The other day, your dad and I were reflecting on how much our life has changed since you were born six-and-a-half years ago. And the change feels bigger than the typical, “you have a baby and everything is different” type of change. You see, you were born with a beautifully strong personality and, from day one, you communicated very clearly with us about what was OK with you and what wasn’t going to work. We tried not to listen at first, because we figured we knew best, and because we were led astray by cultural messages imploring us not to listen to you or to our instincts about what you needed.
But around the time you were six month old, things began to slowly crystallize for us, and we began to get some clear glimpses of who we wanted to be as a family. By the time you were about one-and-a-half, we had overhauled our entire life to best meet your needs and to live in alignment with our newfound values. We changed jobs so I could be home with you, we moved to a different state to make this work. We finally listened to your very clear messages about needing to sleep near us at night. And most importantly, we learned that you were to be trusted to show us the way. Your needs were valid and real and it was time for us to respect them. We didn’t need to be scared that your desire to be near us at all times would result in your being insecure later in life. We learned that it’s normal for babies to want their parents close, and now that you’re six, we know that meeting your needs was right. You have grown into a thoughtful, confident, and caring child.
I’m so grateful to you for all you’ve taught us so far. And I’m also a bit sorry. For sure, there’s something special about being the first child and being the person who made us parents. But as our first, it feels like we have to learn all of our lessons with you. Most of our parenting mistakes are made with you because every stage with you is the first time for us. We’re trying to follow the principle of trusting you now, and hoping that we’ll make less mistakes as you grow, but we know that there will be more. And for that, I’m sorry.
Your two younger brothers are so lucky to have the benefit of you as their older brother. You have paved the way for them to be parented in a way that honors their needs from the time they are newborns on (we still make mistakes with them too, but we have learned so very much from you). We are less anxious about decisions we make with them because we have the benefit of seeing you thriving before our eyes and that helps us know that everything will be OK. And most of all, they have an incredibly caring, compassionate, and fun-loving older brother always ready to play with them, help them when they need help, and care for them when they’re having trouble.
I know sometimes it seems like we expect a lot from you and perhaps we even sometimes forget that you’re still so young. I just want you to know how very much we love you. You made me a mama and we have been through so much together in your six years. I love you in a way that I love nobody else on this earth and am so very grateful to have you as my oldest.