Second Child

Dear Charlie,

I want to apologize.

I swore I wouldn’t fall into “second child-itis” with you and I have fallen. Hard. There are so many ways I feel like I am “failing” you.

With Eddie, I scrap booked the day lights out of his first year. I kept track and wrote down everything. I recorded first words and monthly milestones and growth patterns.  I printed pictures each month and clipped them together to make sure I would include them in his book.  I wrote letters to him on the 23rd of each month with all my notes on hand to reference and put into words.

I have not been this vigilant with your milestones.

Daddy tells me that I have been keeping it here on the blog…but when I do a search of all my posts for you, they are mostly letters–heavy on sentiment and feelings and light on the facts of your growth.

Part of me is sad about this.

second child

I mean, I had been so good about it with Eddie. But with Eddie I was sick. I had trouble being close to him without getting upset. He much preferred to be with Daddy than with me.  I clung to those stats.  They proved I was doing my job as his mom. He was growing and thriving and he was happy.

I think about writing things down about you a million times a day.

Just yesterday you said, “Ma Ma Ma! Juuuuuuu!!!” as you stood by the refrigerator. I told you to say please and you smiled that HUGE smile of yours with all your teeth and your squinty little eyes and cooed, “eeeeeeessss!”

I melted all over the floor.  You’re not even 18 months old yet.

second child

By comparison your brother didn’t say any real words until well after he turned two. And even then he wasn’t stringing 2-3 words together for a thought or request. He didn’t say “ma ma” until he was a full year older than you are.

It’s not a bad thing. You know Eddie, he says all the things now and he is so smart and articulate. It’s hard to really imagine him not having words.  I wrote down little notes each time he said a new word.

I have not written down any of your words, Birdie.  They just come too fast!  I think maybe the first word was “no”, but I could be wrong. Off the top of my head the words you have are:

  • ma ma
  • da
  • di di (Eddie) –which you don’t say very often. You just know who “Eddie” or “brother” is.
  • woe
  • yo (and also yo, yo! when Daddy comes home.  So silly!)
  • NO!
  • Juuuuu!  (juice, water)
  • mik (milk)
  • num num (for food)
  • ni ni (for goodnight)
  • bye bye
  • aw gu (all gone)
  • hi!
  • shoooooos (shoes)
  • bop (pipe, your pacifier)
  • boom (you repeat this after us, but you also use this for the word “poop”)
  • Ow
  • Di (diaper)
  • eeeeeeeesss! (please)
  • nus (nose)
  • tus (toes)

And I am sure there are more. You study what we say and try to repeat it. It’s so fun that even Eddie tries to teach you words.

second child

You are quite good at knowing all the parts of the face including some body parts like fingers, toes, feet, buns, tummy, and of course penis. Because boys are weird.

You are over 25 pounds and wearing size 5 diapers.

Size 18 months is a hit or miss fit for you. Most shirts don’t quite cover your big buddah belly, but the shorts are the right length.

You want to do everything Eddie does. EVERYTHING. If he is playing on a tablet or a computer or a video game, you think you can do it too.

second child

You are a climber. I’m positive some of my new gray hairs are because you can climb on anything you decide to climb. It’s also freaking Renae out at daycare this fall. She tells us with panic what the newest thing you have climbed is. Daddy and I just nod knowingly.  Yup. That’s Bird.

This summer you crawled up three concrete steps at the cottage and proceeded to fall down them and land on the concrete slab…on your head. You didn’t cry. You just stood up, rubbed your head (where there was a big scratch and a goose egg) and say, “woe.”  Then you walked away.

Your uncles are still talking about how you are indestructible.

second child

I knew you would be fine and I didn’t rush to you.  With Eddie, I would have cried and rocked you and fretted over a concussion.

With you, I gave you a pat on the buns and told you, “good hustle, Bird.”

Am I failing you?

I don’t think we are, but sometimes I question whether we are being fair.

You put yourself to sleep every nap and every night. Sometimes you cry. We let you.

We never let Eddie cry. Never. We spent HOURS rocking him and sleeping on the couch with him. Never did he cry himself to sleepy.

You normally just fall asleep, but when you don’t, we let you cry. It only lasts 15 minutes at the most. Then you are out.

Is this wrong?

Is it because you are the second child?

I think so. In part.

second child

But I also think it’s because you’re not Eddie.

You’re Charlie.

You are a different child.

