April 25, 2012

An Apology to my Second-Born

Pictures are the second child’s cross to bear.
Leafing through that fat book on the shelf, there it is–
the hard proof, the suspicion you had all along,
That you are second-tier material.
I mean look! Two-thirds of that sucker shows no evidence of you.
Where’s your first loose tooth, where’s your tea party in the toilet,
Where’s your first snowman with Daddy, looking cold and triumphant?
Where’s you in the Brownie outfit with those dung-colored socks?
Mama swears it’s not personal, but you have your doubts.

And look at the baby book! That’s even worse—your sister’s book bulges, threatening to burst,
full of drawings and locks of hair and little funny quips and lisps.
Yours has a birth announcement and that’s about it. Not even immunization certificates,
and immunization certificates are important stuff, right?
So you swear to yourself up and down and around again that you,
You will never do that to your second child–or God forbid, the third–
You will not forget them on Kodak paper. They will be seen, you swear.
And then one day your are forty years old and you realize
You’ve done the same damn thing.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacia April 25, 2012 at 6:54 am

The same damn thing? Guilty.


Katybeth April 25, 2012 at 7:14 am

Ah–you have discovered the real reason I only had one child. I could have never done the “locks of hair, little funny quips and lisps” twice. I would have failed second child big!

Of-course maybe it’s not all about those lisps….but still….


Kristen @ Motherese April 25, 2012 at 7:22 am

Guilty here too. And it’s even worse for the third – she has a baby book with precisely zero entries in it.

Now we know what our task will be in purgatory: making pretty scrapbooks for our second and subsequent kids. xo


Kelly April 25, 2012 at 7:32 am

Ooh, we’re the opposite here. Javi’s first years were a blur of youth and city-hopping and no examination of the mother-child relationship at all. We just lived. No over analysis. No nostalgia. It was with the second child that I had room, maturity, and space to think.


Arnebya April 25, 2012 at 7:56 am

Same. Damn. Thing. Poor second kid; it’s all disproportionate leaving her feel less loved, but the third? There are NO printed pictures of him; he’s all digital. He doesn’t exist on our walls, poor thing. He doesn’t even HAVE a baby book. And now? Now it’s too late for me to buy one and work backwards b/c my mind = I can’t remember where my keys that I know I just had are. How in the hell am I gonna remember when you first sat up?


Maria April 25, 2012 at 8:29 am

Does it make me a bad mother that none of them have baby books? That there are no photo albums but TONS of photographs, by date, sitting on a hard drive, external hard drive, and Mommy’s heart? And, since we didn’t have a digital camera with the oldest, he’s the one with the least pictures? Not a bad mommy, right?


Mr TKW April 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

New project idea: forge baby and childhood scrapbooks!


Aidan Donnelley Rowley April 25, 2012 at 8:39 am

It’s so strange because I find myself doing the opposite thing. I can’t stop taking pictures of them because they are growing so freaking fast and I don’t know what else to do. Then again? Maybe I am reacting to the reality that there are much fewer pictures of me as a baby than there are of my older sisters? Just thinking aloud.

Great post.


C @ Kid Things April 25, 2012 at 9:52 am

Ha! I guess I’m a bit ahead of the game, because I didn’t do a baby book for any of my kids. Their whole lives have pretty much been documented online, however.


Jen @ Momalom April 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

Sigh. I’m the first child. My every breath was photographed, practically the moment I was born. Ask Sarah (the third child) exactly how many photos there are of her as a child? I’ve taken tons of photos of all kids, though my middle is probably least represented. But the oldest has the most organized photos of the bunch. There are just always going to be inequities, perceived, true and in between. Life. Life!


naptimewriting April 25, 2012 at 11:03 am

Yup. my mom just asked me if I had written down some of the funny thing is the second child said that I said of course no .


TKW April 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm


But did you remember that, just behind his ears, he smelled like baguette? I couldn’t stop inhaling him.


naptimewriting April 25, 2012 at 11:05 am

Goof heavens, kitch…go fix that comment my phone butchered. xoxo


Kate April 25, 2012 at 11:55 am

And this is why there is no baby book. But pictures. Oh. #3 is really going to wonder if she had a childhood.


Amy @ Never-True Tales April 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

And don’t even talk to me about #3. He’s going to think he was adopted…at age 18…the amount of photographic evidence that’s missing from his book.


Tiffany April 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Awwww…..this makes me sad for you. Don’t feel guilty. She won’t care b/c she knows you love her.

Am I weird that I have more pictures of my 3rd than the other 2? Probably b/c Olivia had special needs…and then Gabe came 13 months later!! ;)

Love you.


Kristin April 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I hear you! My 11 year old has an album for birth to age one; my other 3 kiddos don’t, yet. My goal is to keep moving forward with our family albums and work on each kid’s album when I can. But it’s so hard, because I keep taking pictures and I have so many to scrapbook already!


Jessica April 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Oh geesh, Baby B is only 5 months old and already about a 1000 picture behind Addie E. Who ever has time to pick up the damn camera?? The iPhone is poor substitute….


Justine April 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

LOL. I am an only so I can’t compare my life with my kids’ but although I’ve laxed on some things for my second born, like reading parenting books and following strict guidelines on pregnancy, milestones, etc., I found that I’ve been more enchanted than ever, so with her arrival the pictures of my firstborn slowed. I can’t help but want to freeze every little moment of hers into a snapshot, but I also think that knowing she’s our last baby has something to do with it. I guess it’s more for me than for her…


Privilege of Parenting April 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I tended to shun the camera, striving to be there in the moment; now I’m glad for the pictures, mostly, but they tend to make me cry for the passing of time. No matter how many pics we do or do not take, somehow we manage to make them all feel a little less than in some special way, just as we all carry some secret dread (having to go first, or having to go second, third…). I guess we try to iron it all out eventually, at least for ourselves.


Jana@AnAttitudeAdjustment April 26, 2012 at 5:42 am

I heard about this happening to the second child, so I tried to be mindful to take pictures all along. It was different for us, though. Our first was a boy and our second a girl, and they looked vastly different and had different parts, so while they’re not completely equal in pictures (there were a lot of bad pictures the first time around, and I had a camera phone the second), they’re almost equal. Lately, the girl gets a lot more space in our camera lens, and the boy is wondering what’s up with that.


Stephanie Malia April 26, 2012 at 6:32 am



Cathy April 26, 2012 at 10:47 am

No lie – I don’t have a single picture of baby #3 on the wall. One and Two are there – all over the place – but not a single one of #3. Ugh. Makes me feel incredibly guilty. You’d think I’m Catholic or something.


Boingerhead April 26, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I am the worst parent for this stuff. I have a gazillion photos of all four of them on four different hard drives, and maybe 2 pictures framed.

And the baby books? What are those?!


Heather April 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I am the oldest and got a baby book the other two did not receive. Both of my boys have books – neither of them completed. Eli got a scrapbook with dozens of pages. Keegan’s covers his birth alone. I would say that the photos taken are relatively equal though most of them remain on my hard drive.
There are many things that make you a good mother. How well you document is not one of them. xoxo


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