Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

Dear second (and last) baby,

People told your dad and me that your big sister was our “sucker baby”: she was so easygoing, she suckered us into having another one.

And it is true that she’s a pleaser. When it came time to discipline her, all it ever took to correct her behavior was for her to know we were in any way the slightest bit unhappy with her in the first place. 

You, though, were a different story . . . your own story. Your attitude toward us was more along the lines of, “What have you got? Bring it on, ’cause I’ve got more.” You almost inspired an “It’s a good thing I’m the second child or I’d be an only child” t-shirt.

I’m never quite sure what version of you I’ll see at any given point throughout the day. You might be euphoric or annoyed or exuberant or withdrawn, all in one 24-hour period. Of course, I know some of that is also known as “being a teenage girl”. But you were your fascinating, mercurial self long before those darned adolescent hormones kicked in. 

Yet oh—oh!—how I love you, my darling girl. You make life interesting, but so much more than that, you make it better, because you gift us with these unique pieces of yourself.

You keep surprising us. Remember that sweet older lady at church who gave all the members of our family alliterative nicknames based on the first letters of our first names? I was “elegant” (I kept hoping for “encouraging” but never quite made it), your dad is “charming” and your sister is “lovely”. When you were born, this precious woman dubbed you “adorable”. But when you were about two, I cornered her at church one Sunday morning and told her I had a new descriptive word: “annihilator” because you had wiped out life as we knew it.

Of course, now we can’t even think about life without you, partly because your unpredictability keeps it from being boring. When you were an eighth-grader, you needed to decide if you wanted to do marching band in high school. Again and again, you adamantly insisted you DID NOT, based on your firsthand experience watching  your big sister go through the rigors of band camp and the marching season. “I am NOT doing marching band!” you told us without wavering. I agreed with your reasoning and happily prepared to spend my Friday nights somewhere other than a football stadium. Then your eighth-grade band class was invited to sample marching band at that last home football game, and you halfheartedly grabbed a pair of cymbals and joined the drum line and played along on the school fight song. Two hours later, when I picked you up, you announced, “I’m going to do marching band all four years!” All. Four. Years. And I learned the only thing we can expect with you is the unexpected . . . usually, in the best possible way.

You are a leader. The same character qualities that make you someone who keeps your dad and me on our toes (and, sometimes, on edge)—stubborn determination, a strong will, and single-mindedness—also make you someone who wants to get things done and who takes organized, deliberate action to do them. I was so proud when you were peer-elected to student leadership teams in middle school, and I loved that as soon as the opportunity to apply for high school student council came up, you jumped on it. 

When you want something, you go after it with intensity and intention. That’s why instead of just saying you want to be a better dancer, you’re up at 5:30 every morning, doing stretching exercises. Thanks for stretching us, too. We needed it.

You think deep thoughts. You’ve been speaking in full sentences since you were about two, and more times than I can count, what has come out of your mouth has been something that has stopped me in my tracks. Your mind is always working, and to me it feels like it’s usually processing something significant. I’m so honored that you often want to talk over things that are on your mind with me, but I know I have to be ready for an intense conversation. You convict me and challenge me and make me think hard. You’re the child I overheard telling your imaginary “class” one day when you were playing school, “Stop trying to be perfect. Start trying to be better.” You’re also the kid who, as a middle schooler, wrote a “greater than” list that included such entries as “love > hate” and “strength > letting them get to you.” These thoughts come out of your personality, which is why you can be challenging to figure out. But these kinds of thoughts are also what make you a puzzle worth putting together.

You are passionate. Prickliness and passion often look a lot alike. You feel strongly about almost everything, which is a beautiful thing when that strength comes out in your dancing or your relationships or your writing. You can also be passionately compassionate, always wanting to give something to the people standing on the corner by the drug store. You’re the reason I carry a gallon storage bag stuffed with granola bars and socks and McDonald’s gift cards in the van within reach of the driver’s seat at all times. Passion usually comes with some kind of price, and if with you, that price is a touchy temperament, it’s one I’ll gladly pay. 

I always know how I stand with you. You feel what you feel and do not try to hide or change it. Of course, as you’ve matured, you’ve learned that in many situations, people and politeness and patience take precedence over your freedom of feelings. But there is also reassurance in knowing your unfiltered opinions. Early in that marching band season, I was thinking about how the halftime show closer had just been added and was wondering to myself if it was going to be any good. Then I remembered that you’d talked about it and said it was “awesome” and I thought, “Well, it must be good if she says so.” You don’t spin situations. You tell it like you see it, and what you see is usually right.

