michael buckner/getty images file photo
“Oh, it’s your brother calling. I’m sure he’ll have something funny to say. He always makes me laugh, my first-born.”
How many times have I heard that?! I know my mom’s teasing, but I think there’s always a little truth behind every tease. I usually smirk, or brush her comment off, but once in awhile it bugs me.
I’m sure it’d be worse if my older sibling and I were the same gender. The comparisons would be tougher. I may be the baby of the family, but I’m also the only daughter, and that’s hard to beat. My brother, well, he’s the first-born son — the apple of everyone’s eye.
I don’t blame them, really. He had gorgeous golden-red curly hair, big blue eyes and a huge, open smile. His face was full of laughter, his eyes would twinkle, and his curls would bounce with his belly full of giggles.
Truthfully, I didn’t suffer through my childhood, in second place on the sibling ladder. In fact, I never knew it was an issue until much later when my mom started this first-born joke of hers.
But here’s the thing — I now have a first-born son who’s the light of my life, the apple of my eye. And no matter how many children I have to follow, he’ll always be my first-born. And there’s something very special about that.
I guess what my mom failed to get across until now is that there’s nothing like that first pregnancy, that first newborn, those first few months or years where it’s just you, your partner and your baby. And although most parents treat each child as unique, special and loved as such, it’s never the same as the first time around.
A woman’s first pregnancy is usually met with wide-eyed wonder and incredulity: How does Mother Nature work within our bodies to create another human being? Besides our daily routine and jobs, our spare time is often spent reading about the mysteries of pregnancy and childbirth, and marvelling over our growing bellies.
And when the baby arrives, as we care for our precious bundle, the world seems to stop as we stare endlessly at the miracle we’ve produced. Several months, dozens of sleepless nights, and hundreds of diapers later, we wake from our haze and begin to incorporate our new family member into our lifestyle.
None of this applies to any subsequent pregnancies and/or children. It’s not for lack of wishing for time to coddle the belly, or stare at the newborn, but while the world may have stopped the first time around, your toddler or pre-schooler isn’t going to give you a second’s peace — heavily pregnant or nursing their newborn sibling.
So, to all you first-borns, I say: Be grateful for the precious alone time you had with your parents; and to all new parents: Appreciate the time you have with your first-born.
But for goodness sake — don’t joke about it with your other children!