Family: To my second child, I’m sorry.

To my daughter, AKA The Second Child…

I’m sorry I skipped the puréed sweet potato stage and went straight to chopped up chicken kievs for tea.

I’m sorry that 80% of your wardrobe is hand-me-downs. And that most of them are blue, so people in the park think you’re a boy.

I’m sorry I didn’t read the pregnancy books the second time around, tracking your size from a lime to an avocado. You were a melon before I’d even had a chance to dust off What To Expect When You’re Expecting, let alone actually read it.

I’m sorry I sometimes let you eat the baby wipes just to get a couple of minutes’ peace. You look like you’re really enjoying them, and I’ve got to get the dinner on somehow.

Brother and sister playing

I’m sorry I sometimes let you eat the baby wipes.

I’m sorry you’ve already watched more TV than your big brother, and you’re two years younger. And that I’m both proud and slightly mortified that your first word is Peppa (the Pig, not the condiment).

I’m sorry I drank all that coffee while you were growing inside me, when I spent my first pregnancy in a caffeine-starved daze. Green tea just doesn’t cut it when you’ve got a toddler. And if it’s any consolation, yes, I will forever feel guilty that I may have damaged you in some way.

I’m sorry the growth chart in your Red Book has a grand total of 3 dots on it, while your brother was weighed every week without fail.

I’m sorry your toys all have teeth marks in them (not yours, might I add). And that anything with removable parts is missing at least one of them.

I’m sorry we had to tell the health visitor that yes of course you’re off the bedtime bottle by now, when I just haven’t quite got round to it yet. Yes, I’m probably ruining your teeth, but the alternative bedtime battle just isn’t my idea of fun right now.

I’m sorry I sometimes let you suck a McDonald’s chip to keep you quiet in the car, when even your brother’s stock cubes were salt-free.

I’m sorry it feels like you’re always stuck in the buggy while your brother does the fun stuff.

Feet in buggy

I’m sorry you’re always stuck in the buggy.

I’m sorry you only got your first pair of shoes when you were actually walking down the street (in socks), rather than tentatively crossing the living room. 1) His cruisers cost more than my entire outfit, and 2), chasing two kids around Clarks is not the one.

I’m sorry you lived in sleepsuits for your first year, while your brother looked like a mini grown-up sponsored by Next.

I’m sorry you didn’t get a fancy new bedroom, because when you arrived he moved into a freshly-decorated big boy room and you moved into… his old cot.

I’m sorry I don’t give you as much undivided attention as I’d like to, because he shouts a (little) bit louder than you do.

I’m sorry that life is a bit different for you than it was for him, and that sometimes it feels as though you get the dud deal. I promise to make it up to you when he starts school and we get some time together, just us.

Until then, little girl: I’m sorry.

Love Mummy x

To my second child, I'm sorry

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  1. Mary says

    Thank you, true, but, believe me, it is nice too to be the second one! I am the second one, a brother before me, another after. And yes, it is true my bedroom was blue, it is true I used to play boys games, it is true I do not like make up today, but believe me, I wouldn t change anything to my childhood.
    I would hate if my mother starts saying sorry. I loved the independancy I had, I loved the fact that the attention was not on me, that I could learn on my own. I forgot about the second hand shoes, coats, skis, bikes, the car I did not have, and all other material things. It is not important.
    I grew up quicker, maybe I had more TV , maybe I went earlier to Mac Do…. So what?

    And I am really happy today.
    So, do not change anything because you feel guilty. Your second one is certainly perfectly happy like this. The worse thing you could do is to feel guilty, not being a good mother. Do not put pressure on you and stay a happy, non guilty mum. That is the best thing you can offer to your kids, all of them.

    Mary, a second child

    • Katie says

      Thanks for such a lovely comment, Mary! And so true – I’m also a second child, so I know it’s not all bad 🙂 As long as she grows up knowing how loved she is, she’ll be just fine really x

  2. Susan says

    Not sure what to make of this to be honest. I couldn’t resist reading it. My first child died suddenly and unexpectedly just before her 4th birthday, and our second was born 16 months after her sister’s death. I’ve therefore had the fairly unique experience (in our culture) of functionally 2 consecutive only children, but emotionally, being a second time parent. The only intersection with my experience is the coffee – I drank copious cups of it when I was pregnant with my first child. No one told me not to, and it didn’t occur to me I shouldn’t. I drank none at all when I was pregnant with my second. After my child’s death, I was terrified of what could go wrong and horizon scanned constantly for every possible danger.

    I think your list is a strange mix of things that don’t matter and stuff that does. Your baby really didn’t give a stuff about the sleep suits or “pre-loved”. For me, dressing my younger daughter in things that her sister wore was one of the few ways of connecting them. I will never have a single photo of my children together, and so little things like that become incredibly important. Chicken kiev is fine (presumably proper chicken, not reconstituted claws and nose, I hope) – babies don’t need puree. On the other hand though, eating baby wipes is not a terribly good idea – nor is being stuck in the buggy, and you can ask McDonalds for unsalted chips.

