I could write so many posts with this same title… The experience of being a mom for the first time is like no other. I know that if you are one, you think you’re not the “typical first mom”. I thought I wasn’t. I had a lot of experience with children so in that aspect, I wasn’t. I wasn’t at all intimidated by holding a new baby, and things like that. But I was very much a “typical first mom”! I only know that now, so go ahead a re read this if you have more kids down the line and let me know if you realize you were one too! Those of you that have more than one, can I get a witness?! You learn so much with that first child. But you learn all new lessons as you keep going down the line. Even if your first child is your only child, your understanding of motherhood is ever-changing as you grow along with that precious bundle. (That becomes not so precious when the pod people start to take over in the pre-teen years and then gain complete control in the teen years!) Regardless of how many we have, we always realize looking back that we were particularly hard on our first born. It’s a strange mix of having babied them like crazy because they were our whole life, but expecting quite a bit from them. I have a video of my oldest sitting as a very small baby. Literally, an infant, trying to reach a bowl that was in the floor next to him. I was saying “you can get it, don’t give up.” I watch that video now like “Just give that baby the bowl!” I mean, he did eventually get it, but mylanta, it was a bit obnoxious to expect him to!
I was trying to figure out why we are so hard on the first one and I think I know what at least part of the reason is. I think it’s because we haven’t yet really grasped that our child is human like everyone else. We really do think that child is perfect, and thus want to make sure everyone else realizes it too! And not in a sense of showing off, just wanting people to appreciate how truly special our child is. Now, every child is special, but as we get some parenting under our belt we realize our kids are gonna make bad choices just like everyone else. Our kids are human and everyone else doesn’t see them as the center of the universe, even though we do. If my oldest misbehaved in public I was mortified. Actually my first or second. It’s a good thing I had my kids in the order that I did, because my littler kids are way more difficult than my first two, and I would have long decided I’m just the worst mom in the world had the 3rd and 4th come first. Thankfully before they came along I had already started to learn, and accept the dreaded fact, that my children aren’t perfect. That’s not to say I don’t still get anxiety over certain situations, but I’m better at accepting it. You see, then I also always felt like their behavior meant I was a good mom. I now know that some kids are just harder to handle, and even if you are a consistent, just parent, you can not fully control some people. So while extreme situations still mortify me, the simple wining in the store doesn’t make me feel like I must be doing something wrong because my kid isn’t acting right. I get looks that imply that, of course (yeah thanks for that, as if the tantrum isn’t bad enough!) but I know that it’s not always my failure.
The oldest also gets the brunt end of the deal when you do have more because they’re expected to act right because they “know better”. Isn’t it funny, my oldest was 7 when Gracie was born. He seemed like such a big boy to me. At that age, I expected him to act right and would say “you’re 7 years old.” Now, looking back, she’s 6, almost as old as he was then. But she doesn’t seem so mature to me. And he still gets “you’re 13 years old, she’s only 6.” Even though he was expected to “know better” at 7. I’m not saying she gets by with everything, she doesn’t, I’m not dumb, I know she knows what’s what. But he’s still the one that I expect to make the right choice in spite of everyone else because he’s the oldest. I am very careful not to give him responsibilities that are unfair though. So while I might ask him, or Carly (2nd child) to fill sippy cups before we leave the house, or grab diapers, I don’t ever hold him totally responsible for his siblings. (except on the rare occasion that he babysits one, but that’s never more than 2 hours.) But in some homes the oldest has to take on that responsibility due to circumstances. If that’s the case for you, please make sure to give that child some “down time” to just be a child. And I think we should all spend a bit of our energy making sure our oldest knows how special they are to us, and that even though we might expect a lot from them, we are very proud of them and love them just as much as when they were that tiny baby that changed our life!
Smile through the Trials,