June 30 09

Some days I really feel like I have failed my second-born.

He was born just 20-months after his very, very spirited, high-maintenance sister. She was needy of my attention from the get-go. I mean, this is just a little thing, but a perfect example of the way things were: The day Josh was born was pretty well the same day my 20-month old petite little thing stubbornly exclaimed “I won’t wear diapers anymore!” so, as my newborn son tried desperately to get both attention and basic needs from his mother, I was hoisting Emily’s little heiney up onto the toilet 47 times a day.

Emily was never content to play on her own; and Josh always was. Emily needed constant feedback; and Josh never did. Emily wanted, nay needed, to do x,y, and z; and Josh was just content to go with the flow. An easy baby. A baby I thanked my lucky stars for. He napped (Emily never did), he liked the car seat (Emily never did), he liked the stroller (Emily never did). EASY. requiring very little effort.


(so maybe I didn’t put enough in? maybe I didn’t put any in…)

Josh NEVER got any time to have me, just me, his mommy, without Emily. Well, maybe he did. once. I schlepped Josh with me on Emily’s play dates. I schlepped Josh to Emily’s music classes and dance classes and swimming classes. Josh got the old organized-class shaft, because I couldn’t very well sign Josh up for something – what would I do with Emily? right?

and when he was 18-months-old I went back to work. and when he was almost 3, I gave birth to his baby sister. and then somewhere, somehow when I wasn’t looking, my second-born turned 6.


I guess I always thought, naively, and perhaps misguidedly, that I was the girl, so I was the one who would mold the girls into, well, girls. and the husband, well, he was supposed to do the BOY molding. what the hell did I know about boys? But the husband, well, he didn’t. He didn’t teach Josh to ride his two-wheeler. He didn’t go to the park to play catch. He didn’t drag Josh’s ass onto the ice to improve his hockey skills. He didn’t put up a basketball net. He didn’t help him with his swimming. He didn’t help him with his THs. He didn’t arrange play dates for him. He just didn’t do these things. so, I blame him. Often.

but really, I should be blaming MYSELF. Yes, ME. The husband didn’t do these things for several reasons I’m sure (and I used to always think it was because his father didn’t do them with him) but mostly, it was because he couldn’t. I needed him at home. I needed his help. I needed a break. I needed him to work late so he could drive morning carpool. I needed him to work late so he could take the kids to the dentist. I needed him to work late so he could take Isabella to see Dr. Dots.

Now Josh is SIX YEARS OLD.

and I have failed him.

Because he was an easy child. Because he was EASY. and life was hard.  and between my work and my work and my work, he was hit the hardest, because he demanded the least.

In a week from today, I will officially switch from being a work-in-an-office from 8am to 4pm mom (plus all the work I do each night on the jobs that “aren’t my day job”) to being a full-time work-at-home mom. and in a week from today, I will begin a very important project that involves someone very important.

my son.

I am being given a gift. It is a gift I don’t deserve. But it is one that HE DESERVES SO BLOODY MUCH. I will be taking him to t-ball and helping him with his catching. I will be arranging play dates. I will be listening to him read (holy crap…my son, his reading, it’s ridiculous. He may even read better than I do). I will be reminding him to stick his tongue between his teeth when he says “teeTH.” I will help him find the things he’s truly passionate about. I will set aside time in my day for “Mommy and Josh.” I will learn about transformers and bakugons and light sabers and chaotic and pokemon and try to understand what’s so cool about them. except Transformers. I already know what’s cool about them. I will teach him to ride his two-wheeler.

I don’t want to see this anymore. I want to drag Emily to something that’s HIS.


and I can’t wait to see the star he’s going to become. The star I know he is. We just have to find it. together.


  1. What a darling little guy you have πŸ™‚

    Comment by Rhi on June 30, 2009
  2. Are you trying to make me cry????? Poor little Josh.I’m so glad you are gonna make time for him. It’s so easy to get caught up in the girl stuff… Boys need less and get happy much more easily, so lucky for you he won’t make you feel bad for the rest of your life like a girl would.

    Comment by Rayli on June 30, 2009
  3. awww .. makes me want to cry! You will have an awesome time hanging with Josh .. and little boys, they need their moms soooo badly!! That is a gift .. lucky you to be a wahm!

    Comment by Sarah on June 30, 2009
  4. Oh Ali, I don’t have kids, but I know you and I read your posts and I know you love ALL of your kids. And I’m sure they know it too, but I’m so glad you are getting a chance to take the time you want to.

