Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Second Child Shaft

I probably shouldn't write this post, but since it's my blog and I'll say what I want to say (and who really reads this, anyway?), here goes!

DISCLAIMER: This does not in any way apply to the grandparents. Grandparents are, I think, genetically engineered to love, care, and spoil their grandchildren on a whole level that I won't even pretend to understand until I am a grandparent. My parents and Alex's parents are no exception - the love they have for Amelia (and the baby in waiting) is unmeasurable. They're awesome grandparents!

Both Alex & I are first borns. I was the 1st grandchild on my mom's side, and the 1st grandchild on my dad's side in quite a few years...I was spoiled. My whole life I heard from my baby sister how unfair it was that I got to do XYZ before her just because I was older. She would tell me the older sister got EVERYTHING and she got the leftovers. Mostly, I dismissed her because she was being a big old baby. [I still maintain that she was a bit dramatic in this area, but I'll explain in a bit.]

Being a parent, I now see some merit to her complaints. When you have your first child, you are hyper-sensitive to every little thing, mostly because you find yourself in the position of being totally responsible for this little human being and it's scary as hell. You don't know what you're doing. You read all the books, talk to your friends, and just give it a go. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But no one could ever accuse (most) first-time parents of being laid back when it comes to parenting their first child.

Let's face it - the first child is really the practice child. By the time your second comes along, you have things mostly figured out. You're not as uptight about things as you were with your first. You now know that babies cry sometimes for no good reason. Sometimes they sleep for a long stretch of time and skip a feeding. You also know that kids are going to fall down and hurt themselves, but they'll be OK. It'll start hurting you LESS than it hurts them. And it doesn't mean that you love your second child any less, it just means that you GET IT.

And then there's the toy/clothes issue. Yes, second children do get hand-me-downs in this department. Come on, it just makes financial sense. I assume this whole hand-me-down thing stops once the second child is old enough to get what's going on. But while you have a baby who could care less if they're playing with a toy or a piece of paper, it's silly to re-buy things.

So, yes, dear baby sister...sometimes it just isn't fair to be the second child. But here is where I will defend my parents. [Hear that??? My mom probably just fainted.] Other than the things that I was LEGALLY able to do before my sister (go to school, drive, legally drink, go to the casino), my parents never really gave me anything that they didn't give my sister. Granted, we're only 20 months apart, but still. If I got a Cabbage Patch Kid, so did my sister. I don't ever remember having a later bedtime or curfew than my sister. I would even go so far to say that, once she was out of the baby stage, my sister never really got my hand-me-down clothes. Usually, my parents (mom) bought us the same outfit and dressed us like twins, but that's a vent for another post! :)

And that is how I think it should be done when the kids are that close in age. I don't know what Alex & I will do when raising our 2 children because there will be 2 1/2 years between them. Fortunately, we don't have to decide that just now. I do know that our second child will get some hand-me-downs, and the ?benefit? of having more laid back parents.

HOWEVER, what I DIDN'T expect when thinking about the "second child shaft" was that it started during pregnancy...or that it came from other people. I guess most people just assume that since you've been through it before, they don't really need to check in on you as much. And that's fine. Would it be nice? Sure. But it's not necessary. It just wasn't what I was expecting.

So, on behalf of first born children everywhere, I would like to formally apologize to second kids. I once was blind, but now I see. Sorry you sometimes got the shaft.

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