The Weight Of The Firstborn
Firstborns, like Myself and my Ellie are a very special type ️. We are born into responsibility, whether we like it or not; the responsibility of teaching our parents how to care for a new soul, and by default, to be a gold star example for any siblings that should come along. That’s a lot of pressure for a new being who’s also trying to learn who they are as an individual.
"Firstborns...are born into responsibility, whether they like it or not."
This pressured space, is a big bonding area for Ellie and me. To be gentle hearted with a rock solid core seems an impossible way to live at times.
We feel it might be easier to choose one or the other; live completely shut off, or free as the wind with no regard to the consequences (perhaps, like younger siblings seem to). But neither one feels completely right, all of the time.
"She always seems relieved that I would even ask..."
At times I'll ask Ellie, “Is it hard to be a big sister sometimes?” She always seems relieved that I would even ask. Firstborns don’t always feel as though the weight of their responsibility is even noticed or considered by others.
Over these precious years, Ells and I have built enough trust between us that she can say, “Yes,” out loud to me, “it is hard, Mommy.” I can see her mindset shifting into the comfort of knowing she’s in a safe space when I say, “I know, Baby. Mommy is a big sister too.”
"I know, Baby. Mommy is a big sister too."
"...Fairness. Security. Comfort."
Feeling validated and seen, she will usually continue with a list of reasons...“It’s hard because I feel like I’m always the one that has to say sorry first to my sister, I sometimes have to clean up after her, and I don’t get picked up and carried as much as she does. I have to walk because I’m big enough to walk.”
Mommy Reading between the lines: Fairness. Security. Comfort.
Life won’t always be fair, and we have those conversations too, but these moments are not for that. In these moments, I stop to remember what has always soothed my own heart, and I pass it along to the daughter that God gave to ME for a reason. If that reason is that I can hear my younger self talking when she speaks, and that I have an ocean full of experience to draw from, then maybe I am more prepared for these moments than I think I am most days.
"We are not just, 'Mom & Dad : Life Consultants'... We are Mommmmy and Daddddy..."
I will constantly remind her that she is not the parent. I am. Looking out for her sister should come out of love, but ultimately she is not responsible for her sister. I am. She can let go and be a child. Firstborns should literally be TOLD this. I also remind her that she will always and forever be my baby. Just because carrying her is difficult for me at this point, she can and should come sit on my lap because I WANT her to. I'm her Mommy and Dad is her Daddy. We are not just "Mom & Dad : Life Consultants... we are Mommmmy and Daddddy.
"Firstborns don't give themselves permission to let loose often, but when they do... everyone feels it..."
When there is a sense of security for my Ellie, she feels safe enough in her core to take more RISKS, knowing that we will catch her if she falls. She lets loose. She remembers that she is a kid. Her imagination lifts itself back up to 100%. Firstborns don't give themselves permission to let loose often, but when they do, the family foundation shakes and everyone feels it, and we are all better for it.
"...With responsibility comes PRIVILEGE."
Yes, I expect more of Ellie than I do of Irie because she knows and understands more, currently. The important reminder for me, though, is that what I should expect of her is in relation to what she's learned so far and to the experience she's had, balancing it all with a gentle nudging her out of her comfort zone as we move along in life. Yes, she IS held accountable for more things than her little sister is at these young ages, but she also has more privileges. There is a saying, "With privilege comes responsibility." The idea is only complete when we also flip it; "With responsibility comes PRIVILEGE."
"...and what She Says Will Shift The Whole Atmosphere."
The pressure of the firstborn is weighty, yes, but the VOICE, the WORDS, the INTENTION, and the ACTIONS of the firstborn also carry weight. Ellie may not be the "squeaky wheel", but when she says something, even in a whisper, it is heard and it is felt. She speaks up when something needs to be SAID, and what she says will shift the whole atmosphere. It is in her nature is to observe, ponder, and internally measure before taking action, and her words reflect it, so they are always heavily considered by those in her presence.
...And after writing this entire blog about Ellie and power she will always carry, I look at these photos and see only my baby, always and forever... and THAT is the weight of a Mom. <3
**If you are a younger sibling and your feathers are ruffled, check out this short Mama Morsels episode where I talk about the power of my YOUNGEST daughter; how it brought me to my knees, and how I am better for it. :)
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