Note: I wrote this one years ago. It’s been sitting in a folder since then. And though my first child has grown and our family has changed, it still speaks to me. In so many ways, I’m still working to make sure she doesn’t feel forgotten.
Dear First Child,
Yesterday, I laid down on the couch as your little sister brought her toy doctor kit to me and started doing a check-up. It was the first time I had sat down all day, and as soon as I was on my back, you were there next to me, curling up in the crook of my arm and resting your head on my chest. Your blonde hair tickled my chin, and my heart. You smelled of pepperoni pizza and Oreos. I breathed that in and held you close and thought of my own childhood.
While your sister worked away, checking my blood pressure and listening to my lungs, you reached up to softly kiss my cheek. “I love this, Mommy,” you said, and over and over again for the five minutes that I was there, you said a version of the same thing. I love snuggling with you, Mom. I love spending time with you. I love when we cuddle. I love being with you. I love you.
And it struck me then, in that moment with your warm weight against me, that it had been too long since I had held you like that. You are the oldest of three children. I am busy, I am tired. There is a long list of things to do that calls for me every day, and a baby who needs to be breastfed frequently and a toddler who demands more from me than you do. And though I tell you I love you all the time, and put fairy wings on when you ask if I’ll pretend to be Tinkerbell, and read a story (“just a short one, okay?”) at your request, it’s always done in a rush, in between this thing I have to do and that thing I want to do and and there are a thousand thoughts swirling in my head as I sit with you and that’s not okay.
You never really ask me for much of my time. You never seem to mind that I have to leave after watching just one coffee table performance of “Let It Go” so that I can vacuum the house or change someone’s diaper. You are always so happy to just get a passing squeeze or high five or “I love that picture you drew!” You know that you are one of several and I have many responsibilities and not enough time or energy for everything. And though you act out in other ways, when you so willingly accept that my resources are limited, it’s easy to forget that you still need me. Just as much as the others do. And as we laid there yesterday, your bony shoulder pressed into my armpit and your sweet voice saying, “This is so nice, Mommy,” I feared that you felt easily forgotten, too.
Just minutes after our quick snuggle, I rushed off to take your fussing baby brother out of the swing and to start dinner, but I vowed to do better. And today, I did. We built a fort with blankets and kitchen chairs, and I crawled in there with you and made up a story about a fox who makes funny noises. You laughed aloud and I felt like Mother of the Year.
Thank you for making me feel that way.
And the next time that I fail (because surely I will) and get distracted by everything and everyone else who needs me, please come to me and wrap your arms around my waist and look up at me with those huge eyes under those long eyelashes I have always coveted and then I will remember. I will remember that you were my first, you made me a mom, and you still need me.
You may feel forgotten, my love, but I promise that you aren’t and I will try every day to prove it to you.
I loved you first,