    Comment by slynnro on June 30, 2009
  5. wow.. i just adored this post Ali.

    I feel that way often, and I have twins. One of my daughters is easier than the other, so the other often times gets the shaft. And the Jewish mother guilt sets in big time.

    I love that you are going to cave out time. You ARE very lucky!
    .-= maya´s last blog ..Hell no we wont go! =-.

    Comment by maya on June 30, 2009
  6. This was a beautiful post…really. As a fellow mother of three, I know how you feel about struggling to give enough of yourself evenly (if there is such a thing) to meet the needs of each one. It’s so easy to let the easy ones just coast and so hard to remember that just because they don’t demand your attention, it does not mean they don’t need it too. Thanks for the reminder!

    Comment by Sara on June 30, 2009
  7. I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think, but I totally understand how it feels this way. I only have two, but my daughter is SO much easier than my son and so she seems to get short shift…and still my son is INSANE with jealousy all the time even though he gets more attention WTF? But how great that you will get to spend some one on one with him, it will be wonderful.

    Oh, and? You have to learn about the Go-gos Crazybones…have you heard of these things? My 6 year old (and apparently his whole school) IS NUTS for these things!

    Comment by Kathy on June 30, 2009
  8. You made me all teary, Ali.

    I totally know how you feel. One hundred and ten percent.

    I’m excited to hear about your adventures together. xo

    Comment by Angella on June 30, 2009
  9. Oh Ali, I only have two and I know exactly how you feel.

    What an awesome opportunity you’re getting for both you and your son!

    Comment by Jennifer, Playgroups are no place for children on June 30, 2009
  10. He’ll be ok. I truly think it’s a 2nd child thing- the first one overshadows everything and leaves the others to walk in their shadow. And learning about all those boy things is fun – I know enough about Transformers to write a thesis.
    .-= Teri´s last blog ..Ups and Downs =-.

    Comment by Teri on June 30, 2009
  11. Such a beautiful post…

    And how wonderful that you will be able to work full time from home..

    Comment by Chrissi on June 30, 2009
  12. I’m already starting to feel that way about my second. We have a week together soon, just us, while her sister is at her grandparents, and I’m looking forward to it.
    .-= kgirl´s last blog ..I Can Make You Scared =-.

    Comment by kgirl on June 30, 2009
  13. I worry about this too, so much. That was a beautiful post and I can tell how grateful you are for this opportunity. YAY!!

    Comment by Rebecca (Bearca) on June 30, 2009
  14. man, i know too well about this as well. though, i’m a lazy slob, my oldest still gets more attention because she’s used to be the only. moira is used to be apart of a family with more than one.

    you are a good mother and your son knows you love him. life is short and guilt is plenty. don’t beat yourself up.:)
    .-= gorillabuns´s last blog ..lost and found =-.

    Comment by gorillabuns on June 30, 2009
  15. That was a really honest post and I felt your pain. I think it really has a lot to do with the middle child syndrome. Thanks for sharing. I only have one for now and she demands so much of my attention, so I can only imagine I will have the same problem when the second one arrives.

    Comment by Shanna Gordon on June 30, 2009
  16. I have tears in my eyes…good for you for being able to open up like that. I know you guys will enjoy “your time” together!!
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Stawberry Picking =-.

    Comment by Christine on June 30, 2009
  17. Gulp. I need to go hug my kids.
    .-= Momo Fali´s last blog ..Random Realizations II =-.

    Comment by Momo Fali on June 30, 2009
  18. It’s so hard sometimes, but you are right – it’s not too late!

    I hope he takes full advantage and runs you ragged girl!
    .-= Amy @ Milk Breath &´s last blog ..Books =-.

    Comment by Amy @ Milk Breath & on June 30, 2009
  19. Oy vey Ali .. I am balling my eyes out here .. I have a VERY VERY similar story: I had my daughter, and 15 months later, my son was born. But for my case, it was the other way around … When I read your story, it’s as if you had reached deep within my soul .. YOU are a GREAT mom :0)

    Comment by Carla K. on June 30, 2009
  20. Y’all are going to have so much fun together! If he’s into sports, NYO has some great programs in Atlanta.

    Comment by thetutugirl on June 30, 2009
  21. This is such a great post. I feel that way, too, and H is only 10 months old. He’ll shine, and so will you.

