My Dear Third Child,
You were due to arrive in this world on 10-10-10, but you just couldn’t wait. Instead, you joined our family in the early morning hours of October 2nd, 2010. Our lives will never be the same.
A few days after your birth, your dad and I brought you home. When we brought home our first child, there were four doting adults and one tiny baby. It was a different story for you. I brought you in the house and you were immediately greeted by your siblings, who had been cared for by Grammy and Papa. Once we settled in Grammy and Papa hit the road. There we were; two parents, three kids, and nary another grown-up in site. What a difference a few years makes! I remember looking down at you, looking at your brother and sister, and thinking, “well then, I guess here we go!”
When you showed up our hearts got bigger. It is not true that you have to make room for another child. The part of the heart that stores a mothers’ love is limitless. My love for you was immediate, intense, and everlasting. The same is true for your brother and sister. I didn’t love you any more or less than your other siblings, just differently. You were never last, never just another daughter, just yourself all in your own right. My love for you is all your own.
When you showed up I got more tired. The work of caring for two small children was easy compared to caring for three. The diaper bag got fuller, the mini-van got dirtier, my patience got thinner, and the bags under my eyes got so much darker. It has been fun, and crazy, and busy, and brilliant. It has gotten so much easier in five years, but I am still tired.
Since you showed up the world has been brighter. You are a girl with a quiet strength. People have to earn your affection and smile, you don’t give it away casually. You carry yourself with a peace and joy that is beyond your years. You have provided endless smiles and comfort just by being around those who love you. You have walked alongside me during some really tough times. Your famous “bug-hug” brings delight to your family members. Your caring heart sets you apart.
Since you showed up, I have become a different kind of mom. You receive parenting from a “third-time-mom.” This is a unique variety of supervision. It’s a type of mothering that is less about milestones and more about presence. It’s more about surviving, and less about achievement. It’s much less about cleanliness and bedtime, flashcards and matching outfits. It is much more about delighting in who you are, and giving you freedom to show me the way. You have always been loved and cared for, but you haven’t been pushed. Amazingly, you still bloom, all in your own time. Maybe that’s how it is supposed to be.
Cara, when you showed up, I did know you would be my last child. I didn’t know that three short years later our family would fall apart. I didn’t know that you would spend more than your fair share of days watching your mom struggle deeply. I didn’t know your carefree days at home would be shorter than the other kids, or that you would say good-bye to a carefree childhood so early. I didn’t know that caring for you would keep me going during some dark days.
Your brother, sister and I have delighted in you every day for five years. Your jokes, your affection and your contentment are gifts to our family.
Since you showed up our family is complete.