Why I No Longer Envy Firstborns


You’ve all heard it: First born children often struggle to adjust to having siblings because up until that they had mom and dad’s complete, undivided attention. Those first few years are blissfully spent with parents at their instant beck and call. And it doesn’t stop there, as the first child every new thing is discovered by them-first. They walk first, talk first, potty train first, go to school first, go to an extra curricular activity first, drive first, date first, go to college first…By the time the next child does any of those things, it’s old news. As a third child, I envied my older sister, thinking that ” the oldest” was much better than being “third in line.” Since having my own “first born” I am rescinding that envy, and replacing it with a hearty dose of sympathy.


Yeah, first borns get the undivided attention of mommy and daddy those first few years because, lets face it, mommy and daddy have NO CLUE what is going on. I have tried so many different things with Cade, from diapering to feeding to sleeping to playing to travel and most of the time I was so frazzled by all the conflicting advice and methods that I’d end up trying a little bit of everything to figure out what worked. First born children NEED those first few years with exclusive attention to make up for all the screw ups mommy and daddy practice on them! I know every child is different, but at least with the second one you’ve mastered SOME of the basics-like how to put on a diaper, how to hold them, how to burp them, how to nurse (a biggie for me!), how to play (ie, having a whole repetoire of silly games to run through to find one that works instead of playing peekaboo for ten minutes and wondering why your son is crying before you figure out he prefers that you just blow obnoxiously in his face…), and various other tricks that work not only for baby but for mommy and daddy.


And it gets worse, not better, because first born children are ALWAYS first born. So mommy and daddy continue to scramble to figure out how to discipline, what ground rules to lay, what activities to try, etc,., and the first born is the guinea pig for it all. I’m pretty sure my dad wouldn’t have allowed my older sister to pierce her ears until she was thirty without mom’s intervention. By the time it was me and my younger sister’s turn the age was down to eleven…or was it nine? I’m not sure if he could even remember the rules Rebecca had to endure by the time Rachel and I came along (we were VERY helpful in “remembering” when Rebecca could or could not do certain things…minus a few years…). It helped, too, that we were sisters. Our brother-although second in line-still got some first born issues for being the first (and only) boy.


So first borns everywhere, boy I’m glad I’m not you.


And Cade, I really hope your brains aren’t completely scrambled yet, because we’ve still got your whole life to make mistakes parenting you. But we love you, and I hope that helps.


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