My Vukile, I have to apologise from the start. I am also a second born and I have a birthday 5 days before Christmas. Growing up, I hated being over-looked or lumped into part of a bigger sum. I’m quite certain this explains my need to assert my independence every 12 seconds over the past 36 years (and counting). But, gulp, I’m going make comparisons to your sister anyways.
I wish I had the same clarity and emotional awareness today that I had when your sister turned one. But the truth is that I have not had it since you arrived. I grossly underestimated the quantum leap from one child to two. Perhaps it is not so huge for all parents, but I have been duly surprise by how hard it is to juggle four hands and feet, work, travel and all the admin that goes with it all. I now see why parents and children alike need a sense of stability. I have lost control of a lot things and count my successes using the big things – are we still here? Have we eaten? Are we semi-clean? Put them in the win column. The rest is a toss up. Sometimes the pieces fall together, sometimes they do not. Every single day involves maniacal mood swings. It has to be the very thing that drives parents crazy – it is entirely possible to feel perfectly hopeless and perfectly happy at exactly the same time. In case sibling rivalry ever crops up – don’t worry, this is equal opportunity crazy up in here. Any awareness of my emotions towards my firstborn went flying out the window when you arrived too.
I always believed I was destined to be the mother of boys. I understand them better. They are simpler, more straightforward and 10,000 percent less scary as teenagers. My family was headed by a proper, proper boy and I always believed it made the difference. He set the tone for our entire childhood and I loved every second of it. Do not tell your sister (or teach her to read apparently) but I was mildly disappointed when they handed me a girl first.
I outgrew it, of course, and she has unlocked in me a love so enormous that it leaves me speechless. She coached me to be a Mom. She gave rise to a whole host of emotions that had never been here before. It has actually been seamless. Partly because we are kindred spirits. She looks just like your Dad, but otherwise she is all Mama. Bullish, stubborn, impatient, but smart. She has no fears and doesn’t need approval but gets frustrated quickly. I have already plotted parenting manoeuvres for her teenage years because I suspect her challenges and successes could be similar to my own. The battles we have with her now are straight out of the ‘how to deal with a spirited toddler’ handbook. I know that book; I wrote that book.
You were different from before your first breath. You have stayed different since. We do not know who you look like but you are your Father’s son through and through. You have a gentle soul, a sweet nature and you already show patience and grace. You absorb the scenes around you. You smile just like he does and are just as generous with it too. You take your time, like simple pleasures and can play the same games time after time with a twinkle in your eyes. Your temperament is easygoing. You capture hearts in moments and you keep them because there is no reason whatsoever not to love you. You are completely, perfectly, utterly loveable.
In one of many life surprises, it turns out my girl will be easier for me to parent than my boy. Oh, it will be a fight with her, of that I am sure, but I know how to fight. You and I though, we are cut from different cloth. You are the one who will challenge me to elevate my understanding of people and the world.
You have already given me the most priceless gift – a deepened appreciation of your Dad. You will learn quickly (probably already have) that impatience is my achilles heel. I am a great ‘do-er’ but a less great leader. Mostly because I rarely have the patience to slow down, listen and understand how or why someone may have a better idea or different approach. Your Dad is my biggest victim. He is a leader, a listener, a giver. He shows me infinite patience while I tend to bulldoze him before he gets a word in edgewise. These early characteristics make it much harder for me to anticipate what challenges and successes you may have as a kid or a teen. But they will not mirror my own. With you I will have to slow down, watch, listen, back off and learn new love languages.
I cannot wait. While part of me is scared of slowing down, I know for certain that I need to. Not only to be a better mother and wife, but to become a better me. You will for certain teach me more than I will teach you.
Perhaps the greatest joy and blessing of this first year has been in watching you and your Dad together. Please know that our love for you and your sister is equal, but it is not identical. Our parenting has differed with you and your bond with your Dad is quite simply remarkable. As it stands, he puts you to sleep and wakes up in the night with you. He makes your bottles and changes your diapers. He taught you to kiss. Your face lights up like a bulb when you see him and you get uneasy when he is not around. Please do not think your time together is unintentional. I love nothing more than seeing you guys so stuck on each other. Not that I can ever get enough of you either. Vukile, you have turned our world on its head. You are a true and wonderful gift and you are already fulfilling your name – to uplift this home. Thank you for bringing sweetness to each and every day. You are so very loved.