My Second Son

You know when you have eaten popcorn and a kernel gets stuck somewhere between your tooth and your gum? It is a mild irritation, and it comes and goes for a bit, but then it becomes more painful until you give focused attention to finding and dealing with it? Weird analogy, I know. But I feel like there has been a popcorn kernel stuck in my heart and mind this week, something foreign and out of place, a mild worry, a low-level fear that has been demanding attention. 

You see, our two first boys are a whopping 14 months apart, which means that the first year or so of our second son Eli’s life was a bit of a blur. With two babies who couldn’t talk, slept in cribs, and needed full and undivided attention, there was little time to savor and sit still those first few years of almost-Irish-twins. The upside to this is sons who are indeed best friends, who do everything together, share the same passions and toys (often well, sometimes martially). We buy everything in twos, in two different colors; essentially we have twins. 


And yet they are not twins. They are in different ages and stages, though often they blur together into one, a lot like Samneric from Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Joy and struggle, gift and burden are two sides of the same coin. Our greatest strengths in life prove to be our greatest challenges. And this is true of our second son, who was born with a best friend just one step ahead of him.


After a few play dates this week (see, I told you I was committed to them, stressful as they may be), the popcorn kernel in my soul was screaming for attention. Eli is beginning the struggle to figure out who he is apart from his beloved brother, and it is hard to watch him do so. In an effort to find and remove this pesky popcorn kernel of guilt and worry and fear, I wrote this poem.

My second son, I see you there, standing safely in your brother’s shadow.

I bet you don’t think we see past him, you sweet and silly little sparrow.


I know he always seems a step ahead, in swimming and biking, and such.

But you have your own unique gifts, and the world needs them very much.


We love your love for one another, and its something both rare and true.

But we want you to know more than y’all; Son, we want you to know there’s you.


A sweet you that’s unsure and hiding, clinging to a bond of five plus years.

Sweet Eli, I see your heart wrestling with these deep, inexpressible fears.


We are longing to draw you out, to meet the little man that is you.

I can pray and cry and set the stage, but this is something you have to do.


There’s a family that can’t wait to meet him, and there’s plenty of room right here.

We are here to champion you through every victory and failure and fear.


But you have a perfect Father above, and He sees all your days as one.

He knows well the Glory you, and the revealing has already begun.


So as you step and trip and run, Know that we see you, second son.




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