Yesterday you asked me why your older brother always gets to choose. We were staying in a vacation rental and I’d given him the choice of beds since he’s the tallest and the most likely to be uncomfortable. “He’s always going to be older,” you said, “so he’s always going to choose.” You imitated me in a perfected ‘mom voice’; “‘Malachi gets to choose because he’s ten’; pretty soon it’s going to be, ‘Malachi gets to choose because he’s eleven;'” you laughed and I laughed, but I understood that your question was real and you felt something deeper than you let on.
I also understood that I was guilty as charged.
Sometimes I don’t see that you get lost in the shuffle between oldest and youngest. I miss it, and I’m so sorry.
You’re big, but you’re not the biggest. You’re little, but you’re not the littlest. You’re strong, but you’re not the strongest. You don’t know the most about math or reading. You can’t run the fastest or stay up the latest. Someday that will change, but for now this is your truth. Sometimes I think that is a lonely truth for you.
You little sisters are handfuls in their own right. They still need us to brush their teeth and roll their salad into a tiny ball to help them eat it. You don’t need that much help anymore, but you still need some.
You’re older brother is becoming a pre-teen; his body odor and the rules for him are changing. As he grows and changes, I can see that you feel a little left behind. You want to keep up, but it’s not quite time.
You are in the middle: “not there anymore” and “not quite there”.
And that son, is right where you belong.
Let me tell you something, let me set the record straight from now until forever:
YOU ARE SPECIAL.
YOU ARE UNIQUE.
YOU ARE SO SO VERY IMPORTANT TO US.
No one else on the planet could fill the place in our hearts that belongs to you. We will never give it away and we will never share it with someone else. That space is for you and for you alone.
It doesn’t matter to us if you’re the strongest or the fastest or if you know more things than your older brother or your younger sister. We love you for you. You don’t need to hurry to catch up, or try and slow down. You are special to us because you are you and you belong right exactly where you are.
We love you, we love you, we love you.
There’s never been someone like you before, and there will never be someone like you again. This family wouldn’t, couldn’t, be the same without you. You are the core, you are the rhythm, you are the piece of upmost importance.
You have a fabulous heart and kind intentions. You have the best sense of humor and you are the protector of those you love. You are an observer and you notice things the rest of us never would. You are diligent about justice and fairness. You are quick on your feet and keen in your observations. You aren’t loud. You choose your words, you think deeply, and when you speak it matters.
I’m sorry, Son, that sometimes you feel lost in the shuffle. I’m sorry that you sometimes wonder where you fit and if you belong. I’m so sorry that sometimes you notice that your vote and your voice don’t seem to matter as much. That’s my fault and I will work on it.
I’m learning Son, thank you for teaching me.
You may not be the tallest or the oldest, but next time we stay in a vacation rental I want you to choose.