To my third child,
I need to start with an apology. I'm sorry. I'm sorry there are things I cannot give you in the same way I gave our first two children...
Like peace and quiet.
I'm sorry I cannot guarantee that I can keep your siblings from running, playing, laughing, crying, and throwing tantrums at all hours of the day—especially when you're trying to sleep. A promise of silence just isn't realistic in our home right now. I hope you don't mind.
I'm sorry I cannot promise that your clothing isn't spaghetti-stained or mud-stained from that time your brother literally sat in a mud puddle for 20 minutes and played—I didn't have you in mind when I let him do that. (And if it makes you feel any better, he really had a lot of fun while he was doing it!) Who knows, maybe you'll play in that same mud puddle one day and we'll make those same memories together.
That being said, I don't get you as many new things as I did with the first two. You have inherited all the clothes your brother, our first boy, has outgrown. Though, I don't feel too bad, because they are pretty stylish (Mama has good taste).
I'm sorry I don't buy you new toys. We have so many buckets and bins of toys! It feels like there's been an explosion of toys in our house no matter how many times I purge them. So the toys you get to play with have been discarded by our other two children. I hope to surprise you once in a while with something new, but for the most part, you get the hand-me-downs.
And it's likely that the hand-me-down toys have some pieces missing, forever lost under a couch, behind a bookshelf or in a car somewhere. Still, I hope that these things bring you as much joy as it has brought your brother and sister over the years.
I'm sorry that I cannot give you the same attention I have given the other two. To be honest, they still require a lot of attention, too, and I do my best daily to give everyone as much of me as possible. But it will never quite be equal all around, at all times.
I cannot watch you grow without thinking of when and how the other two learned how to do certain things. I will—of course—accept your timeline and methods for walking, talking, and learning, but will wonder what I did differently this time to make your learning experience different or if it's just your nature.
Despite some of these shortcomings, there are also things I can give you that I didn't give your siblings.
I can give you a more well-rounded and understanding version of myself as a parent. All the kinks have been worked out for the most part—courtesy of your brother and sister.
All the mistakes I made with them will stay with me so I hope not to make those same mistakes with you.
I'm not saying you won't challenge me or that I will be perfect, but I will have more patience and a lot more experience than I did with your siblings.
I have given you playmates, companions for life (I hope) who understand what it's like to have siblings and what it's like to have me as a parent. I hope that they accept you as their third amigo when you get old enough to truly interact with them.
I will give you organized chaos. With three of you it will probably feel like we're constantly moving, and it's likely that we are, but in the most deliberate and orchestrated way. Without being organized we wouldn't be able to thrive. While you'd probably be fine without a little organization, Mommy would be a little more frazzled than I already am.
I can give you my presence because I realize—more than ever—how fast you grow up.
Rather than being buried in my phone or computer, I will be present more than ever. Thanks to your siblings, I know that I shouldn't miss a moment because these moments are fleeting. I don't want to blink and wonder where the time went, though I'm sure that's inevitable.
I can give you the most tender love. I've learned that while I didn't think I could possibly love another child as much as I loved my first and then my second, you showed me that I can. In many ways I owe you a thank you for showing me that I am capable of this kind of love.
Most of all, I'm going to give you my best and hope that I can foster love, respect, and drive in you. That's my mission for all my children. I want you and your siblings to be happy, fulfilled, and to be able to make your own way in the world.
So for all the things I can't give you, and all the things I can—I truly hope you come away with a life that you want.