This letter is late. You turned one a week and a half ago on April 29th. Whereas I wrote a whole series of posts for your brother’s first birthday, I haven’t written anything for you yet. Until now, that is.
Part of me worries about this. I wrestle daily with the guilt that comes with having a second child. Maybe I am not giving you everything your brother got. Maybe life isn’t fair for you, my second born.
It probably isn’t.
You just turned one. We did nothing to celebrate it on your actual birthday. I did not bake you a cake. I did not give you a present. We did not throw you a party. We did not fill the house with balloons. We said “Happy Birthday, Gavin!” and hugged you lots and made you feel special. You had cake at daycare and a little family gathering the day before, with cake and presents. But on your actual birthday, you might not even have noticed that anything was different.
I’m sorry to tell you that Cameron got a big first birthday party. We rented out the church nursery, decorated according to a theme, invited friends and family, and I made cake pops (which might be the first and only time I will do that.) I went all out for your brother.
It’s not fair.
I’m sure I will hear that a lot as you and Cameron grow up.
But here is what I want to tell you, little Gavin, on your very first birthday.
Sometimes it is okay when it isn’t fair.
I didn’t throw you a first birthday party because your Mama just started back to work and we’re in the middle of house hunting and I’m trying to work on the side at home on top of my full-time hours at work. I didn’t throw you a first birthday party because life is busy, and that’s not fair to you.
But I also didn’t throw you a first birthday because I learned something at your brother’s first birthday. I learned that my worth as a Mama isn’t tied up in ribbons and string and cake pops. It doesn’t matter how pinnable
my your birthday parties are. Especially when you’re one. When you’re one you want to be loved and you want to eat cake and you want to have someone to smile at. Cameron’s first birthday was just as much for him as it was for me. I was flexing my Mama-muscle. I was proving to the world how much I loved my children by how much I spent and how delicious I baked and how creative I crafted.
Your brother? He loved it. He had a blast at his party. But he would have had just as much fun eating cake at home, or playing in the nursery at church on Sunday. The decorations didn’t matter. The theme didn’t matter. The presents hardly mattered. Not to a one-year-old.
I learned with that first birthday party. I learned that when I plan something, I let the stress overwhelm me. I learned that sometimes, less is more. I learned that one-year-olds don’t need, or expect a lot. And I learned that I might be a better Mom when I’m not stressing out before a party. (Just ask your Dad.)
This life will be full of ‘It’s not fair!‘s for you, I am sure. But sometimes, you just have to trust me. Sometimes you have to realize that my equal love for you and your brother might be realized in slightly different ways.
And if you read this years from now, in the throws of an ‘It’s not fair!‘ fit, just be assured that you had just as much fun at your first birthday as your brother did at his.
I love you Gavin. I love having a second child. It’s not fair that I am so lucky, but I am grateful that I am.
Love forever and always,