same consistency of uninterrupted attention she received at this age.

All this because it’s all I can imagine to do that will bridge gaps and bind us together in new ways as we all find ourselves upended, out of sorts, and mapping new ways in our being.

All this because we have a way of our particular togetherness to create.

Dad of two bonding with newborn baby boy and first born daughter
Courtesy of Breanna Morandi

In all of this, I try to remind myself I am not a good mother, and I’m not a bad mother either. Those qualifiers don’t reflect this journey at all.

I’m a trying-her-best mother, a learning-every-day mother, a keep-starting-over-every-time-I-falter mother.

I’m a healing-from-her-own-stuff mother, a frustrated-but-deeply-in-love mother, a keep-showing-up -even-when-I-feel-lost mother.

I’m a growing-and-evolving mother, a steady-grounded-force and a confused-and-uncertain mother. A living, breathing, mistake-making, whole-person mother.

I am not one thing. Neither are you.

Good and bad are too strict a binary to attempt to define ourselves in any aspect of our lives. They are moving targets and far too ephemeral to take on the mantle of either one.

Instead of chalking up points in the good or bad mother columns, our witnessing and accounting of our own journey has to grow wider and more nuanced to make space for the whole, rich complexity of it and of who we are inside of it.

So here’s to all of us, living, breathing, changing, whole human being Mothers – exactly as we are and who we are always becoming.”

mom to newborn smiles in red shirt at camera
Courtesy of Breanna Morandi

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Breanna Morandi. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Sweet Second Child, My Attention Is Always Divided—But My Boy, I See You

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