A few weeks ago, my first born came to me with “the face.” I was in the kitchen cooking dinner as my three children were in the playroom, supposedly cleaning it up. She looked sad and I could tell tears were building in her eyes. When I asked her what was wrong, she burst into tears and said, “Its just not fair! Not fair that I’m the only one that cleans the playroom, I always have to give up the toys I’m playing with, and I have to let H (my middle child) decide what games we play!” I hugged her hard and told her I loved her.
She was right and it breaks my heart. My firstborn is so responsible and such a natural leader that I expect her to understand and be flexible when her little sisters aren’t getting their way. Even though my oldest may have had the baby doll first, it’s easier to have her give things up than listen to the other two whine or cry for something. Is it fair? No, but sometimes in the moment it brings a majority of us greater peace!
I don’t like to stereotype, because every family is different, but mine does follow the “typical” birth order scenario. The oldest is responsible, organized, and trustworthy. She is a natural born leader and rule follower. The middle one is outspoken, energetic, tests boundaries, and questions everything. Finally, the youngest is sweet, sincere, and loves to keep up with the big girls. However, all three are very headstrong and determined, so this can often lead to arguments and power struggles.
I work very hard to help my oldest feel as though things are fair. I was talking to a friend recently and venting about feeling guilty when I have her help watch the youngest in the playroom so I can cook dinner. My girlfriend said, “She is a member of the family and is fully capable of contributing and helping you in times of need.”
She is right, my oldest can help, but it is my job to help her not feel so frustrated at times. I have made a conscious effort to balance the sharing, celebrate her actions, and empower her. This has definitely eased her disappointments. I have to catch myself and make sure I don’t allow her to feel this way, no matter how desperate I get!
I understand why she feels it is unfair. I get it, because I am the oldest and I was put in this position time and time again. However, although it frustrated me, the role suited me. As I got older I realized that I loved the responsibility and motherly role. Even at 34 years old, I feel as though I still help guide and keep my two younger siblings in line! My big girl loves her sisters dearly and there are times all three are playing beautifully. I relish in these moments because the relationships between siblings are to be cherished forever!