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An Open Letter to My Second-Born

Rona Pinto

Dear second baby of mine,

Anyone who isn’t a firstborn is completely aware of the second baby syndrome. It is the blatantly differential treatment meted out to the child who is born after the first one. My first baby had all my attention, time, fuss and coddling. You on the other hand, and I’m going to be brutally honest here, had barely any of it. Having complained about being treated similarly when I was growing up (and I was the third in the family, imagine that), in a few months after you were born, I recognized that I had evolved into the exact same kind of parent.

Here’s how starkly different parenting can look like for the first and the second born. For starters, I haven’t clicked 200 million pictures of you, roughly about 23 a day, as I did with your older brother. Neither did I fuss over settling you into a schedule that all babies supposedly love. That pregnancy journal I painstakingly made the first time around, I haven’t had the time to even look at it since you were born, forget making a whole new one for the time I was expecting you. 

While I meticulously observed and wrote down every meal timing, burp, poop, number of wet diapers etc of my firstborn, with you, we both were lucky if I found my hands free to pick you up the second you cried. I didn’t even buy you too many new clothes, because I had piles of hand-me-downs that were perfect for you. Gosh, at times, I wonder how unfair it has been, how much lesser I have fussed over you, I wonder if I was even a good mom. 

I stop to think of all the things I did differently this time. Yes, it’s true I didn’t click a photo every time you smiled or moved, but that’s because this time I had learnt to enjoy the moment and keep that camera aside. I didn’t fuss over your meal and sleep times as much, but that’s what made you such an easy baby. I could make plans for the family and you just played along. No, I didn’t have time to make that pregnancy journal, I spent that time with your older brother instead, so he’d look forward to welcoming you and boy did he love you at first sight. 

I’m glad I didn’t spend time buying you all those new clothes, I learnt to spend it on something less fleeting, for god knows you outgrew those clothes pretty quick. I didn’t worry if the place was clean enough, or if you were out crawling in the garden, or if the weather was warm or cold, we took you everywhere, without a worry and you loved every bit of it. I didn’t dash out to pick you up the second you whimpered because I was sure I knew to care for you without worrying and knowing exactly when you really needed something. 

My firstborn had a novice mom, unsure of her baby. We learnt everything on the go and figured it out along the way. While I did click pictures or every smile of his, I also incessantly worried every time he as much sneezed and got nervous if he refused a spoon of cereal. You, on the other hand, had a mom who was confident of caring for you, juggling two kids and everything else in between and still felt in control of everything. So dear second baby, it’s true, I wasn’t a good mom the second time around, I definitely was a better one. 

Love, 

Mom.

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