    Comment by mrs. chicken on June 30, 2009
  22. Well, you made me feel a lot better about how demanding my son is. He’s definitely doing a great job making sure that I don’t overlook him. In a few months I’ll see how #2 is. I’ll remember this post, too, if I chance to get an easy one! Thanks for writing this, Ali! I hope that you feel better about the situation soon. You are a great mom!

    Comment by Britt on June 30, 2009
  23. What a brave, honest post. I’m so glad that you’re getting the chance to spend some quality time with him. It will be so good for both of you! Congrats!!
    .-= Suzy´s last blog ..DonÒ€ℒt Leave The Light On =-.

    Comment by Suzy on June 30, 2009
  24. I was totally the Emily of my family; the family’s activities reviled around me completely. So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone to see my little brother blossem once I’d gone away to college. I’m sure the 2 of you are going to have some wonderful times ahead of you.

    Comment by MonsteRawr on June 30, 2009
  25. Honestly, as the first born, I know for a fact that you really should just focus on Emily instead. Nobody’s as important as the first born child. NOBODY! /sobs and runs away bawling

    Comment by Avitable on June 30, 2009
  26. wow. you have expressed many thoughts that i have! yitzy being only 16 1/2 months younger than daniella, i feel as if he has been cheated, and in some ways daniella, too. i am sad that i don’t even know what yitzy’s first word was. πŸ™

    Comment by adrienne on June 30, 2009
  27. I LOVED this post, Ali! No, it’s not too late. I went through the same with my two little ones.
    Being home with them without dealing with school helped us… it’ll help you too. πŸ™‚
    You are an awesome mom. Truly. xo

    Comment by Nenette on June 30, 2009
  28. I had to wait for a couple of minutes to comment, because my eyes wouldn’t stop watering.

    This post…it touched me, just the way it touched everyone else who commented. You are an amazing person and an incredible mum. Josh is lucky to have you, and I am lucky to know you.

    Comment by mamatulip on June 30, 2009
  29. Oof. My heart. I love this post (though I know it must have been hard to write)…I relate in so many ways, as I, too, have a more demanding older kid, and an easygoing second kid, and as in your situation, they’re pretty close in age. I find the most difficult thing about that is remembering that just because E is less challenging, it doesn’t mean she should get less attention (despite how that sometimes does happen). You’re right–it’s NOT too late, and I sincerely thank you for the reminder to be cognizant of this.

    (Also? I hope you already know this, but just in case: It’s abundantly clear to me and anyone who reads your blog that you adore all your kids to pieces. xoxoxo)

    Comment by metalia on June 30, 2009
  30. I love you. I love this post. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve been struggling with something very similar tho the second born gets more attention because the high maintenance older one is driving me bonkers. LOL

    Comment by sam {temptingmama} on June 30, 2009
  31. I don’t necessarily think you’ve failed him, per se. As you admit, he needs you less than Emily does. Some kids are just like that.

    My sisters both depended on my parents a lot more than I did; I never felt like they neglected me or that I was less important because I needed less from them. (I felt that they did a shitty job for a whole host of other reasons, but not that.)

    I think you will both benefit from the extra time, and that you’ll grow closer because of it, but I don’t think you failed him.

    Comment by SciFi Dad on June 30, 2009
  32. Yup, yup, yup – look I have no real answer for you but as you know, we have kids about the same age…and Toby as the middle child has missed out too! My eldest is an attention sucker and the little one, well she is my baby. But Tobs goes with the flow and the upside is he makes my life so easy. Good luck and try not to be so hard on yourself, ok?

    Comment by Heidi-ho on July 1, 2009
  33. Beautiful. Simply beautiful You made me think about my own kids and struggles. Thanks so much.

    Comment by Corina at Down to Ea on July 1, 2009
  34. *sob* You made me tear up!
    You’ll find that something. You’re a good Mama and I know you won’t stop till you find it.

    Comment by Karen Sugarpants on July 1, 2009
  35. Excellent post. As a middle a child, I know he would appreciate the attention.
    .-= William´s last blog ..My First Car. =-.

    Comment by William on July 1, 2009
  36. Man, Ali, making me cry at work.

    I’m a middle child, so I know that growing up, sometimes it was hard. I was never all Jan Brady-like, but my brother and sister have birthdays 6 years and a day apart, so in Feb, I was totally forgotten.

    I think your mission to make this time for him will be AWESOME! It will mean the world to him.

