Being Second. A Letter to my Son.

My dear son,

Your clothes are hand me downs. Your bed had been slept in hundreds of times before you were born. Your favorite toys once brought enjoyment to another. Your entire life probably feels second hand.

Rarely do you have mommy and daddy to yourself and when you do, the time is limited. You’re almost always asked to share with another and are forced to play with your older brother’s friends. It can be kind of a rough life. Daddy wishes that you could experience being number one, the top dog, the alpha male. But fate assigned you a different role.

Your brother is bigger and — for now — stronger than you and, try as we might, sometimes he takes advantage of his superiority to rip toys from your hands or get the first ride on the big wheel. Mommy and I attempt to police his behavior but we can’t always make things fair. We constantly remind your brother that someday when he tries to take a matchbox car or a train from you, you won’t relinquish it so easily. He’ll learn the hard way, I suppose.

Yet somehow, despite all the struggles with big brother, you are happy, deeply contented and with a personality all your own. You are a loving child who gives hugs the size of Alaska and loves nothing more than to lay in our arms and listen to your favorite book.

It’s all so surreal. Eighteen months ago, after you emerged into the world, I wondered how I would bond with you. Would I have the same love for you that I had for your brother? Would I have the capacity to love another like I loved him? How would I find the time and energy to give you the one-on-one time that I gave him? What a fool I was to even question those things. We’re pals. And the love I have for you fills me with eternal gratefulness that you joined our family.

When you run to “Dada” every time your brother annoys you and when you pout when I spend time with your rival, I sense the deep connection that you and I share. I can be your protector. That’s my job.

In the bathtub the other night it all crystalized. Usually, you and your brother bathe together — attempting a delicate and slippery peace. But this night you had the tub to yourself and you soaked in the glory of the time alone. No one overpowered you for the toy boats or rubber duckies. No one splashed you or tried to take the bucket from your hands. You played and laughed like you were an only child.

One day you and your brother will be the best of friends. Even though you may share a bedroom or even a bunk bed, you will find a commonality and a fraternity that only brothers can know. When that happens, arguments over who had the dump truck first or who got the bigger slice of pizza will seem insignificant.

My boy, I can assure you there is nothing second hand about our love for you. Fate might have made you second in birth order but you and your brother will always come first for Mommy & me.

All my love,

Daddy

(COVER PHOTO BY JOANNA DAVIS PHOTOGRAPHY)

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The Beginning
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Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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Comments

  1. Awesome stuff. I often struggle with how to formulate my thoughts about our little guy. Like you I empathize with his fate of never getting the opportunity to have the “show” all to himself and also see how he thrives on that precious, yet infrequent, alone time he gets with his mother or I.

    On the flip side, I have to think that the default upbringing of a second child (I’m the oldest so this is only a theory) helps them to be more adaptable to the word at large. Everything these little guys get they have to scrap for and I can only see this as a benefit for surviving the world at large where nothing (for most of the nation at least) is handed to you freely.

    Great stuff.

  2. Happiest Daddy says:

    Great point, Brad. We see the things we’ve tweaked in raising our second child and wish we could get a re-do on certain things with #1! It’s likely, as you said, that #2 will be better equipped to handle certain issues in life by virtue of being second. We’re also making a more concerted effort to spend quality time with the little guy. It’s such a balancing act!

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