“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Monday, September 30, 2013

Born Third

Dear Max,

Today I went to the store and bought you diapers. I've decided that makes it official: we're ready for you. And I think, little boy, that you are just about ready for the world.

You are busy moving all the time, and I know that things are getting to be pretty cramped quarters in there. I feel your pain...since I share it.

I have spent a good deal of time trying to figure you out, your personality, your quirks, even what you might look like. Don't worry. I'm not foolish enough to commit to any preconceived notions just yet. I knew that your big brother Noah would be nothing like your big brother Joey, and I was right. I also know that while I can't imagine a third personality in the mix, that you'll come out and surprise us all by being just completely you.

Being born third is a big deal, I think. I was third in my family, and, like you, I was born much later than my older siblings. This can be hard, little boy, because there are going to be times you'll feel left out, lonely, and even forgotten. I've learned over time that that last is never true: nobody forgets you. They keep right on loving you, even when you don't realize it. Especially in our family.

There will come a time when your big brothers will seem impossibly grown up. It might even be right away, because Joey is eight and when you're very small, eight is a big deal. You are going to feel like you will never catch up to them. I hope you won't try, little boy. You are a blessing to all of us, to slow us down and help us hang on to a magic that was almost lost to us. You will be the sparkles in the air around us when we all want is to be hard and cynical and mature. That's an important job, and don't forget it.

There will come a time when your big brothers really will be all grown up, and you will feel so far from adulthood that it will be like having four parents and no siblings at all. It's the time when the third-born feels like an only child. I understand this all too well, and guess what? If you play your cards right, it's pretty great. You get all the benefits of having a big family that loves you, but of being the complete center of attention. It can get annoying, true, with everyone focusing on all your mistakes and overloading you with unsolicited advice, but love it up while you can. Because before you blink you'll be a grownup, too. That's not something I even want to think about.

And don't forget that while you're still small and your brothers are big, you'll quietly witness all of their mistakes. You'll watch them fail and struggle and make good choices and bad choices. The best thing to do, buddy, is just hang back and absorb it all. They'll never want to hear what you think, no, no--you'll be young and inconsequential during their moments of spectacular failure (a thing you shouldn't feel bad about, since they are struggling and don't want to imagine their baby brother might know better than they do). But do listen. Do pay attention. And by all means, do remember. Because your tracks will cross all those same paths, Max, and when they do, you'll be prepared. You'll have seen it all before, sometimes twice, and you'll already know what works and what doesn't. And you'll have spent so much time admiring your brothers, and sometimes hating them, that you'll get to pick and choose which things about them you'd like to keep for yourself and which things simply don't work. You'll see Noah's unending stubbornness and know when to use it and when to let it go. You'll see Joey's heart of gold and know when it's time to put up a protective armor to keep yourself safe.

You, my darling boy, will be the very best of us all.

Because that is what being born third, late, and last means. And in the meantime, we are waiting to meet you. We are excited! We love you so much already, whoever and whatever you will be. That's how our family works, Max. No matter what, and always.



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