    But, I hate that you say you’ve failed him, because you haven’t. You clearly love ALL your kids so much. And I’m sure Josh knows how much you love him. And you’re a great parent.

    Comment by Kristabella on July 1, 2009
  37. *tear* I could have written this exact post, except that my oldest is a boy. But VERY high needs. Special needs in fact. And my second born? Laid back, easy going. Wonderful, sarcastic, charismatic little boy. I’ve tried to make time for just him though because I was a middle child myself…and HATED it. But I fear it’s never enough as his brother and 2 year old sister DEMAND so much attention. I feel ya…I really do.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Ah, the joys of toddlerhood =-.

    Comment by Lisa on July 1, 2009
  38. I feel that way with my 1st. It’s never too late to turn things around, though. I’m sure your son will appreciate every second of time you take getting to know him.

    Comment by Crystal on July 1, 2009
  39. I read this post with such a lump in my throat. It’s so easy to pay less attention to the child who doesn’t need as much. I’m glad you’ll be able to spend quality time with your son. This move will be good for all of you.

    Comment by pat on July 1, 2009
  40. Obviously, I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I think even THINKING about it means you’re not at all a failure. AT ALL. I THINK I MIGHT NEED MORE CAPS TO MAKE MY POINT.

    That’s probably sufficient. πŸ™‚
    .-= Moose´s last blog ..Or Maybe I Just Need Some Really Good Drugs =-.

    Comment by Moose on July 1, 2009
  41. I have similar issues with my son. He’s just so EASY and I tend to let him keep being easy and he gets pushed to the side. My poor baby. Your poor baby. THOSE POOR BABIES.

    Wait…I’m not making you feel better am I?

    Comment by Karly on July 1, 2009
  42. Good job. You’ll do great. It’s wonderful that you see what needs to be done and willing to do it. I have a similar issue except backward — it’s my 2nd one that is high maintenance, so my oldest has to go from all the attention to it being the 2nd kid that the world revolves around. It must be annoying and disappointing. Like you, we’ll get there!

    Comment by Wendy on July 1, 2009
  43. Grew up in Waterloo Ontario, and it was a remote. Live in Vancouver with my Manitoba born husband and it is a remote. I *have* heard converter, but really, it’s a remote.

    Comment by Mandy on July 2, 2009
  44. weird… my response for another post ended up here. Sorry for that.

    Comment by Mandy on July 2, 2009
  45. […] « not too late. […]

    Pingback by Cheaper Than Therapy » Blog Archive » Oh, and this was Wednesday. on July 2, 2009
  46. oh man. my oldest is high needs. my second easy. last night, the oldest caused all kinds of issues at bedtime. i had promised 2nd a quiet book and cuddle and i just couldn’t do it because the 1st was being just sooo disruptive. i felt so badly for yet again, failing my 2nd. ugh.

    Comment by meanie on July 2, 2009
  47. To me, you sound like a thoughtful, sensitive, VERY BUSY mother. And this from the voice of experience: when he’s grown up, and you try to explain how you felt that you hadn’t been a brilliant mother to him, he’ll look at you in genuine surprise and say “You were a WONDERFUL mother!” Enjoy this time with him and relaaaaax….

    Comment by rachel on July 3, 2009
  48. Love this Ali
    I hope you have lots of fun playing with Josh

    Comment by lisa b on July 3, 2009
  49. wow, i really loved the honesty of this entry!

    enjoy your time with him, it’s never too late πŸ™‚

    Comment by Bronnie on July 5, 2009
  50. You know what I like about this post? It REALLY shows how much you love him. I’m so glad you’re going to get your time with him!

    Comment by Rachael on July 7, 2009
  51. Omg…I know I’m late reading this, but I teared up!! Ugh – it’s SO the same thing in my house – Rylie has definitely gotten the shaft with attention seeking big sister Taylor. I feel your pain. But really, the topper to your post was the pic of him sitting with his head in his hands while you posed with Emily, heart tugging! He is sure to be nothing short of ecstatic to have a little bit of the spotlight. πŸ˜‰ Enjoy!

    Comment by Sara on July 8, 2009
  52. […] what I wanted this year. To find what he likes, to foster it, to encourage it, and to cheer him on. It really isn’t too late. And one day he may forgive me for showing up to his practice wearing my pajamas, because, you know, […]

    Pingback by Cheaper Than Therapy » Blog Archive » Looking For Fluffy on August 23, 2009

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