My sweet second born,

I hope someday you know.

Know how special it is to be the second child.

Your older sister came along with prepping and planning, a freezer full of meals, and a dresser full of clothes. She had hangings on the wall especially picked out during long, meandering trips to Hobby Lobby and HomeGoods as I sipped my decaf coffee and rubbed my growing belly.  

My pregnancy with her came with curated CDs for quiet, solo drivesmy head filled with hopes and fears of what was coming next. When it was time for her to be born, your sister had a hospital full of visitors awaiting her arrival, and our little apartment had a revolving door of travelers and meal bringers for months after she was born. 

As she grew, your dad and I spent hours each day playing with her on the floor with no interruptions or distractions.

We took toddling walks around the complex, swinging her between us so she could meet the birds in the sky. Your sister had the perfect amount of tummy time and each inch she rolled elicited cheers. I held her pudgy hands every day as she balanced on wobbly legs, and when she took her first steps at the early age of nine months, I felt pride well in my chest and tears well in my eyes. 

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You see, everyone knows how special it is to be the firstborn. Everyone knows how special it is to have that first child and experience those firsts for the Very. First. Time. 

But you, my sweet child. I hope someday you know how special it is to be the second born.

Because when you came along, that sister of yours? She was prepping and planning at the tender age of two.  That special firstborn, drew pictures especially for your walls during excited art sessions at her little table as I did homework for grad school, chugged my fully caffeinated coffee, and rubbed my growing belly.

My pregnancy with you, baby girl, progressed to the soundtrack of shouts demanding, “mor Larry Boy, mama!” and, “fish dinner… SHINNYYYY” from a 2-year-old in the backseat who wanted to make sure, “little baby can hear?” 

My round belly collected nightly kisses and whispers of “Love you, baby” from a little girl who could not wait to step into the role of big sister. 

When it was time for you to be born, your sister was amongst the first to visit, cradling you in her dolly-practiced arms. She cradled your head and bent, with a tenderness I didn’t know possible for such a spit-fire, to place the first of countless soft kisses upon your forehead. Our little house echoed with the sounds of that firstborn asking to feed you, to hold you, to bring you diapers, to get your pacifier when it fell, to “make baby happy” when you cried. 

Your dad and I still cheered for each inch you rolled even if you did take quite a bit longer, but I’ll let you guess who your biggest fan was when you finally took those first steps.

“She’s walking, Mama!! Watch! Good job! You are such a big girl!” I heard the very words I had spoken to her, coming from her mouth, directed at you. And your face.  Oh, your face in that instant. Beaming with the internal brightness I’d come to recognize as your “Sister Light.” 

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Your dad and I may have had more individual time with, and energy to prepare for your sister, but God knew the energy and time we spent on her would spill over onto you through her unique ability to love you in only the way an older sister can.

And my heart bursts every day as I see it in action. 

I hear your distinct cackle bursting forth only when your sister is the one chasing, tickling, or making silly faces with you. I see the way your eyes follow her in admiration as you mimic her every move and every word. I feel the tenderness in the room when you stroke her arm if she is hurt, and in her sniffling assurances that she’s OK. I witness the comradery as I see her offer to paint your fingernails and tell you to, “Stay still so the paint doesn’t get everywhere,” in the same tone she’s heard come from my mouth.  

My nose tingles and my sight gets blurry as I hear her say before bed, “Mama, I’m her big sister. It’s my job to protect her.” And hear your tiny raspy voice echo in the darkness, “protect her,” as if you are not just mimicking the words but the sentiment as well.

Oh, my love. I hope someday you know. Know how special it is to be the second born. 

To be the second born and have that prepped and prepared firstborn be your biggest, lifelong champion, guardian, partner in crime, and friend. 

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Because having an older sibling means having one more built-in source of love and support. 

And that, my love, is something that can’t be bought, prepped, or stashed away months in advance in nursery drawers.

Kiley Hillner

Kiley Hillner lives in Texas with her husband and two beautiful daughters. She works full time and recently graduated with her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is loving life and embracing the chaotic beauty of motherhood. You can find more of her thoughts on this parenting gig on her blog and on Facebook.