“Dear first-born child:
You don’t always get the credit you deserve. But let me just say that you are so exceptionally special. You are the one who gave me the title of mom. You are the one who showed me unconditional love. You are the sole reason I even realized I would love this role as much as I do. You, my dear. You started this beautiful journey. You are the reason for all of this.
But you didn’t get to hold the spotlight for long, now did you? You were my only baby for such a short amount of time. You’ll never remember a time when you had my full attention or that you didn’t have to fight for space on my lap. You won’t remember sitting around the table with just your father and I for dinner or how we used to hover over you at the playground. You won’t remember how much we worried over the little things. You won’t remember how much we lingered. But we will.
I wish I could go back and not focus so much on what you weren’t doing, and more on what you were. I compared you to every single baby around us and tormented myself on how ‘far behind’ you were getting. When instead, I should have been focusing on your own timeline. I should have been focusing on YOU, my baby, and not someone else’s. I’m sorry for all of the doctor appointments. I’m sorry for all of the sobbing phone calls to family and friends, asking if you were going to be okay. I’m sorry for constantly worrying. I didn’t really understand that every baby truly is different. It took me experiencing it with you to finally see the truth in the statement.
You were our first baby. You taught us how to be parents. We had no clue what we were doing. You barely had any free range of the outdoors. We never let you out of our sights and we surely never let you have your pacifier back when it dropped on the ground. Your diaper bag was packed to a perfect T, we never left the house without absolutely everything we would need in case of an emergency. We cringed at the thought of you crawling around on public floors and we had sanitizing wipes at the ready everywhere we went. Your leash was tight, little one. It probably still is with every new stage you take us through. I’m sorry for that.
With each new milestone, we are learning right alongside of you. You guide us through these new trails we never have walked before. We discover ourselves as parents at the same time you are discovering your own identity.
You are our guinea pig. In the most loving way.
You became a big sister when you were still just a little baby yourself. You didn’t have a choice but to ‘grow up’ super fast. I treated you like a 5-year-old when you were barely 2 years old. I expected you to know how to do things when no one else in this world expected that. It’s almost as if I expected you to understand that you needed to be more independent and not rely so much on me. I’m sorry for pushing you to do more than you were capable of doing…and then getting upset when you weren’t meeting those expectations. You’ve taken it all in stride, though. You really are a remarkable child.
You took on your ‘mini mommy’ role from the very beginning, always helping me when I need it. Most of the time you’ve just known what to do without me even asking. You’ve never complained. You’ve always tried your best. You just stepped into your big sister role as if it was as natural as could be. Sometimes you’ve taken it all too seriously, even putting me in my own place a time or two. You have used my own phrases against me when I am being unruly and you’re quick to humble me when I’m not being fair. You’re my little rule follower and when someone isn’t walking that line as straight as they should be, you’re the one who cracks the whip (sometimes even harder than I do!). You’ve always had my back. You’ve always been the one I can count on. You’re my rock, in more ways than I think you will ever understand, little one.
Thank you for being my best helper. Thank you for always offering a hug to a sibling when mommy wasn’t close by. Thank you for wiping away tears of one while mommy was wiping away another’s. Thank you for the cuddles and kisses you offer those who look up to you. You’re an amazing role model. I know they’re thankful for you, too.
You have paved the way, my love.
Because of you, we learn how to loosen the rope for the subsequent siblings behind you. Because of you, we figure out how not to parent in the same situation next time. It’s a big role to take on. I’m sorry I can’t make that much easier for you. I’m sorry for all of the things we’ve gotten wrong so that we can get them right for the next one in line. We are testing our own parenting styles on each new season. We know we will have it perfected by the last baby, but with you it’s still a rough copy. A really, really rough copy.
We are more and more relaxed with each consecutive baby, but still pretty tight on all of the new things you are doing. We’re trying. We’re trying not to be such a helicopter. It’s just that we are afraid. We are afraid of extending the boundaries too much, so we start really small. We are afraid of really messing up so we don’t take many chances with you. We are learning to let go. We are learning to ease up. It’s just going to take time. With each new step you take, I guess we realize the ones we are leaving behind. The ‘firsts’ are hard for us. You are the one who takes us through them. It was hard to leave you with a babysitter for the first time and it was hard dropping you off at your first day of school. I know it will be hard to let you go on your first date and watch you walk into your college dorm. By the time we do all of the ‘firsts’ for the other kids, we will know what to expect. But we don’t realize how hard they will be until we walk through them with you. You’re helping prepare us.
All of your firsts are all of our firsts, too.
It seems impossible that time has already gone so fast.
But you know what? We are so proud of who you have already become. You’ve taken everything thrown at you in such remarkable strides. We are so proud of all of the accomplishments you have made in such a short time. We are so proud of how sweet and loving you are. We are so proud of your ability to welcome anyone new into your life with open arms. You’re one heck of a kid. You’re one heck of a sister. You’re one heck of a daughter.
You were the perfect soul picked for this role.
I love you so much.
Thank you for letting me learn alongside of you. Thank you for teaching me to be the best mom I can be.
It’s only up from here!
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Schultz of Tried and True Mama. You can follow her on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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