There's Nothing Like the First

No, not that first. This is a PG (or PG-13) blog, at least most of the time anyway.

In my family, the "first children" seem to get top billing. My mom has often told me of the special privileges she received growing up as the eldest of five children not so much from her parents (my grandparents), but by her grandma, her aunts, and her Godfather. It wasn't as if these individuals went out of their way to slight my mother's siblings, but my mom always felt as if she was her grandma's favorite, her aunts' special girl, and the daughter her Godfather never had.

When I was growing up, my sister and I were the first grandchildren in our family. We had unique bonds with our grandparents and great aunt and uncle that still exist today, while our younger cousins, while still loved and valued, do not. When I was a child, my grandma was my second mother. I never wanted to leave her house. My sister had a similar relationship with my great aunt.

And so it's going with Isabella, the first great-grandchild in the family. To say she is a rock star is to vastly underestimate the appeal and draw of my two-year-old. My mother's entire world revolves around her. Ever since Isabella was a baby, each time either my mom, my grandma, or any one of my aunts comes to visit, they bring something for Isabella-clothes, her favorite snacks, a new book or toy, etc. As I've written here many times, everyone has something to say about even the most minor decisions I make concerning her. Most of the family converges on our car each Sunday as we pull into my aunt's driveway to welcome us (read: Isabella), and anyone who is still there when we leave waves a huge goodbye as our car pulls away. The hubs and I have walked into relatives' houses and have almost been trampled by relatives eager to welcome Isabella. They don't see us or talk to us, even though they're passing right by us, because their entire focus is on Isabella. We're the roadies. She's the star.

In many ways, I love that Isabella is so treasured. She absolutely loves being the center of attention (what kid doesn't?), and to be surrounded by so much extended family love is a gift so many kids whose relatives live elsewhere don't have.

But my concern is for the twins. There isn't equal gift-giving or attention paid. Will the twins always be "the twins" instead of Luci and Nicholas, and will they always receive second billing?

When my mom is here, she focuses 100% of her attention on Isabella. She has three grandchildren, but Isabella is clearly her favorite.I think she's afraid of showing the twins any affection in front of Isabella, lest Isabella think her grammy loves the twins more than she loves her. And I understand this. I was very concerned about this very thing when the twins were first born. I still make every effort to include Isabella in everything, and I give her as much extra attention as I can.

My concern isn't so much for the present, because let's face it, our 300-year-old neighbor with a face like the Cryptkeeper could hold Luci and Nicholas and they wouldn't care, but more for the future, when they're old enough to notice disparities in the way they're treated. Because if it's blatantly obvious to me and the hubs now, it's not going to be long before they're able to pick up on it too.

All three of my children are growing up surrounded by an incredible amount of love, and this is something for which I will always be grateful. But I'm beginning to wonder if any children arriving after the first are considered "old hat." It seems like that's the way it's worked in my family, although certainly not to an obvious or cruel degree. But the subtlety is there nonetheless.

The first child, or grandchild, or great-grandchild is the chosen one. And the rest? Just part of the flock. A much-loved flock, but a flock nonetheless.

I'm curious about how the second, third, fourth, etc. children in your families are treated. Am I just being hyper-sensitive?

14 Responses to “There's Nothing Like the First”

  1. # Blogger Jesser

    This is an interesting question. My sis and I are the firsts in our family on one side and the last on the other. We definitely had special treatment on both sides. On my mom's where we're the first, I would say it was more "different" from my cousins. I noticed later that my grandma got somewhat more lax about rules, etc. with the younger kids and they just had different things that they did with them. But I do think we probably got more doting and special presents (it is easier when it's just one kid). On my dad's side, where we're the youngest, we were definitely treated differently, but mostly because we were the only real grandkids. My aunt's kids lived with my grandparents for a while and were more children than grandchildren a lot of the time. My sister and I were there just to be spoiled and doted on, dicipline be damned. :) That's not really an answer, but the way it was for me.