For the record, my sweet second-born, I am equally crazy about both you and your big sister. I can’t imagine life without either one of you. Individually and together, you make my world a better place.

So if I sometimes feel as though I have to dance a little around you—the child my own mom and your grandma adoringly dubbed “unusually unique”—it is a dance I gladly and gratefully do, because knowing you and loving you and being loved by you is worth every tricky step.


You may also like:

In Defense of the Wild Child

Dear Strong Willed Child, You’re Worth It

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here! 

knowing you and loving you and being loved by you is worth every tricky step.  #motherhood #mom #raisinggirls

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

Brothers Fight Hard and Love Harder

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys play outside, one lifting the other on his back

The last few years have been a whirlwind. My head has sometimes been left spinning; we have moved continents with three boys, three and under at the time. Set up home and remained sufficiently organized despite the complete chaos to ensure everyone was where they were meant to be on most days. Living in a primarily hockey town, the winters are filled with coffee catch-ups at the arena, so it was no surprise when my youngest declared his intention to play hockey like his school friends. Fully aware that he had never held a hockey stick or slapped a puck,...

Keep Reading

Stop Putting an Expiration Date on Making Memories

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and son in small train ride

We get 12 times to play Santa (if we’re lucky). This phrase stopped my scroll on a Sunday evening. I had an idea of the direction this post was going but I continued on reading. 12 spring breaks 12 easter baskets 20 tooth fairy visits 13 first days of school 1 first date 1-2 proms 1-2 times of seeing them in their graduation cap and gown 18 summers under the same roof And so on and so on. It was essentially another post listing the number of all the monumental moments that we, Lord willing, will get to experience with our...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

Go Easy On the Parents Who Refuse to Skip Naps

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two little boys and their sister walking down a gravel road, color photo

Greetings from a mom who is done with napping children. It’s great to have the flexibility during the day for longer activities, meeting friends for playdates, or day trips to faraway places. It’s a new life . . . the life without naps. The freedom to make plans and keep them. But not that long ago, I was something very different than the flexible, plan-keeping, up-for-it woman I am today. I used to be the mom who refused to skip my child’s nap. Yep, that one. Here’s the thing, for a lot of parents, It’s so much more than just a...

Keep Reading

My Heart Isn’t Ready for You to Stop Believing in Santa

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing in front of lit christmas tree

“My friend doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, Mom,” my son said out of the blue the other day. We were driving in the car, and when I met his gaze in the rear-view mirror his eyes searched mine. Immediately, my heart sank.  This sweet boy, he’s our first. Thoughtful and smart and eight years old. A quick Google search tells me that’s the average age kids stop believing in Santa, but as his mom, I’m not ready for that—not even a little bit.  I can still hear his barely 2-year-old voice going on about reindeer as we lay together on...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, This Is My Wish for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugs three kids

To my kids, The world you’re stepping into is unlike anything I experienced at your age. It’s fast-paced, interconnected, and sometimes overwhelming. But within this chaos lie countless opportunities for growth and joy. My wish for you is that you find the perfect balance between embracing the modern world and staying true to yourselves. Change is one thing you can always count on. Embrace it because it’s often the motivation for growth. Embracing change doesn’t mean letting go of who you are; rather, it’s about evolving into the best version of yourself. Remember, you don’t need to have all the...

Keep Reading

Motherhood is a Million Little Letting Gos and Fresh Hellos

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with child on her lap by the setting sun and water

I missed my grocery-shopping buddy the other day. Mondays are usually the days my littlest and I knock out our grocery list. In the past, we’ve dropped the kids at school and then headed to the store. I grab a latte, and she chooses a hot chocolate. But that day, they were all in school. That day, she sat in her kindergarten class, and I went to the grocery store. Alone. A new rhythm. A changed routine. A different season. I listened to a podcast on the drive. My podcast. Then I grabbed a drink. Just one. I got the...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Stay Wild

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach, color photo

I can’t really put my finger on it. Or manage to find all the words. But there’s just something about that girl. Maybe it’s the way her hair sits tangled. Curled up at the end. The way she moves. Dances. As if everyone was watching. Or no one at all. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine It could be the way she smiles. With her heart. The way only she can. The way she cares, loves. For everyone. For herself. You see, she is beautiful in the way only wild things are. The way they...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading