Brian, I have been thinking about you lately as you make your way to turning four. I've been remembering what it was like to hear you cry in the delivery room. And how much joy we felt when we finally saw your beautiful face.
But I've also been wondering this:
Would I have been a different Mommy to you if I knew you were going to be my last child?
Would I have taken more photos? Would I have written down more of your "firsts" and my "lasts"? Would I have looked at you longer - taking in each stage, each chubby roll, each smile...?
I spent a lot of time worrying. I know that. I worried because you only have one sibling... a special needs brother. I worried that it would affect you in any negative way... that you would feel lonely... that you might feel burdened as an adult with his care.
I tried so hard to give you a younger sibling. Harder than you'll ever know.
If only I knew that you were going to be my last.
If I knew that you were my last, maybe I would have spent more time taking in the every day moments. If I knew you were my last, maybe I would have spent less time worrying about the future.
But somehow... even though I didn't know... we made out just fine. I can remember those nights I would rock you in my arms. I can still feel the way your breath felt on my neck. I remember how I tried and tried to get you to smile - but you reserved that first smile for Daddy. You never like to leave anyone out. I remember the first time you crawled... and then took your first steps right into my arms. But some of my favorite memories are watching you with your brother. You adore Gavin more than I could have ever dreamed. From the first days, it was clear that you had a strong bond.
Today I sat with your teacher and your speech therapist for your IEP. I listened as they told me how you accomplished each of your goals... how you've come out of yourself socially... how you're a pleasure to have in class. But it was the final story from your teacher that had me crying all the way home. You were so shy when you started school last January. You always stuck with the adults and didn't seem to know how to be social with other kids. This is you on the very first day of school:
I worried so much about that. You spent your time at home while a steady stream of therapists came in and out for Gavin. It was hard, with his schedule, to coordinate outings or playdates! Boy, did I beat myself up over that.
Today, at the end of your IEP, Miss Laura told me how you would freeze when they would go to play in the gym. All the other kids would run off and pair up and you would stand by the wall and look for an adult.
Flash forward to now.
Now, she says, you LOVE gym. And when all the kids go off running, you seek out the kids that seem to be having trouble... or are left out... and you try to include them.
This made me feel so proud. Your brother has had more of an influence on you than anyone, Brian. He's helped you develop a compassion that I probably could have never taught you.
I know in my heart that I soaked in every second of your almost four years, so I don't have too many regrets. You and your brother continue to teach me how to be a better Mommy.
But there's one thing. If I did know that you were my last child, maybe... just maybe... I would have focused less on trying to make up for what you might miss...
...and realized that with Gavin as your older brother, you have everything you need.
You're a remarkable little boy, Brian.
I love you so much.