Dear second born,

I want to tell you that I treat you the same as your older sis. But I can’t.

Truth is, I’ve never treated you the same. You two are incredibly not the same—and to treat you so would be unfair. It would be unfair not to see your uniqueness—the special little person you are, with all your own needs, desires and expression.

It would be unfair to expect you to thrive on things that may fortify your sis, but leave you behind at best, and deplete you at worst.

I see who you are becoming and know where you are going. I know what you need, even if, especially if, it’s different from your sister. So when I make you go to bed earlier, it’s because I love you just as much…and that is what you need.

Just as my heart doubled in size to make room for you the night you were born, I am making room in life for exactly who you are.

I am making room in life to see exactly who you are.

To see you, and how you light up around anything with four legs. Or scales.

To speak to you, always keeping in mind the way you need to hear.

To listen to you, as you bring my attention to the most interesting details I overlook.

To smile for you, so that you know that there is enough room in my heart for every bit of you.

To celebrate you, and that noble little soul that rests right on the surface, bared there for all to feel and trust.

I know, it’s hard to be the second-born. I was one, too.

You have to work harder…to be heard.

You have to work harder…to be seen.

You have to work harder…to be yourself.

When I forget to see you, I react or respond with what’s worked before, and my prejudice frustrates us both. Even though I am trying hard to do my best by you, because you are not the same, I make special mistakes, just for you.

When life gets busy and a little out of control, it seems like all the decisions get made around you, instead of with you in mind. And because you are younger, you just have to go with the flow.

When you are the second born, you can’t be the first to try anything. And you have the benefit—or burden—of my experience with your older sis, and all the wisdom and bias that come with that.

I lie awake at night and try to measure the day—were there enough moments for and about just you?

For you, I have special worries.

For you, I know I need to open my eyes, really look, and not be influenced by circumstances and pressures that come from the daily mental load.

For you, I hope that I am meeting those very needs that are yours only.

For you, I want to make sure you feel seen.

My second born, you have such an important place in our family.

You are the one who rounds out our home in ways I could not have imagined before you, and now cannot imagine without.

You are the one who expands all of our hearts, filling spaces we didn’t even know existed.

You are the one who reminds me to slow down, wake up, be present, enjoy now, because very soon you will be as old as your big sis, and I know how fast that will happen. I need to savor this journey with you.

And you are the one who teaches me to consider both of you, and how far a little empathy goes to making each of you happy.

My life would not be the same without you. We would not be the same without you.

And that special half of my heart can only be filled by you.

So, yes, I do not treat you the same. But it’s always bourne out of the same love, the same desire to do best by you, the same caring and the same hope for you, the same amount of wishes, desires and dreams.

I do not treat you the same, but I am the same mama for both of you, who loves you both the same.

It’s the love that’s the same.