To my firstborn,
It’s not always easy being the eldest, I know.
A little over two years ago your life, as you knew it, was about to change. You were about to be removed from your only child status and we were bringing in a, very noisy, very demanding, attention seeking little brother. Though we didn’t know he was a brother at that point, just that a baby was about to land.
We worried, we panicked and we fretted over the fact that this was happening. We thought long and hard about the effect it may have on you and how best to introduce you both. Turns out we needn’t have worried because you took it all in your stride. Loving him from the moment you turned up at the hospital to meet the newest little man in our lives.
Since then it’s been a rollercoaster, one filled with love and laughter, but a rollercoaster nonetheless as we settled into life as a family of four. New dynamics, new roles to play. Lessons learnt parenting you adapted and amended.
People often think that it’s hard being the second child, or the third, fourth. Sometimes it’s the middle child who is deemed to be most hard done too. That by not being the eldest you are left to a life of hand-me-downs and always having to share, everything from toys to mummy and daddy. Not much is said of being the eldest, like you my sweet boy. Like me. Like Daddy.
Being our firstborn, and really our first experience of all things baby, you were our practice run. Our learning curve. You were the one who has borne the brunt of any mistakes we’ve made along the way. And, still, it happens even now we have two of you to parent. The fact is as you get older you are still the first experience we have of every stage. You’re the first one through the terrible twos, the threenager years and right now the f*%&!g fours. Those lessons we learn about parenting you are digested and passed onto your brother. He is the one afforded more freedom, less mistakes because we’ve already been there. With you.
With you I learned the hard way the type of parent I want to be. That, regardless of how you both sleep, an attachment parent. However fed up I get up of being one. I discovered that I was more crunchy than I ever thought I would be, breastfeeding and babywearing. I found I didn’t want to sleep train you, but only after heartbreaking nights of tears. Now when you call we go into you. We jump in your bed and calm you down. Your brother has been the one to benefit from this, being the two year old that still doesn’t sleep. He is the one that has had Mummy head in night after night to settle him down. You were the learning curve. The realisation. The understanding.
With you I discovered food. The joys of weaning. The endless efforts of pureeing organic and feeding you like a baby bird for months on end. Until one day you finally had enough and threw it at my head, then realising that independence was what you wanted. The chance to explore food at your own leisure, tastes and textures. It took time for me to introduce the occasional treat in your diet, your brother had them from day one. By then I’d realised that treats aren’t necessarily a bad thing. That I didn’t want to be a parent who says no. You taught me that I believed a little bit of everything did you no harm. You taught me about chocolate kisses and carrot cake dates in coffee shops.
With you I have learned tolerance, I am trying to learn patience. I am discovering the worlds of endless questions and finding the time to answer each one, which leads to more questions. More answers. On and on until I can take no more. Each day I get better, each day I have room in me for another why? Another what? Another Mummy? With you I get more patient each day.
With you I become more like the parent I want to be and because of you your brother will benefit. He will know the joy that you paved the way for, the laughter of a thousand raspberries blown, the speediness of nappy changes and the patience of a mum who has done it before, realising that you cannot be rushed. You cannot be moved.
Then there are the times I am hard on you, and baby boy I am so sorry. As the eldest I expect so much of you, I make you old before your time. From being turfed out of your pram when your brother came, giving up your cot for the big boy bed and for most of all being expected to be the shining example. That you are most of the time.
Yet it isn’t all roses. It isn’t always easy. As you both get older there are the inevitable fights, arguments and scuffles. Over toys, food, attention. I am too quick to judge, to heap blame, to remind you that you are the older one. The wiser one. My sweet one, you are four. Whilst, yes, you should know better it’t not always easy when you have a two year old whirlwind aggressor pulling your hair. It’s not always you. I know that.
I am learning with you each day.
I am passing that on to your brother. I am applying those learnings to our future journey.
To my firstborn, it’s not always easy being the eldest. In our future I sense there will be shouts of it’s not fair, why is he allowed to do that? I wasn’t allowed until I was…. and I know it won’t feel fair. And in part, I agree with you from my poor deprived eldest status myself. But know this.
You, my firstborn, are the one that made me a mother. A parent. You are the one who has taught me everything I know about parenting, and you are the one who first stole my heart. Whilst it may seem that your brother has it easier, that’s not the case. With you I have grown, I have understood and I have learned.
I will always love you, and despite the mistakes I feel I am making on the way, I hope that you feel the same.
All my love,
Mummy x x x