I am “Mommy” to three amazing little people. Reese and Riley are 7 year old twins. River is 4. Reese is my science guy. His imagination is unparalleled and he can self entertain better than any kid I’ve seen. Riley is a tomboy princess who is naturally good at most things. River is a wild man who is too smart for his own good. They get in trouble and dazzle the heart out of my chest each and every day.
Riley and River share something unique – Riley is my only girl and River is the baby. I remember the day that Reese noticed this fact and asked what was special about him.
“Lots of things! And you’re the oldest!” I answered.
And it was true. He was Twin A and born over a minute before his sister.
He clung to this new bit of knowledge like it was gold and made sure to remind Riley of this as much as possible. She rolled her eyes and said, “Well, I’m taller.”
It took me a few times of her saying this to notice how his face changed. His sister said this simply to get his goat, because that’s what siblings do, and well, it was also true. He began to realize that he was significantly shorter than her and other kids his age. It began to bother him immensely. His self esteem was falling. It became a domino effect.
And I realized something.
Reese is the child I am absolutely the hardest on. He needed to be built up and reminded of his greatness especially on his bad days, to be shown how to be self aware and confident. He needed to be reminded that he was still a growing boy and beyond that, height is never the true measure of a person.
As parents, we love each one of our children with the same fierceness, but the relationships with each are different. It became clear to me that as his mom, I needed to step my game up.
I thought about the different love languages and how we can apply them to our children too. Words of affirmation is definitely one of Reese’s languages. Though I tell each one of my kids I love them and how smart, kind and amazing they are every day, he needed more.
I decided I would read something to him that I wrote when he was about 1 year old.
“He is the single flame of wild amber flashing between static shores. He is the “such a sweet kid” known to cry when his twin sister eludes him in the plastic pandemonium of the laundry basket or when his rubber bath toys are swept away in whirlpools spawned by tiny hands. He murmurs breathy fragmented words in his sleep (patterns only I can understand) then he bangs his wrists against the wood of his crib when the sunlight trickles across his cheek in the morning, a muffled clanging between our paper walls, this is my wake-up call. He sometimes laughs as though it’s the only way to breathe, gulping air like a drowning man with his wild hair bouncing with each giggle. He holds on tightly to my finger for balance as we stroll slowly under the relentless sun, he’s pointing at each wildflower and yelling his own version of “BIRD” towards the sky. When I hear him now, in his raspy voice he renames me mama, my hands knot the same way they did on the day he finally came home, in a rigid cocoon of blue wool and baby powder, this peculiar eggshell who was born with fight and wonder, to be handled with all the sensitivity of cotton candy melting in the sultry humidity. My beautiful strong baby boy. My little Hercules.”
He was quiet and his eyes were tearing. We talked about how he came home from the hospital a day after Riley because he was having trouble breathing and he decided it was because he was a gentleman. “Ladies first,” he said. YES! My heart soared and my emotional intelligence kicked in.
It’s always going to be a work in progress and I won’t always completely succeed… but here we go, my OLDEST baby.
Turning the false negatives into positives.
I’ll do my very best to never again let you forget your worth.