    Tabby is completely the rockstar. Matt's family FIGHTS over her and I have to say, I was honestly pissed when on mother's day they all came to our house and I didn't get so much as a "hello" in return when I came downstairs and greeted them. My family is nearly as bad and she certainly receives tons of attention and presents. Many have commented that it was good to have another so Tabby wouldn't be the ONLY. Ben has had his own rockstar like following as well, but they're the firsts on both sides, so we'll see.  

  2. # Anonymous Kristin

    It's funny- because I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Brody gets ALL of the attention from my dad. And while Kasen may only be 14 months old, he is starting to realize that he gets left home when Brody & Pap get to go out. He definitely doesn't get the attention that Brody gets. But Brody isn't the first grandchild. I have a niece who is 3 years older.

    I assume the differences lie in the fact that Brody is the first boy, and that he is named after my dad.

    My mom tends to devote more time to Kasen- her namesake, but certainly it isn't equal. I am hopeful that once they are a bit older and Kasen is a bit more independent, that my dad will come around. But somehow I doubt it. Brody will always be the apple of my dad's eye.

    Now the other side of the family? That's a whole can of worms that is best left alone. I will simply say that my in-laws have seen Brody twice in his life and seen Kasen once. They would never have met Kasen if we hadn't gone broke to fly out to them. And all the while- my mil is offering the oldest niece, nephew, and parents free plane tickets. But that goes much deeper than who had kids first. =)  

  3. # Blogger Momma K

    Right now, my boys are given just about equal attention by our relatives and friends. Tucker, at 21 months, still has that baby pudge and gets a bit more "awwww, he's so cute!"

    When Tuck was newborn, Gunnar (2.5 at the time) definitely got more attention from Nana for the very reason you mentioned. She didn't want him to feel overshadowed by new baby. I'm thinking that your family might change their tune a bit once they can interact more with the twins. The babies are kinda cute blobs right now, but when they can play and talk, they will definitely nab some more of that spotlight. If not, then I really think a talk with the fam is justified.  

  4. # Anonymous Ness @ Drovers Run

    It's the same here - that is, my mom, with my eldest son. She loves the youngest one dearly too, but it is NOT the same. I wonder why that is?  

  5. # Blogger Mom24

    My oldests' birthday is tomorrow. I was talking to my mom today, and she started going on and on about how special he is (and he is), and how incredibly special he'll always be because he was the first. It really took me back. I love all of my kids, they all excite me very much, maybe in part because we went through so much longing to have each of them. I can't imagine my life without any of them, and I resent my mom for having favorites. (Boy, it felt kind of good to say that.)

    Julianna (number 4) is also her favorite, blatantly, and it drives me crazy. Julianna recently lost her first baby tooth, and my mom told me she was going to send her something. I said, why don't you just send a card, I don't think you sent the other kids anything. So, she sent a card to Rebekah, Jacob and Julianna with money in it for each of them, and a note that apparently she hadn't sent them anything when they lost their teeth, so here it is. Passive-aggressive anyone? Grrr

    Anyway, it is hard to see your children treated differently. We try to smooth it when we can, we interfere when we think it's necessary, and I think we do a good job not doing it ourselves. It's hard, but I think it's important to be vigilant so it doesn't breed resentment down the road.

    Good luck. :-)  

  6. # Blogger Veronica

    You might be just a touch hypersensitive.

    I was the oldest grandchild from my father's side, but that didn't give me special billing. And on my mother's side of the family, my three older cousins didn't get top billing after I was born (I was the STAR because I was a girl!).

    You know, my sister doesn't notice a difference, and there was one, because I came first.

    I do think you're a bit worried because you don't know how it's like to be the middle child or the youngest.

    But my boyfriend (the youngest in a family of six) and my sister (the youngest) will tell you that it works out fine.

    Because they do get to be the "babies" of the family. The oldest usually ends being (or having to be) the more responsible one. The "babies" will get to goof off and play more.

    It's a separate issue the idea of the "twins" as one entity versus two. And I think that normally happens with twins -- some of it welcomed, some of it not. I think because Luci and Nicholas are not of the same gender, they won't be seen completely as one "unit" which will be good for them later on.

    Don't worry too much. Your kids are going to grow up great. They're very lucky to have your entire family at their disposal.

