More sure of myself as a mom—and yet, having greater awareness of my flaws—there are benefits in being the youngest child. I’m more in tune with what works and what doesn’t. I’m definitely less strict but in some ways a bit aloof from the whole idea of parenting. It’s easier to let things go, which is partly why the youngest is accused of being spoiled.
By the time you came around, I had a greater understanding of how parenting isn’t a formula and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. Still, it doesn’t mean you were immune to my mistakes.
I oftentimes teetered between holding you too close because you are my baby (a title the youngest is stuck with regardless of age) and letting the reigns go so loosely that I might have appeared disinterested. It must have been unsettling to not know which way I’d go. But being a mom to the youngest is scary, because it’s my last chance at doing things right. It forced me to look at my own failures and inconsistencies. It showed how far I’ve come but also how far I have to go. As a result, I was often disappointed in myself and therefore, took it out on you.
At times I didn’t think I had what it takes to be a good mother. I didn’t know what to do when you clammed up and refused to talk, when my mother heart knew something was wrong. You probably felt less important when you discovered there were fewer pictures and videos of you. I wonder if I missed important moments because I was too busy. I’m sure that sometimes I was too wrapped up in what your siblings were doing to notice your world. I probably didn’t trust you enough to do the right thing, which made you suffer the consequences of the wrongs made by your brother and sister.
For every mistake—real or perceived—that I’ve made, I apologize. If I could take them back, know that I would. But more importantly, know that my love for you is fierce and unconditional. And there is nothing that could ever change that.
My hope is that when I say I’m proud of you, that you believe it. Not as a result of anything you have done or will do. I’m proud of the person you are and the young man you are becoming—which includes your mistakes. Perfection is not something I have (or will ever) expect from you. If I didn’t do a good job at showing this to you, I hope you know it now.
Thank you youngest child, for putting up with my sometimes impatient and controlling ways. Being the youngest isn’t always easy. But you’ve done well. I am a much better person because of you. You have taught me a lot about laughter and not getting so worked up about little things. And for that, I am grateful.