Growing pains

Growing up as a kid I never stopped to think about how hard being the oldest child was, mostly because I was the baby of the family. Being the youngest, there were certain responsibilities that I didn't have to deal with, while the weight of my world rested on my older brothers shoulders. I can remember many times my brother got in trouble for either something I did, or something he talked me into doing. I never questioned this because like my parents said, he's the oldest and should have known better.

It never dawned on me the trouble that comes with being the oldest until I had children of my own.

Tipped scale

My oldest daughter is only four years old, and even now her shoulders bear the weight of the oldest child position. The day her sister was born she got promoted and demoted all at the same time. She was officially a big sister, but mommy's lap was no longer solely dedicated to her. Mind you, her sister is only two months old, so this is something we are still adjusting to. Juliana was so proud to be a big sister, she would tell anyone who would stand still long enough to listen, I mean come on this was the biggest thing to happen in her four year old world.

As the newness of baby Kamille wore off, Juliana began to realize that the scales no longer leaned in her favor, she had to share the spoils of being cute equally and being the oldest wasn't just a title, it was a full time job. Her days were riddled with bring me this, and hand me that. She would meet every challenge with a smile and eager feet racing to complete the assignment. It wasn't until my husband and I heard her mumbling under her breath that she didn't like babies, after being told to hold on after asking for someone to play with, that I realized that she was being expected to act far older than she was.

As emotionally reactive as all mothers are when their newborns are concerned, I was offended. How could you not like the little pink bundle that had stolen your parents away from you? It was that day that I realized just how tough being the oldest kid is.


Just togetconfirmationon my new theory, I called my older brother. He agreed with what I had just realized; being the oldest child is zero fun sir.

He reminded me of all the times my parents said take your sister, or watch your sister. Once I was born his identity was stolen. He was no longer himself, he was an older brother: younger sister not sold separately. AsI listened to him talk, I could hear some of those same words come out of my mouth to my oldest. Granted it was nothing extreme, maybe five or six minutes of her watching her sister while I made a bottle, but still long enough for a four year old to feel like her life hasbeen turned inside out.

Now that I'm on the other end of the lecture I have been trying to empathize with my oldest.

She's only four years old, andI had started expecting some sort of new found maturity that was supposed to magically form when she held her sister for the first time. I laugh now, because it's almost like I was expecting her to be the third adult in the house; to not cry when she was over tired, or refuse to eat foods that she doesn't like, even though she has never tried them before. I was expecting her to not act like a four year old. Juliana had been give the responsibility of magically acquiring maturity before she had had any life experience, and I had to back track and stop piling on a responsibility that she shouldn't have to deal with.

Being a sister in general would reveal it's own set of requirements in due time, no need to overwhelm her yet. I think that it is natural for parents to expect their oldest child to act like their title implies: the oldest. Itdoesn't make it any easier, when, as the oldest you're still trying to figure your own life out. It's true being the oldest really is a tough job, thank goodness Ididn'thave to do it.

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