    P.S. While the babies are still babies, I think you'll see that people give Isabella the attention. Just wait until the twins start walking and talking -- it'll change.  

  7. # Blogger Damselfly

    Hahaha! I can relate to feeling like my child's roadie -- he's the one the family wants to see and talk to, forget saying hello to me!

    My guess is only time will tell as Luci and Nicholas get older and your family can see their personalities forming and they can do more. Maybe it's just as you suspect, that they (at least some of them) want to continue to lavish Isabella with attention so she doesn't feel Luci and Nicholas have outshone her.

    However, I'm far down the line and not the first anything in my family, and sometimes I have felt it. But it doesn't really matter to me.  

  8. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    I don't think you're being hypersensitive at all. We're the moms, and we love our kids equally. I want them all treated the same, darn it! I was the oldest grandchild on both sides as well. On my dad's side, I was certainly the favorite, and everyone knew it. Now this was fine and dandy for me...I got what I wanted when I wanted it, but my cousins resented me for it like crazy. I think some of them are still a little miffed to this day.

    So while I liked it at the time, I will not have that happen for my own kids. My mother knew exactly what was happening, and she never said a word. I, however, usually tell it like it is. I have already made it VERY clear that there better be equality between everyone or someone is going to pay the price. What is the price? I have no idea, but if I start noticing someone getting favoritism my family knows I'll be pissed, and they know I'll address it verbally. Now, all of what I just said has to do with MY husband's family is a different story. Come this fall, my mother in law is going to be keeping my new baby nephew two days per week. I anticipate some unfairness...and I'm going to be watching her like a hawk. If I start to notice anything, then I'll have to sic my very unwilling husband on her. While he hates dealing with stuff like this, he knows it's smarter that he deal with it than me doing it, because in situations like that...I'm not that nice.

    I know I just painted myself to be a royal pain in the rear. I really am a nice person most of the time...I swear!!  

  9. # Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    Justin was the first baby on both sides of our family. The first grandchild, nephew, etc. He was even called "The Prince." Everything he did was nothing short of a miracle. Seriously.

    Thank God my niece was born to deflect some of the attention.

    Now there are 7 grandkids and my youngest nephew is likely the last. He is spoiled rotten!! HAHAHAHAHA! I feel bad for him. Really, it's not the best spot to be in... Special relationships are fabulous but having all those adults thinking Justin was PERFECT was rough.

    As the twins age, their personalities will demand individual attention. They will get it. Just wait and see!  

  10. # Blogger In Due Time

    Maybe it will change as Luci and Nicholas get a little bit bigger and more aware.

    Oddly enough, I feel like the rest of the family "loves me more" than the other kids, but I feel like my parents don't love me as much as they do my brother and sister.

    I'll be interested in seeing how the family treats my kids. I feel like they might/could slight them a bit compared to A because A's homelife is drastically different from ours, KWIM?

    Have you talked to your Mom about things?  

  11. # Blogger Shannon

    My sister and I were the last grand children on my dad's side and the only one on my mom's side... on my dad's... we were an after thought in everything... all of my cuzs played softball/football... me I hated softball and played soccer... I was into funky music and art... they all pretty much teachers or have a butt load of kids...

    BUt both my mom and Jeremy's mom have said Lore is their fave... and this one isn't even out yet... and I have told them both off on that and so help me god if they pull that crap they won't see either of them... so ha lol...  

  12. # Blogger kenju

    My three kids were treated equally well by their grandparents (my side), although they clearly preferred the youngest child. My daughter's four kids are treated equally by us - at least that's what we aim for. I always prefer babies, if there is one around!  

  13. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    I get in on the conversation a little late, and there are no pearls of wisdom let for me to give! I agree with those who've said that once Luci and Nicholas get older, once they are able to play and talk, things will change. :-)  

  14. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    I notice this with my niece (5) and nephew (2). My niece gets ALL the attention from my parents and my nephew, who was born just 5 mos. before our boys is hardly ever mentioned.

    Not sure if it's also a girl/boy thing, but our boys get a lot of attention so I really don't think so.  

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