To all the Guinea Pigs

This is for all of you guinea pigs, the test rats, the ones who clear the path, the ones who were the first to brave the womb.

This is for all of you first borns.

It takes a certain amount of responsibility to be a first-born. The type of responsibility that might make you proud one moment and full of dread the next. Sometimes it might feel like too much responsibility.

You need to be a good example for your younger sibling(s) and brave the experiments of your parents at the same time. Your experience might be a bit tougher because…well…you were the trial baby. How your parents fared with you might have dictated your entire family. You might have influenced whether you would  become an older sibling or be an only child forever (maybe not really, but cool to think about. Right?).

You were the one your parents poked, prodded, and tested as they tried to figure that whole parenting thing out. You probably have the most baby pictures and the most space filled in your baby book. You were probably loved and admired by your parents’ childless friends.

But, you were also the one who was the most guarded, protected from harm and germs, bathed three times a day, potentially living in a bubble world (or padded room) where all your influences, activities, and experiences were closely monitored. 😉

When your parents had other kids, you were their guidebook. One they didn’t always follow.

While you might have had to wait to see your first PG-13 movie alone until you were 16, your eleven year-old sibling watches them and it’s no big deal. You might have had to come home by a certain time every night but your younger sibling(s) can stay out as late as you do since “you turned out so well.”

You were probably punished, disciplined, and corrected for even the smallest things while your siblings have it easy (or so it seems). You do something wrong = discipline. Younger sibling does something wrong = “They don’t know any better,” or even worse, “You should have been watching them”.

You are the one your parents always call because they know they can rely on you. Sometimes that means you might be assigned to a certain chore or task forever because “you’re the only one who knows how to do it right”.

Now some of you reading this might think I resent my status and experiences being an oldest child. I don’t. While I’m not saying everything I described has happened to me, I’m also not saying it hasn’t. 😉

I love my family and appreciate my role as the oldest child. However, that doesn’t mean I did not or do not question my position. I might be alone in this but, have you ever wondered why you were the oldest? Out of all your siblings why did God choose you as the first?

I’ve asked myself that question a lot.

It used to bother me. What if someone else was meant to be the oldest, but I cut in line? (This was before I knew the whole story of how we get here.) I wondered if I was really fit for the job.

Then I would spend time with my family and realize it didn’t matter. I am here now and need to do the best I can at the role I was given.

Sometimes the pressures of being the first can weigh a person down along with the pressures and expectations we first-borns place on ourselves. Some of us break under the pressure, bucking our duties, still being an example…just not a good one. Others feel the strain but decide not to show that it bothers them, even though they feel like they’re boiling over inside (Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know). But keeping those feelings hidden might only result in exploding and ‘letting it go’ all at once and at the wrong time (just ask Elsa 🙂 ).

All the pressure might discourage you from doing the best you can for your parents and sibling(s). You might wonder if all of this is worth it. But I can promise you it is. Your sibling(s) will look up to you and your parents will depend on you. One day, you will notice one your siblings behaving the same way you do, whether good or bad and it will make you stop and think. You have a lot of power over how things go in your household. And if I may quote Uncle Ben, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” So go out and continue clearing those paths! That’s our responsibility. 🙂

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