I assure you that this post is not about the movie starring Will Ferrell or the fictional race-car driver Ricky Bobby. But the title fits because this is about being a parent to more than one child. And how the youngest often feels compared to the first-born child’s “overly documented” babyhood.
As the baby in my family, I often felt like “If you’re not first, you’re last.” Being three years younger than my brother, he always ran faster than I did. He always hit the ball farther. And he always got the new clothes. Not the hand-me-downs.
Had the movie Talledega Nights been popular then, he probably would have yelled, “Jackie, if you’re not first, you’re last!” on the way to the ice cream truck.
Thankfully, I caught up to him through the years and I love him dearly. But I have to admit, there were a heck of a lot more baby photos of him. A more organized baby album. And today, as a parent of two teen children, I can honestly say, “Mom, I get it!”
When you have your first child, you have more energy. You’re excited to have finally given birth to a bundle of joy that resembles ET’s brother.You’re so excited that you literally take and develop 500 photos with your film camera. The first week they’re born.
You celebrate and document your first born child’s little and big moments.
His first crawl.
His first steps.
His first words. His first burp.
His first haircut. (And save his golden locks in a baggie.)
You document it all in pleather photo albums.
Then, if you’re like me, you have another child. You are ecstatic after meeting her. Thrilled that she has all 10 fingers and 10 toes. A sweet smile. You’re in love the moment she lets out her first cry.
You shed tears from emotion and holy poop exhaustion. Because this isn’t your first rodeo. So you just try to get through each day with your brain in tact when you’re raising a baby and a toddler. (With no sitter. And no clue.)
There’s no time to burp. Or fart. Let alone document your child’s gaseous moments.
My husband is the youngest of five children. My 86-year-old mother-in-law is one of the most organized people I know and she has separate baby albums of all her children. But I’ve seen more individual baby photos of his brother, the first born, than any of the other siblings. And I don’t even want to go into 1960’s hand-me-downs.
I’ve seen two, maybe three photos of me as a newborn baby. And one is of my brother holding me.
Yes, the struggle is real.
So the day your youngest child, the baby in the family, catches on that there’s no documentation of her first crawl?
Or her first steps?
Or her first words?
Or her first hair cut?
You feel like the worst mother in the world. There IS a photo of her first birthday party. But it was a day shared with her brother who was opening presents in the other room because they were born three years apart. (To the week.) And the lock of hair from her first haircut? It’s either somewhere in the attic or in a landfill in Johnston, RI.
Now, I love both of my kids unconditionally. (And my daughter is loved by all of us. Adored beyond words for being the only granddaughter on my side.) But when it comes to documenting the second child?
Like I said before, isn’t being a mother to a toddler and a newborn enough?
Who has time to document a second child’s first poop when you’re still trying to get the first born completely out of diapers?
Thankfully, I’ve created some albums. Thankfully, I found photos from our very-cruddy-quality video camera. Thanks to Snapfish and Shutterfly, I’ve made some photo books.
I even took a scrap-booking class for an hour and gave her a page out of my incomplete book.
What? I was working full-time and trying to make sure both kids left the house fully clothed.