Almost a decade ago, your dad and I were married and promptly couldn’t wait to adopt you. We found you online, you had been dumped and awaiting a home. Your dad wasn’t sure, as he hadn’t grown up with anyone like you. He soon came to love you but probably never as much as I did. I had dreamed of this day since I was little- having one of you as my own!
You were the center of our lives. Walks, trips to the park with your friends, baths, treats and gifts on your birthday. My social media feed was you and more you. Your first year was documented in a scrapbook. Yes, a scrapbook. You made some questionable judgment calls on things you chose to consume, landing you in the ER for a couple of nights and a hefty bill in our mailbox. But, you were worth every penny.
Five years went by, and we decided to add someone new to our family. Friends had warned me how our relationship would change when this new little one came, but I didn’t believe them. Every frame in our home had your goofy face centered in it. You slept in our bed. You had a personalized toy box, a personalized overnight bag for the grandparents. How could I ever forget to let you out to go potty? Or take you on daily walks? How could I ever not give you your preventative medicines on the exact day every month? Or God forbid forget to feed you? What kind of parents were these people who did this?!?
On a blazing hot August day, your little sister arrived home. You had on a pink and white polka dottedbandana that I had made for you for this special homecoming. You weren’t sure about her and tended to avoid any room where she was present. As you shifted from room to room dodging our new guest, my feelings towards you shifted, as well. You were now second fiddle, no longer number one. Your dinner came second, if we could remember at all. Your needs came second. Sleepless nights had us wondering who had let you out last or when the last time you had been on a walk. Baths were a given no.
Having a new baby in our house made me crave calm and peace more than ever, and you were the opposite of those things. You started to drive me crazy. Quirks that I used to find endearing, like your happy cries when your dad got home, now were like fingernails on a chalkboard. Guests would come over to meet our new family member, and you would knock things and people over with excitement. I found myself putting you in our bedroom when visitors would come to help keep the peace then feel guilt when they would ask where our beloved firstborn had gone. Locked away in our bedroom. What kind of parents do that?
With your quirks came your wonderful qualities. Tolerance, gentleness, and patience with your sister. Walking incredibly well next to the stroller. Coming back when called (mostly) if you chose to go for a joy run to live on the edge. You had incredible vacuum-like qualities, decreasing our need to clean the floors to a minimum. You were happy, go-with-the-flow, and had a take whatever you could get attitude.
We’ve since added another family member and you have adjusted beautifully. No more scrapbooks have been made for you, your medications are generally on time, we take you in for checkups. You don’t get baths as often, trips to go swim, or car rides. Your face has turned white and you like to sleep more than you did 10 years ago. My feelings toward you often depend on my energy level that day, and I apologize that I take a lot of my stress and frustration out on you. So many times you are just one more thing that needs me, or appears to need me. You just want a pat on the head or to be acknowledged.
Long before imagining having a family or getting married, I dreamed of having a dog. I grew up with a lab just like you and couldn’t wait to have a “fur baby” of my own. What I had not experienced was my own human baby. Some people say it’s the same. I love you, my firstborn, but it is not the same. Nothing in my wildest dreams could have prepared me for the love I have for my kids. It’s a love I thought I knew when we brought you home. But a love that I’m glad I’ve had, because you were the first.