An Open Letter to My Neglected Third Child

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Photo by Sasha Brown-Worsham

To my darling third child,

It seems like only yesterday that you were born and yet it’s been almost a year. How did that happen? Your newborn cries and jerky motions have given way to babbling consonants and crawling and all I have to show for it is this lingering baby weight and a general sense of falling behind at everything. 

I started messing up with you even before the pee dried on the pregnancy test. All those prenatal yoga classes I took twice a week with your sister and brother? I only made three classes during my entire pregnancy with you. 

With you, I pretty much forgot I was pregnant until the 37th week when I started begging you to come out. 

I’m sorry for that. 

Especially since you obliged by arriving one week early.  That was truly awesome. Sadly, there were soccer games to attend and birthday parties to throw and apples to pick, and homework to check so I never got the chance to properly thank you. 

So, thank you. Truly. 

You have always just come along for the ride, strapped in my trusty carrier or sleeping in your car seat. 

When your sister was born eight years ago, ironically on the same wintry weekend you arrived nearly a decade later, I didn’t leave the house for four months. With you, I had to. It’s possible you came to believe the car seat was your actual home during those early weeks. 

I nursed you (and still do!) but I didn’t do so with the same intensity I did with your brother (three years!) or the same focus with which I did your sister, replete with detailed Excel charts. 

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Photo by Sasha Brown-Worsham

Then, of course, there is the matter of childcare. When you were just six- weeks-old, your dad and I left you with a sitter so we could go to a party. Upon seeing me, a fellow mother yelled, “You have a six-week-old and you are out?” I guess I didn’t get the memo on how crazy that looked. And the sad truth is, I didn’t leave your sister with a sitter until she was nearly two. 

Things change, little one. I am not the mommy your sister or brother had when they were babies. 

Instead, I am this one. 

I’ve had eight years of fevers, runny noses, night terrors, bed wetting incidents, good night kisses, lap reading, teacher conferences, and potty training. I’ve been around this block, attended this rodeo, and learned a thing or two. All those clichés have taught me this: nothing is as simple as it seems. 

You, my dear third child, may seem neglected. It may seem you’ve lost out when it comes to new baby clothing, perfect baby toys, and constant cleanliness. Yes, I’ve kept you in a wet diaper far longer than I would have with your brother or sister. 

But you are not neglected. 

I think of you constantly. You are my last and I am so aware of that fact, it fills me with sadness every night when you go to sleep. That’s one day less you of you as my chubby-cheeked, downy-haired, diapered baby. We move one step closer to you as a child, running away from me and toward your life. 

So I am taking this moment to remind you that even though you might not have the perfect, coddled, bubble-wrapped babyhood I gave your older brother and sister, you do have my rapt attention. 

Please remember that even though you are probably, as we speak, picking cat hair from your pacifier and eating day-old cheerios off the floor, those things are superficial. 

The way I feel about you isn’t. 

Last, but not least, I want you to remember this: children who grow up eating cat hair are less likely to develop allergies. Plus, floor Cheerios boost immunity. 

Love always, 

Your (frazzled, overwhelmed, sometimes neglectful) mommy

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