February 5th, 2010

Coming in Second

Becca Sanders

Lately I’ve been obsessing over daughter F.’s room. Unlike son H.’s room, which was carefully planned, painted, and furnished, her room is a bit of a hodge-podge. It used to be husband J.’s office. We left it the same yellow-gold color he had chosen. The furniture consists of a dresser that used to belong to son H., a toddler bed a kind neighbor gave us, and a child’s table and chair set I got for free years ago and have never gotten around to painting (and it needs it, badly).

I fear that F. is the classic second child: the child who gets the leftovers and the hand-me-downs, the books with loose bindings and the toys that are “pre-loved.”

I, too, was the second child. There are far fewer pictures of me in the family albums. My baby book is almost entirely blank, with a few loose pictures tucked in the front cover. And how many times, back in my adolescent years, did I run into a friend of my mother’s and have the following conversation?

Friend: “Oh, you’re J.’s daughter! You must be L.!”

Me: “No, I’m B.”

Friend: “Oh, you’re the other one.”

Me: (sigh)

I remember well that feeling of second place, of being runner up in a race that started long before I was born. As I looked around F.’s shabby little room the other day, I felt that old pain rather acutely.

So this is my spring project: to get F.’s room furnished properly (yet thriftily), pulled together and fitted out so it doesn’t look like it belongs to the second child she is.

Of course our second child isn’t less loved than the first. It’s more a case of our free time decreasing exponentially with each kid we’ve had. It seems I have far less time to take pictures of our days; I’m  too busy getting through them.

And me, I’ve never been that great with time management, also known as “getting around to things.” Take my kids’ baby books. Unfinished? Ha! Neither either of them even have baby books.

On that score, they’re even.

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