Hey there young man who happens to be my firstborn, the kid that made me a mum, the lover of most things I DON’T like and one who truly keeps me on my toes.
You asked me yesterday why I was always teaching you things. I was offended for three minutes, but then I realised that is just the way you are – honest. I took a moment to reflect and realised that I must seem like a blabbering, crazy, woman/dictator in your life. So I have reverted to my comfort zone. WRITING.
Bear in mind as you read this, I love you but you drive me nuts.
[PLEASE NOTE: All lessons to be learnt are highlighted in bold. I know how often you claim to be “bored” so please feel free to just take in the highlighted parts. (Or, you can shock me and read the entire thing).]
Here we go.
I was 20 when I got married. By the time I was 21, I had you. In fact you came one month before our first wedding anniversary! Back then, I was the first amongst my circle of friends to be having a baby. And I really, truly thought it would be a walk in the park. Parenthood is like trekking through the Amazon jungle. In the dark. Without shoes.
Naively, I didn’t read many books about pregnancy, birth or beyond and regrettably I went into parenthood resisting the natural callings of being a mum. Knowledge is power. Arm yourself with knowledge.
Admittedly, I suffered from what I now know as Hypermesis Gravidarum (and then suffered again with your sister and younger brother). So in fairness to me, for 36.5 weeks I was what your dad would call “a zombie”. Daddy was amazing, despite having no idea what was going on. When you become a husband/dad, the power of empathy is intense. In fact, empathising with anyone’s plight is humbling. Try it.
Nobody around us had fallen sickness with this, and consequently, I just “put up with it”. Never “just put up with something”. Find answers, ask ask ask!
And suddenly, we were a family of three. I became responsible for another human being! You occupied my heart and mind 24/7. You became our guinea pig. You were the tester to our parenting skills, and you still are. You will always be the first in our family. Please share your life experiences with your siblings.
And this next part is where I say sorry. I’m sorry that you will have to endure this, probably for the rest of your life. I am sorry that it will always be asked of you “to look after your brother and sister”. Or “Come on son, your older than him/her, just give it to her/him”. Or “Please set a good example to your siblings.” And so on. Please set a good example to your brother and sister.
I kid you not, at 8 months old I had you signed up to Gymbaroo and Osteopathy sessions. I even decided that the usual kindergarten wouldn’t do, and would drive 40 minutes to a Montessori Kindergarten. FORTY minutes. And because I didn’t want you to whinge, I would bring the portable DVD player along with us (this is of course pre- amazing iPhone days). Don’t make life harder than what it already is.
And then there was the whole sleep thing. I just never got it and ultimately we suffered together. By the time I “chose” to put us on a routine, I was so strict that life became boring. I needed to you to eat, sleep and drink at the exact time of the day, every day. And if something clashed with our timetable, then we simply would not compromise. Routine is helpful, but there is always an exception to the rules.
Of course listening to a million different opinions DOES NOT help. Like “oh, you should stop breast feeding, he’ll sleep through the night quicker on formula.” You were 4 weeks old when I stopped you from nursing. How rude of me to suddenly “need” you to sleep through the night at 4 weeks of age. First listen to your gut instinct. Then ask your mother. And THEN research. In. That. Order.
And then I heard that reading is great for the baby, so, rain, hail or shine I dragged out those books. Often you would kick and scream and want to “play”, but I was determined. How mighty of me to enforce something that you would end up loving, when I let you be? Everything happens in good time.
You were 2 when your sister was born. And suddenly you had to “be quiet, your sister’s sleeping”. Because she too came early (by 27 days), suddenly you were placed in a big bed! There wasn’t any warning, chat or even a slight indicate that you were getting evicted from your room. Communication is important.
At the park, you loved the swing. More than anything I have ever seen. But I would always set you a limited time on the swing. Timers are for baking, exams and random game apps on the iPad. Not for things like having fun on the swings.
The thing is son, first children will always be (possibly) for the rest of time, the same for each parent. They will always be the ‘unknown’. You are a big reason of why I now parent your siblings the way I do and thanks for that. When your little brother chucks the biggest tantrum, I breathe and remember – this shall pass.
So before you think that your childhood/infanthood was terrible, can I take the pleasure to remind you of some things I did for you?
– We lined up for 2 hours once, to get Ben 10’s signature at some show I paid a gazillion $ to watch. TWO HOURS.
– You have never missed a birthday party. I call it First Child Syndrome. (Your baby brother got a home made cake on his 1st birthday).
– Homework time is entirely dedicated to you and the betterment of your education. Your sister gets the leftover time I have before I need to prepare dinner.
– I once sat on the plane floor, while you took my entire seat to sleep. It was an 8 hour flight. You’re welcome.
And so, I can choose to look back and feel that hindsight is so painful. But I am here to tell you: hindsight is wonderful. Live, learn, discover, learn again and move on.
Now please stop hatin’ on the fact you are the eldest when in fact you boss those siblings around and you love it.