A LETTER OF APOLOGY TO MY LAST BORN
I don’t know how I found the following post. I stumbled upon it somehow, and I’m glad that I did.
You see, I am a “last born,” a last born by far.
Before entering kindergarten, my days were spent at home with my mom. She would let me drink leftover cold coffee (for which I blame the fact that I am not 5″8 like the doctor projected upon my birth). I watched a lot of VH1. I developed crushes on Rod Stewart and MacGyver. It was the 80’s and apparently I had a thing for mullets and forty-year-olds. My favorite song was ironically, “Forever Young.” I may have seemed like a teenager in a four-year-old body but my real guilty pleasure was watching Feed The Children Telethons. I can remember my dad coming home from work one day, I was perched in front of the t.v. watching all of those starving kids (some older than I) and crying like a baby, well like a four-year-old. My dad asked my mom why she let me watch it to which she replied, “Because she wants to.” He responded, “But it upsets her.”
I spent most of my time hanging out with adults. You see, I was a “surprise.” My parents were 47 and 45 when I was born. My siblings were 21, 23, and 24. I didn’t watch cartoons, I was over kid stuff. My sister was already married when I entered the world. As I grew up, it wasn’t like I had siblings, it was like I had four sets of parents. My parents let me pick out my own clothes for as long as I can remember. My mom could sew. She would let me pick out patterns and fabric and there was a really embarrassing summer camp wardrobe in fourth grade. We’re talking really bad 90’s matching vest-shorts combos. I watched Heathers way too young and was totally traumatized!
My parents didn’t do the usual kid stuff with me, like take me to Disney or teach me how to ride a bike. I always knew it was because they were too old, too tired, and pretty much over it because they had already been there and done that. They both refused to teach me to drive because they had to teach the others and I’m guessing that was a real pain in the rear. That responsibility fell to my oldest brother and then when he failed they just put me in drivers ed. I may not have grown up in the most conventional home, but just like the “last born” in the post below, I was showered with love and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Read Amy Betters-Midtvedt’s account below of what it’s like to be a mother to a “last born” of five.
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on the blog, Scary Mommy.
I look around this joint and feel I owe you an apology. Your parents are tired, in case you haven’t noticed. Your older siblings have sucked the life out of us and so we are now bringing you our “B” game. You might not realize that there was a time when we made sure bedtimes were enforced, when we didn’t allow PB&J as an alternate dinner option every night, and when all movies shown were G-rated. You don’t know what you are missing because those parents left the building two kids ago.
Instead, your world is a bit topsy-turvy. The older kids stay up late and so, often, you do too. The sight of you passed out on the couch last night at 10 p.m. as Star Wars blared in the background made me pause to think…shouldn’t that child be in bed? But alas, we were a bit too tired to carry you up. Instead, I snuggled underneath you, held you in my arms, and admired your eyelashes. I know you are 5, and I probably stopped doing that with your siblings around the age of 2, so I’m sorry. I just cannot stop admiring my baby and holding onto your littleness as long as I can. You seemed OK with it as you snuggled in until Dad finally carried you off for a brief stop in your bed before you crawled right into ours.
I’m sorry you always have such an entourage parenting your every move. I know the older kids only had to deal with me and Dad telling them what to do and you have all of them watching you. It can be frustrating to be parented times six, I’m guessing. They all want to be with you — their sweet baby brother — all the time.
Your poor feet barely touched the ground before you were 2 with all the people carrying you around. And now there is always someone clamoring to hold your hand or give you a hug and some help reaching the cotton candy I have stashed on top of the fridge. You are in demand and the struggle is real. One of your first phrases was “too much love,” so we know this to be true. Too much love…what’s a kid to do?
I’m sorry about your wardrobe. While your older siblings had actual outfits, you have more of piles of things to choose from. These piles come from a giant hand-me-down bin with a few things I’ve grabbed while walking through Target mixed in. Sometimes parts of old Halloween costumes somehow got thrown into the mix too. And on top of it, I’m too tired to make you change when you put on your football uniform before school, so off you go.
We’re still working on putting shoes on independently since you have so many helpers to do it for you but I now know that parenting is not a race to see whose kid can do what first. I no longer care when you learn to tie your shoes as long as you are not having your college roommate do it for you when you leave home. I’m just pretty happy you (mostly) dress yourself. You usually seem to feel quite dapper, especially in that Willy Wonka costume your sister got you for Christmas, so maybe I should actually call your wardrobe a win.
I’m sorry you know all the words to “Baby Got Back” and that you have a favorite episode of The Office. There is a small chance that we have given up on screening everything you watch and listen to. As a matter of fact, you might be living more like a child of the ’80s — we got to watch our mom’s soap operas so perhaps I can call this move “retro-parenting?”
Either way, you have been exposed to so much more of the world than I let in with your biggest sister when she was 5. On the upside, you’re bound to be the cool kid at the lunch table unlike your oldest sister who still didn’t know what a Kardashian was when she was in seventh grade. My advance apologies for when your efforts to educate the sheltered firstborns in your classroom lands you in the principal’s office. I might even show up to take the rap.
You are our caboose, our last born, our grand finale. And the good news is the one thing we have not used up is the love. We have learned a few lessons from the ones who came before about how fast it all goes, how quickly you will grow, and how much we need to cherish all the moments. So when we hug you a little too tight, let you be little a little too long, and smother you with too much love know that it is because we cherish you from the bottom of our hearts. You will grow up surrounded with love and hopefully the constant stream of PB&J for dinner (OK, and sometimes ice cream), the borderline inappropriate TV, and ridiculously inconsistent bedtimes will not leave scars that can’t be smoothed over by the fact that you are the last great love of our lives.
Your exhausted, but very loving parents