To My Firstborn: I’m Sorry

Raising children is a lot like making pancakes. That first pancake is subjected to your overly lumpy batter and too hot stove. By the third pancake you are relaxed and flipping your breakfast with confidence and ease. This is also true in parenting.

I have three children, the youngest of which recently turned four. I look at my oldest son and realize all of the ways I wish I would have parented him differently during those early years. In hindsight I can see the stress I placed on myself and my family as I strived to be what I thought was the perfect parent. How all of the pressure I put on myself and my firstborn were unnecessary and hindered the carefree days I had longed to create.


Whenever I find myself calmly letting life go with my youngest, I am reminded of the agitated state I lived in the first time around. I look at my son and wish I could say these things:

I’m sorry I didn’t understand the importance of a messy face and mismatched socks.

I’m sorry I cared too much about the little things.

I’m sorry I wished you would grow up faster.

I’m sorry I was so afraid.

I’m sorry I let my fear of judgment determine how we lived our life.

I’m sorry I couldn’t let go.

I’m sorry I lost sight of what was really important.

I’m sorry I didn’t see the value in a mess.

I’m sorry I took your tantrums personally.

I’m sorry I let my expectations get in the way.

I’m sorry I didn’t see the value in the everyday.

I’m sorry I didn’t follow my instincts.

I’m sorry it took so long to fully let you in.

I’m sorry I didn’t see the world through your eyes.

I’m sorry I didn’t give you enough room to make mistakes.

I’m sorry I was in such a rush.

I’m sorry I didn’t realize how quickly it would all flash by.

My firstborn came through my parental growing pains an amazing boy. He is intelligent, funny, caring, and wise. I am not sure I came away as untouched by my early choices. The learning curve has been steep, but I’m thankful for the journey and the lessons gathered along the way.


Jessica is a DONA International trained postpartum doula and owner of Fourth Trimester Madison, She has been married for over 10 years to someone who makes her laugh every day and reminds her not to take herself too seriously. Together they have three children- Logan (2006), Liam (2008) and Kate (2011). She grew up in northern Wisconsin but has called the Madison area home since college. She can be found reading cookbooks but not cooking, saying yes to more volunteer work than she has time for (and loving it), on a Netflix binge, or with her nose in a book.


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