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Birthright

November 3, 2007: Day 102

You are the lucky one. Birthwise, that is. Your mother has been coming home with a box of diapers every now and then. Stocking up, she says, to spread costs over time and soften the blow. Yesterday, I saw Winnie the Pooh bibs on the kitchen counter (yellow, of course) when I came home, and I suspect your grandmother may be responsible for those. My mother has taken her daughters-in-law to Gatlinburg for the weekend, and I think she brought those bibs with her. Your mother will return from her trip with clothes for you, I am sure.

Your younger sibling won't enjoy anything approaching the level of attention you've had during your pregnancy. We'll be too busy with you, taking care of you, reading to you, peeling grapes for you (seriously -- you could choke), to devote as much time and energy preparing for pregnancy number 2 as we did for number 1. Number 2 will have to peel their own grapes, or brave the skins alone. The infant clothes you wear will be the same clothes number 2 will wear, with the added fashion statement of the stains you left behind... and if you are both the same gender, number 2 will be wearing your stains for years.

I won't write as many weblogs to number 2. We won't take a weekly picture of your mother's belly. She'll forget to take her prenatal vitamin and omega-3 supplement more often. You'll learn to read sooner than number 2 because we'll read to and work with you more. These things are unfortunate realities for number 2, but a boon for you.

Starting when I was 6 or 7, until I was maybe as old as 10, I would ask my mother who her favorite child was. Her answers were appropriately non-committal: she loved us both equally, she said. I obsessed with the question for two reasons: one, I had a brother after four years as the spoiled only child; and two, his health problems earned him coddling and attention I never knew. I understand now that my mother's evasive answers were truthful. A parent does (or should) love all their children equally, but that doesn't prevent the firstborn from enjoying an unfair advantage because of the excitement and newness the parents experience the first time around, both before and after birth.

Someday, years from now, when you are a toddler, and your mother and I have a second child, you may feel forgotten when we bring home a new baby. You may act out, and, if you are old enough, you may experience a most unpleasant emotion, jealousy. If you experience these emotions, you will perceive your situation as unfair. I felt that way, too. Not until years later did I see things from a different perspective. In fact, it wasn't until I began writing this weblog that I realized what I actually lost after the birth of my brother wasn't fairness, at all. In reality, I had lost part of the unfair advantage of being the firstborn... just a part of it.

What I considered unfair was actually a leveling of the playing field, but the field can never be perfectly level. No matter how many babies we bring home after you, you will always be the first. Your mother and I will always devote that extra effort, that unfair advantage, to prepare you and us for your milestones. Walking. Talking. Learning the alphabet. Reading. Spelling. Writing. Making friends. Going to school. A second language. Memorizing multiplication tables. Algebra. The first relationship, first kiss, and it's painful end. Driving. You'll always be our first child to do anything, and that means we, your parents, will always spend that extra time sweating and fretting for you.

:: Bryan Travis :: 11/03/2007 @ 15:53 :: [link] ::
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