To My Fourth Child…

To My Fourth Child

Photo used with permission by Stephanie Lancaster of Adara Photography.

Hi Baby,

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we welcomed you into our family. It’s been a wild ride already, hasn’t it? People always say you’re the happiest baby in the world, and I know it’s because you’re so loved by so many people. You would never know it, but things are a lot different for you than your big sister and brothers.

When your sister was born, things were much…quieter. She had a room all to herself, full of brand new pink baby things that belonged only to her. In the mornings she would wake up early, and Daddy and I would hear her laughing and talking to herself as she started to stir. During the day, she got love and snuggles from so many people at day care while Mommy and Daddy went to work, and we were both so anxious to give her our undivided attention when we got home! At bedtime, we would gently rock in the glider, singing sweet, quiet songs as she drifted off to sleep.

You, dear child…

Well, that story probably sounds like a fairy tale to you. Your room is shared with big sister’s furniture, clothes, and 8-year-old girl stuff. The only thing in there that belongs to you is your crib and pile of diapers in the top dresser drawer. Those are pretty much the only things that belong to you period, since everything else is a hand-me-down from someone. You are almost always awoken abruptly by a sibling who either doesn’t understand the word “whisper” or several who are fighting over who gets to hold you first. During the day we shuffle back and forth to the gym, Walmart, Chick-fil-A, and…well, those are pretty much the only places we go. You spend as much time in your car seat in an average week as any of your siblings did in a month. And bedtime? HA! It’s more like a circus, complete with clowns, acrobatics, and plenty of animal noises. Rather than peacefully laying you in your quiet bed to drift off as your sleep-trained older siblings did, Daddy and I take turns hurriedly bouncing you (the glider is in my room serving as a holder of clean laundry I probably will never fold) because you’re over-tired thanks to the big kids who make way too much noise for you to sleep when you want to.

When your brothers were your age, they had playmates. Our Prince Charming had big sister, just two years his senior, then he became a middle child at just about your age when Sweet Carrot came along. Those two boys have always been inseparable. Mommy started staying home when Sweet Carrot was born, and our mornings were filled with costumes and sword fights and coloring each other with markers when Mommy wasn’t looking. Now two of your siblings are in elementary school, and the other one would rather play by himself than with you most of the time. He just doesn’t seem to appreciate the way you chew on his action figures and throw them across the room, does he? You don’t seem to mind too much, though, as long as there’s a roll of toilet paper to unravel because Mommy forgot to shut the bathroom door again.

There are a lot of things you don’t have. You don’t have a keepsake box because I keep forgetting to buy one (but there is a pile on my dresser…), I already lost the lock of hair from your first trim (in my defense, you tried to eat it while I was helping sister with a project, and it got scattered), and you didn’t even have a first birthday party (you won’t remember, it’s cool). I don’t read to you unless you overhear me helping the big kids with their homework, and I don’t flinch when you eat Cheerios off the floor. (Sweet Carrot probably put them there for you.) You don’t have much 1-on-1 time with me, and sometimes I wonder if you’re getting the short end of the stick.

And then I remember your tribe.

These three small humans whose baby-hoods looked so different than yours are intensely committed to giving you everything your heart desires. I wish I could sleep train you, but 8-year-old Princess always rushes in to get you. Sweet Carrot is quick to bring you plastic cups from the cabinet – your favorite toy by far – when you are upset that he won’t let you chew on his action figures. And that Prince Charming…he has been asking since before you were born when it would be okay to wrestle with you. I still tell him “not yet,” but he’s discovered that you love to be jostled around on the bed, so he takes every opportunity to crack you up with his “wrestling” moves.

You don’t get much 1-on-1 time with me, but you get TONS with your sister and brothers. Princess used to love to feed you bottles when you were tiny, and I’m convinced you have bonded with her in a similar way to your bond with me. Prince Charming is the one who spent so much time on his hands and knees trying to teach you how to crawl. Sweet Carrot holds your hands and walks you across the living room while I am fixing lunch. Anytime you see one of them sitting cross-legged on the floor, you crawl right up and fix your booty in their laps, because clearly that is where you belong.

My sweet fourth child, you lack no good thing. You have all the love, attention, and affection that any one-year-old could ever want. You have three friends who will always have your back. You have a mom and dad who love you fiercely.

You, my dear, are a gift.



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6 Responses to To My Fourth Child…

  1. Natalie
    Natalie August 23, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    I seriously love this post Mary Beth! And I can already see the difference with my 3rd than my other two..he may get different things than his older siblings…but he also gets wonderful things they didn’t get 🙂

    • Mary Beth August 23, 2016 at 11:52 pm #

      Thanks, Natalie! The sweetness of big siblings loving on the baby only gets greater with time! (Well, until he becomes a kid and gets annoying I guess. I mean surely there is some law of diminishing returns on this or something… ;-))

  2. Theresa Landfather August 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    Oh my goodness, as I sit at night after bedtime thinking how things are so different for my youngest ~ the lack of one on one time, quiet bedtime routines and special color learning days that I did with her bigger sister, I feel sad sometimes. But reading this, I realize, though her days are much different than when we just had one, they are still filled with so much love and interaction I know she will develop and blossom just as much as her older siblings did.
    Thank you!!!

  3. Mary Beth August 26, 2016 at 11:36 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, Theresa! Your kids are certainly blessed to have each other. Watching my kids’ relationships with each other blossom is probably my favorite part of mothering!

  4. Mami2jcn September 11, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    My 4th baby is turning 1 on Friday. I relate very much to this post! My older kids are 13, 11, and 7.

  5. Mary Beth September 11, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    Happy birthday, little one! I’m sure he or she is very, very loved!

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