Yes, you are our second boy. Yes, you are another Sluiter. Yes, you both have blue eyes, blond hair with curls, and a wicked cute smile and dimple.

But you are not the same child, so we are not parenting you as the same child.

You are fiercely naughty in a way Eddie never was. You ignore the word “no” unless you are using it against us. You laugh as you do something you know you’re not supposed to. Did I mention you climb all the things? Even our high top dinner table? You are rarely unhappy unless you are hungry or tired. Then your tantrums are fierce…FIERCE, I say. But quick. As soon as you have a snack or a nap you are back to silly Bird.

second child

And your cuddles. Oh you’re my cuddly momma’s boy. So different than the first time around with Eddie who was incredibly attached to Daddy.

I’ve been a bum about writing things down, yes. I’ll try to get better. I want you to have as rich of a pile of my memories as Eddie does. I want you to know about yourself in a time that you will not remember. I want you to have that.

You are my second child, but you are not second place.  You are not less than First.

You are different.

You are my Charlie T Bird.

And I love you with all of my heart and soul.

Love, Ma Ma

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. such a sweet letter.

  2. *sniff*

    I feel exactly the same way about my Scrumplet.
    Second child, but not second place.
    And so different from his big brother.

  3. I filled out my oldest’s baby book and wrote all the details down for him. My youngest has the same book – with notes and cards and papers slipped inside – and all the pages are blank. I keep everything in the hopes that one day I will fill it out. I fell into the second child trap. Big Time. But like your husband pointed out, I have the blog now, so I get to reflect on a lot of stories there, which is some consolation.

  4. He sounds so much like my Erv. Climbing all the things, going to sleep on his own, the rare but fierce tantrum. You’re not failing him at all. Your priorities change when you have more than one child, and time isn’t the same (or yours) anymore. You do what you can and always spend the time you need to make sure they are loved and cared for. I know you do.

  5. This hits me right in my momma heart. I desperately worry that I’m short changing both kids all the time, that I’m not treating them exactly the same. I need to remember it’s impossible to treat them the same way…they’re two totally different people.

  6. Oh, this could totally be a letter to Susannah as well. Poor second babies. But MAN if they don’t turn out awesome. (Spoken as a true second child.)

  7. So sweet. Our seconds are so different than our firsts. We are more relaxed, and we have less time to fret over every little thing. And yet, we still feel guilty. My second is so much more easy-going, and I feel that she gets the short end of the stick somehow. But she doesn’t see it like that. And Charlie won’t either. You are a good mom.

    Can we talk more about those blond curls? ADORABLE!

  8. There. You caught up in one fell swoop. What a great post about a great kid. “Yo, yo!” makes me laugh. And oh my gosh, his hair. So cute.

  9. The second child is so different. With Cady I took professional photos every month. With James I have them when he was born and then like six months or so. I don’t even think I did one year photos. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but mostly I know in my heart how much he is loved, and I think he knows it too. That’s what is really important.

  10. OH I have done all of that as well and I have 3 boys. My youngest is the daredevil as well. This is such a beautiful piece for him to see one day. You need to keep these backloaded on something for when they are old enough. Seriously.

  11. Your letter is way better than filling in the blanks of a baby book. I couldn’t tell you half the milestones of my 2nd kid and almost none for my 3rd kid, but I don’t care. I’d much rather remember their specific incidents of love and mischief than how much they weighed at their 6 mo check up!

  12. Youare NOT a bum! I wish I could be half the mom you are!

  13. I love 18 month olds. Especially the words. Shoooooosssss!

    It’s amazing how kids can be so different. You bonded with your boys differently, and that’s okay. There is still plenty more bonding to do.

  14. I was good up through kid three. Poor oscar. Poor kid four. Hardly any posts just dedicated to him. Sentimental or otherwise. I go through little moments where I feel guilty. Maybe we’ll joke about it one day. Probably. Hopefully. xo.

  15. I LOVE the picture of him in the helmet just walking along. He looks like a peanuts character in that picture. Love that guy!

  16. “You are my second child, but you are not second place. You are not less than First.”

    This is what I feel for my Karly.

    She is in high school now and so different from her brother.
    But not because I did worse by her.

    Because she did better.
    She is better than I could ever have “made” her.

    Cheers to motherhood in all its complexity, worry, and successes (whether accidental or intentional.)
    And cheers to loving our children.

    First, last, always.