a few things that have been on my mind lately. a pre-warning: the tone of this entry is not meant to be aggressive or "im better than you"...intrigued are you? ha. read on at your own peril of being bored...
this topic has been on my mind, for, i kid you not, a decade. since college really, when i started to take stock in who my real friends were and ive been obsessed with it ever since. i am a first born (two younger brothers). dave is a first born (one younger sister). most of my male and female friends from high school were first borns. most of my college and grad school friends are first borns. most of the other people i tend to socialize with with any regularity are first borns. this is not a rule, as i certainly have a few great friends who are not first borns (amy, jody, angela, lily are the first ones that come to mind, though i know i have several more in my life), but they are the minority. also true, many of these first born friends of mine have chosen mates who are first borns. again, not all, but many. what is my point?
im wondering, now that i have X...what does it all mean? why are we first borns drawn to each other? is there something parents do to us? it seems highly likely that there is something specific about being the oldest, the leader, the responsible one. i hear parents say that they behave differently when kid #2, 3...8 comes along because they are more relaxed and know what is worth worrying about and what tricks to use for different situations. but i wonder if something interesting in their parenting style is lost from baby number one to baby number two and beyond. something that makes us first borns who we are. maybe because as they parent us, every age, every stage is new and foreign and approached with creativity and thought/reflection. and maybe once they see the results of those actions, they dont reexamine things for kid number two.
i dont know. i mean, i certainly do NOT get along with all people who are first borns. and i absolutely DO have dear friends who are not first borns. its just something ive found deeply intriguing for quite some time now and as we move and meet new people, i am still finding it interesting that the people i click most with along the way happen to be first borns. i think there is just something about their thought processes, their sense of place in the world, their outlook that i understand and find comforting. and as i say, the idea that parenting style might come in to play to make us the way we are, is very fascinating and thought-provoking. for me.
on another note, the hazing of newborn-dom has also been on my mind. lately i feel like ive had this conversation with a number of different people (parents, or soon-to-be parents).
you find out your pregnant. hooray! you have an easy pregnancy or a challenging one. you deal with this accordingly. you wait, and wait, and wait. anxious to meet the baby. people give you opinions, advice, congratulations, and unexpected (unwanted?) belly pats. you envision your new life, new child, a million different ways. you are stressed about prepping for the babys arrival. do you have enough onesies? the days are going quickly and you are anxious to be "ready". finally one day, one weekend...it all comes together. the nursery is done, the dresser and closet are filled with clothes and the changing table is waiting for its first poop. now you are bored. you have weeks until the baby comes and you are having trouble sleeping and you just want this thing out! come out, come out, wherever you are. things have got to be better once you come out right? right? come out please....please....please!?
and then labor is upon you and the baby is here. thus it begins. the parental hazing dealt out by the newborn. its such a brutal and rude awakening. one that cannot be described or imagined beforehand. you went from weekends on the couch watching movies in your pajamas....to this! your life was calm, flexible, and largely up to you. now it is ruled by a little person who you want to give the best things in life to. the hazing is harsh but of course you deal with all of the serious challenges and time sucks because you are in love. you are nurturing a little soul that you built inside you for 9 months.
im coming to my point. this immense and total life change is the largest life change youve ever experienced, except perhaps the day you were born. nature, however, kindly blocked that out for you. the baby and toddler years demand huge, nay colossal, amounts of focus, energy, time, and creativity from you. you must find new ways to fill your bucket up with this stuff each and every morning. each stage brings new, foreign, challenging hurdles you must find solutions for out of thin air. solutions to match your life, your philosophy, your child. thankfully, i do see (from observing others) that, over the years, the demands become less physical (for the parents) and more mental and emotional. this i am certain will continue to be demanding, but my poor, tired body is so looking forward to a little break.
this leads me to another point, i can see how western society has found any and all ways possible to take "short cuts" when raising kids. while i personally dont agree with some of these "short cuts", i do totally understand the mantra: you have to stay sane. however, i do wish they didnt have to feel like sacrifices. the mom has to give up her image of perfect parenting and deal with the guilt, in whatever amount she doles out to herself. the child and his/her development is affected, in some way. hopefully, only a small way, but they are affected nonetheless when we take one of these "short cuts". and as i mention above, with the first born thing, i wonder if, to stay sane, moms need to take more "short cuts" as they have more children. working moms especially have so, so, so many demands on them. they are some of the most impressive creatures on the planet, and in order to survive, they must find ways to stay sane. every choice made has a ripple effect, the burden is great. dang, love is a powerful thing.
this brings me to my final point (are these really points? i think they are just ramblings). i really only miss, MISS, from my old life...the ability to veg, even just occasionally. i usually performed my best when i got one day per week to sit in my pjs and have nothing required of me. it helped me to restart, refocus, and refuel. i even liked to come home from work an hour before dave, just so i had decompression time. the silence, the freedom, it was like meditating. i was rejuvenated after these "me" times.
as i have had little-to-no "me" time since X arrived, i suppose this means that ive been functioning way below my "best" for some time now. and i think, in some cases, i would agree that that is true. its kinda sad, and this is why i look forward to getting a little more breathing room as she gets older. its in everyones best interest.
last thought i wanted to note down, for myself at least: there is no actual way to know when you are ready to have a kid. and there really is no way to prepare for what your life will be like (short of having no expectations). but i found, for myself at least, that i was feeling bored in my life. yes i loved my movies, pjs, and couch. yes, i loved all the traveling i got to do with dave during college/grad school and beyond. but that was all i had. it could have continued on to the grave like that. it would be a peaceful life, an adventurous life. but it felt like i was driving toward a cliff. nothing on the horizon. at least the idea of family means the road continues and lifes adventures go on, even without you. and i like that. plus, im sure i will be reunited with my pjs, movies, and couch soon enough. and boy, what a reunion that will be! :)
**and in the first instance where i stare directly out at you all from the blog...i was wondering, if youve read this far, if you have any opinions on either of these topics. just cuz im curious**