Dear R, and I’m sure L, and any other little siblings you might have one day:
I hope that you don’t see the massive photography collection we have of your older sister and feel left out. We have pictures of her from practically every hour of those first days, practically every day of those first weeks, and practically every week of that first year. We have pictures of her sleeping. Hundreds of them. The lighting is different in some of them, although she mostly looks the same. We have pictures of her smiling. Some of them are blurry, but you never know when we might have needed that perfect little shot so much that we wouldn’t have minded the blurriness.
And then there’s the baby box. The baby footprints. The gimmicky birth certificate, the first meconium-stained hat, the basket, the insane assortment of items with her name emblazoned on them, the silver spoon, the albums that actually have photos in them am I forgetting anything?
There are whole weeks of your life, even your earliest little life, that are completely unrecorded by any camera. You don’t have a birth box, and I’m pretty sure I threw away the record of labor from your birth. You don’t even have a box of those “special outfits” that I set aside because they were so clearly yours and not to be handed down. You don’t even have one outfit that is “yours.” You don’t have a doll that we bought to match your eyes. We’re really struggling to think of birthday or Christmas presents for you, because your sister already has everything. You should probably have the experience of opening presents, though–maybe we could wrap up some of her old toys?
But here’s the important part, dear younger children: none of this has anything to do with how much we love you. No, wait, maybe it does: maybe we’ve learned how to love better, in fact, and so we spend more time actually with you and less time accumulating proof for later. Look at the bright side: there are fewer pictures of you crying than there are of her; more times that Mommy put the camera away and picked you up instead! And those missing birth records? They got lost in the struggle to juggle a one-year-old and a newborn. And we learned, too, that it’s better to keep just the really important things, and let them be the important things, than to try to keep everything and have it end up on a shelf in the basement or hidden inside deeply nested folders on a remote hard drive.
So don’t mind that those early minutes of your sister’s life are so much more recorded than yours. We held you sooner, and longer, and there were more arms here to welcome you when you arrived.