Dear Jack,

This morning, your babysitter was sick and could not take care of you.  Then your Lolo and Lola came by to take your Kuya Charlie with them to visit your Tito Eric.  And so, without planning it, I got to spend my whole day with you.

I took you with me in the baby carrier to do all my mundane tasks:  to the post office to drop off bills and check my post office box; to the bank to make a deposit; to Ranch 99 to buy sinigang mix for dinner; to the Dollar Store to buy a scrubber.  You looked out from the carrier with so much interest.  You pointed and grunted at all sorts of things:  the airplane flying by, the purple flowers along the sidewalk, the dog chained to the post.  You bared your bunny teeth, kicked your legs mid air, and giggled at every lady who smiled and cooed at you.

When we got home, you shrieked and stumbled your way to the water table.  There, for about an hour, while I watched you from the kitchen, you splashed water on yourself, dunked all the plastic animals you could get your hands on, waved a spoon around.  Then, when you had enough, you crawled up the stairs to the kitchen and pulled yourself up via my legs.  I changed your wet clothes and then we had our late lunch.  I shredded some cheese, broke off some ravioli, mashed a banana, and put them all on your tray.  You hooked every bit and piece with your amazing pointer finger and thumb.  I held your bottle for you while you drank your milk.

After lunch, you pointed at the blanket, your signal for a nap.  I held and nursed you for about ten minutes and you fell asleep.  You slept for almost two hours.

I realized, as I put you in your crib, that you and I had not spent a day like today, just the two of us, since you were about 6 months old.  I felt sad at this thought.  I couldn’t help but think of how different it was with your Kuya Charlie with whom I spent practically every day until he was three.  Your Kuya Charlie and I went for walks everyday, had breakfast, lunch, and snacks together every day.

I couldn’t help but worry that because of this you may not feel close to me.  Is this the reason why you seem so independent?  Is this why you prefer to feed yourself- I can count the number of times I’ve spoonfed you!  If I weren’t still breastfeeding you, I don’t know how else I would be bonding with you.

I’d like to believe that my worries are unreasonable.  Many babies who were reared by someone other than their mother or father still grow feeling close to their parents.

I guess this is what it means to be born second.  You will never know what it is like to be the only object of your parents’ attention.  For better or worse, you not only have your Papa and Mama in your life—you have your Kuya Charlie, too.  Your Kuya loves you and does anything to make you happy:  snort like a warthog, hop on one leg, tickle your toes.  When I’m not close by, you always have him to keep you company and he’s very attentive to you.  At the same time, your Kuya Charlie also tries to take everything he wants away from you:  sand shovel, blocks, books, me.  But I already know you don’t let your Kuya Charlie push you around.  You know how to shriek and throw.

First born or second born- it doesn’t matter!  I love you, Baby Jack!

Dear Charlie,

Today you spent the whole day with your Lola and Lolo.  When you got back, you turned your rubbery lips towards me, told me you really missed me- namingaw gyud ko sa imo, Mama- and then you fell asleep.

You don’t realize how lucky you were to have my sole attention up until you turned three, when Jack came along.  It is unfortunate that you don’t have actual memories of all those nights and days we spent together.  Ironically, all you know now is that you don’t have my full attention whenever you want it because there is always Jack whose needs always seem to come first than yours.  When you want me to look at you doing your headstand and Jack cries, I have to look away from you and check Jack first.  When you still want to play outside with me but Jack starts to fuss, I have to go inside and make sure Jack is alright.  I know how it seems like to you- Jack comes first.  I know you don’t like it.  I have heard enough of your intense tantrums to know how much you “want to be first!”  in anything- to be picked up, to be toweled, to be given food, to be put in or taken out of the car, etc.  I know you don’t yet understand that you had three years of getting mama and papa’s sole attention.  All you know is the now and that now Jack is taking me away from you.

Despite all that, I am amazed that you never have taken your rage out on Jack.  Instead you love to make him laugh.  You do anything- snort like a warthog, hop on one leg, throw a bell, make faces, anything- just to make Jack laugh.  When you and Jack are around other kids, you always tell them to be careful around Jack.  In the morning, when Jack wakes up and starts to cry, you come to our room and tell me baby Jack needs some “booby”.  I know you love Jack.

Here’s hoping you boys get along because, well, you have to.  You have each other and you both will be better for it.

First born or second born, it doesn’t’ matter.  I love you Kuya Charlie!