    I know you’re being flippant – and I’m obviously not the reader you had in mind, but I suppose it just strikes me that surely the point of siblings is the fun of the family. Whilst you’re waiting for your child to start school to give your youngest some “quality” time, our little divided family tootles on, forever aware that someone is missing, and my daughter, now 4, has no older sister to grow up with. Since my daughter died, I’m more acutely aware of how much modern life is centered on “jam tomorrow” with people looking forward to some easier stage, without ever realising how good they have it. Enjoy your two children now – you don’t know how lucky you are.

    • Katie says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Susan, and for sharing your story. I am so very sorry to hear about your daughter, and what you’ve been through as a family. Yes, I am of course being flippant and this is an intentionally light-hearted piece. But you’re absolutely right – most of it really doesn’t matter, and your point about siblings is so true. I’ll keep your ‘jam tomorrow’ (what a great phrase) in my mind and in my heart – thank you for giving me some perspective on a Wednesday morning x

  3. Amanda Morgan says

    This reminds me so much of when my two eldest were younger!! 18months between them! My first daughter I literally have everything recorded! Scrap books baby books a full red book after going to get her weighed every week without fail! Then my son came along and I look back and it is all just a blur! I did none of those things! Then when they both went off to school I had another little girl and it was like starting all over again… She got all that the first baby had because I had that time with her like I did with my first. My little boy may grow up with middle child syndrome but he sure does know how much he is loved xxx love this post! Can relate sooo much!! X

    • Claire says

      Same situation here, I’m 33 weeks with baby number three while I have a five and a six year old at school although she will still be in hand me down clothes as I still had the early months stuff from my elder two (couldn’t part with them!) But i am aware of the extra time she will get one on one

  4. Emma says

    I’ve done all these things with my daughter who is my 2nd but you know what makes up for it? She has a brother who adores her, looks out for her and plays with her. Something he never had. They are 5 & 3 now and when I’m cooking dinner I can here the laughter from the lounge I know they are both happy.

  5. Catherine says

    I could have written it myself!so true. . I do agree with what others said as it’s priceless to have a older sliding to grow up with, and the second child learns so much by observing their big brother/sister, vice versa the bigger one learns how to be gentle and kind. Having two children can be manic at the times ( in our case most of the time:-)), but when they cuddle and giggle together, it makes me feel forever grateful for how lucky we are to have them xx

    • Katie says

      In our case most of the time too, Catherine! But yes – what they miss out on in one-on-one time they make up for in sibling time 🙂 x

  6. Becca says

    Are you sure you haven’t plagiarised this from my mind?! This is my little girls life, even down to Peppa being her first word. So relieving to hear that my lovely girl isn’t the only one living with second child syndrome!

    Wonderfully written and extremely reassuring.

    Thank you!x

    • Becca says

      I’d also like to add;

      I’m sorry you are constantly banging your head as you think you have the same mountain goat-like leaping capabilities of your 4yr old brother, whilst the closest your brother ever got to leaping around with abandon would have involved a full scale health and safety evaluation and the floor being covered in cushions, and probably him too.

  7. Rebecca says

    Katie, I loved and laughed at your post, thank you for sharing. I’ve borrowed some of it to keep for my daughters memory book and added a bunch of ‘but my heart melts when I see…’ moments too. I thought I’d share my favourite one as I’m sure (judging by other comments) it will resonate too with mums and dads….
    My heart melts when I drop you off at nursery and you whimper, not because you’ll miss me but because you don’t want to be separated from him by the baby room picket fence.

    To Susan, if you’re reading this, I am so terribly sorry to hear of your loss. And I desperately hope your heart isn’t breaking reading these comments because I hope you know your daughter has everything she could ever possibly need right there in you, her incredible mum. xx

  8. Karen says

    But remember, she’s had something your son didn’the have when he was tiny – a sibling. Also, my first was kept away from all the yummy chocolate, cake, and ice cream because giving little ones sugar is SUCH BAD PARENTING. Number two was practically weaned on chocolate ice cream. So, absolutely no need to apologise to your second child.

  9. Michelle says

    This could be my life at the moment. My big boy now goes to nursery in the mornings so I get some time together but little man is sometimes asleep at this time so I look forward to those days when I can just get my housework done. There is a massive difference between how I parent my first and my second. I just hope I can do right by the both of them.

    • Katie says

      I’m exactly the same Michelle. Just started the biggest one at Preschool on one of my days off (he already goes when I’m at work) – my intention was to spend a bit more time with the littest for that one morning a week, but instead I end up trying to cram in all of my housework while I’ve just got the one to look after! Poor kid. That said, I’m a second child and I turned out OK (ish) so I think they’ll be just fine 🙂 xx

  10. Helen says

    Oh my…..I’m practically rolling on the floor and laffibgmy ass off! Soooooo true! Well done fantastic read.

  11. says

    This is so true!!!! I think so many people feel guilty that they cannot treat their second child like they did their first. But what they need to remember is that it doesn’t meant that they love the second child any less xxx

    • Katie says

      Totally agree Christina. I love her just as much – life is just a little different these days! Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment x

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