Love By A Different Name


Me and Ryan

I really believe that the first born child has it harder than the rest. I guess that doesn’t sound fair to the middle children or the babies — but it’s true.

Oldest babies are the test babies. The ones who have to live through their inept first-time parents’ mistakes. The ones who have to live a life recovering from their parents’ neuroses and anxieties about raising a human being for the first time — a foreign, precious, and terrifying experience. The responsibility of being a parent doesn’t really hit you until you’re holding that helpless creature in your arms and looking into those newborn eyes that encompass endless possibilities.

My boy. My oldest. I made mistakes with him. I had him too young. I wasn’t ready for his amazing, life-altering presence. But I did the best I could.

Now he’s approaching thirteen. He smiles less. He rolls his eyes at me. But he’s still Ryan. Funny. Helpful. Neurotic. Imaginative.

He has a learning disability that makes school a challenge for him. Some nights, his homework is almost unbearable for him. Tears well up in his eyes. “What’s wrong with me?” he says, as he rests his head in his hands in utter defeat.

It breaks my fucking heart. I want him to be happy. To know that my love for him is vaster than a billion universes combined. When I give him hugs, he puts his head on my shoulder — and I know he’s slipping away. Away to that tumultuous, angst-ridden place called teenagerdom. And I don’t want him to leave. Because he’ll see me with new eyes. He’ll see the mistakes I made.

And as he stands on that cusp, I’m about to give birth to my last baby. My last boy. A baby I’m ready for. A baby who’ll have more than Ryan. A baby who (god willing) won’t have to go through some of the difficulties that Ryan went through.


As I’ve grown older, I’ve become a better parent — more patient and better able to enjoy the moment. I didn’t have that joy and unceasing devotion when I was young. I wasn’t a bad parent; I just wasn’t ready. I was in a perpetual state of impatience, waiting for that next developmental stage, because — god. It sounds awful, but I just wanted Ryan to grow up already. I loved him with ceaseless intensity, but I didn’t know how to enjoy motherhood. And he had to have felt that. I know he felt that.

So now I’m in my thirties. I have a three-year-old and a new little one waiting to make his entrance into this world. And I’m ready and able to give them boundless patience and tenderness. I’m ready to enjoy every moment of their little lives. It’s not fair to Ryan, but as Ryan has grown I’ve become a better mother to him. And that’s something, right?

Damn it. Here I am, not even a week after writing a post on mom guilt, and it’s here staring me in the face. Fucking guilt. But I’m human, and the best I can do is forge forward as a better mother, giving all my children the love they deserve; love by a different name.

7 thoughts on “Love By A Different Name

  1. I know how u feel. I also made a lot of mistakes with my oldest child. She was the only one i was able to have so i adopted three sisters who took up so much of my time. I put her through two bad marriages and i parented her through guilt. She is now 21 and in the national gaurds, works 2 jobs and is in college part time and lives with her girlfriend but i always feel that wall between us. I was really young too when i had her.

  2. But she sounds like she’s doing well! We as mothers can only do so much. Sometimes life circumstances can get in the way and change how we wanted to do things as parents. You did the best you could with what you had.

  3. What a beautiful nailed-it-right-on-the-head post! I was too young when I had my daughter and I, too, have seen the results of raising a child in the midst of selfishness. However,like you said, it all works out in the end. My parents were older when they had me and, as a know-it-all teen, I was sure I could do a better job than they did at raising kids. By the time I had a kid to raise, I’d forgotten all about proving my parents wrong as I was too busy trying to keep my head above water. I’ve now lived long enough to see many of the same obstacles they faced and I’ve eaten many, if not all, of my words. Our kids will be fine. I wrote a post on the experience as well

  4. teen age years are tough for all children…it does not matter what number they are in the family tree….however, sometimes the ones we think we made the worst mistakes with, surprise you….and at some point in their life, they even thank you….It always amazes me. I’ve felt guilty many times with my first born…it’s tough to make it up as you go along (which is what happened to me with my first born), forging ahead trying to be the best you can as a new mother…

    • Ernesto was just telling me the other day how wonderful of a mother you were. He said he remembers you as this lovely, beautiful lady and how much he adored you as a child. I think that in general people regret the most with their first child. But maybe we shouldn’t feel so bad… statistics show that first-born children tend to be more grounded and successful. And Ernesto turned out pretty damn good. So there’s that!

      • see?? and so will Ryan!!!…and you have so much more patience than I ever did!!
        awww….I love my first born!! (OK so that the others don’t get jealous if they read this) I love them all; but with the firstborn we forge a special link, I guess coz we learn a lot from them….we learn the meaning of being a mother…and, is there anything better than that?

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