To my drag-along child,

To the one who gets dragged from place to place because of your youngest sibling status in the family.

To the one who gets awoken as teardrops roll down your cheeks because I have to transfer you to the car seat to go pick up your older siblings.

To the one who spends the majority of the day in a Bjorn on my chest because I need my hands for your siblings.

We go to THEIR play spaces.

We go to THEIR music, sports, and art classes.

We go out to the park on hot summer days for THEM.

We go to THEIR school and summer camp pick-ups/drop-offs.

And you are constantly waiting.

You wait as they have tantrums.

You wait as I get them ready for the day—and then it’s your turn.

You wait as I load them into the car—and sometimes you’re in tears with frustration because you need me, but I need to get them somewhere by a certain time.

You wait as I break up their fights and discipline them when they aren’t listening.

And I don’t have time to take in your sweet baby smell like I did with your siblings. I don’t get enough chances just to sit and take all of you in and enjoy your coos and smiles. But just because I’m not zoned in on you at all times doesn’t mean I don’t notice.

I have guilt.

Because if you were my firstborn, you’d be indoors for the first two months, nursing, and sleeping—full attention on you.

You would never be out in the heat, at the mall, or around other germy kids.

Because if you were my firstborn, you’d be in my arms the second you let out a wail.

You would never be left to cry because I’m trying to get your siblings dressed.

But you aren’t. And you get a different version of me—but in many ways a better version.

A mom who isn’t as nervous.

A mom who isn’t as hard on herself about milestones and behavior.

A mom who knows you’re born with your personality—and isn’t easily embarrassed by tantrums.

A mom who knows how to laugh things off and is aware of how much she can love.

You don’t have all of me. But you do have a version who knows who she is as a mother. In some twisted way, you DO have more of the real me.

Gone are the days where the focus shifted at times to what I should do to look like the best mother. Now I’m confident in what works for me, and don’t care about the naysayers—and you’ll benefit from that.

So, you will have to share me my entire life.

And I can’t help but feel bad that our time gets slighted, because it’s so divided.

But my ability to love has stretched and intensified, and you’re the one who made me realize that.

Love always,

This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page

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Dani Sherman-Lazar

Dani Sherman-Lazar is an eating disorder advocate, Vice President of a transportation company, and a mother to three daughters. Follow her on her blog Living a Full Life After ED and like it on Facebook. Her book Living Full: Winning My Battle with Eating Disorders is available on Amazon.