Friday, July 18, 2008

From one oldest to another

My Alena Grace:

There are benefits of being the oldest, the first born. No hand-me-downs, everything you get is new. You're always the first to do something new or reach a milestone ... first to walk, first to have a first birthday, first to start preschool. By default, a bigger deal is made of all your "firsts."

You were the first baby I'd ever held that was my own. The first baby to be brought into our home to stay. The first to teach me a mother's love. The first. It has its privileges.

It also has its disadvantages. Also by default, I expect more from you. You should know better than to jump on the couch. You should know better than to hit. You should know to share. You are the oldest, after all.

By this birthright, right or wrong, you are responsible beyond your years. Greater expectations and discipline are sought from you. You become the target of my frustration, brokenness and exhaustion when you have no ability to understand any of the three. And for all of it I'm sorry.

I see in you the worry-wort, hot-head and caretaker that I believe are genetically yours. Passed down from myself, your grandmother and your great-grandmother. All first born, by the way. I sometimes see these traits in you, and wish I could somehow undo them all. I also wonder how much I've taught you, versus how much you were destined to acquire despite my example.

Chances are you will always expect more from yourself than others do. Chances are you will worry constantly, and when there's nothing left to fret about, worry about that too. Chances are you will feel responsible for things you have no control over or ability to change. Chances are ...

In life, though, you take the good with the bad. What you get in high expectations, you don't get in hand-me-downs. You'll have to accept my desire to instill discipline in you, in exchange for a part of me only you will ever get to hold.

However, despite the unfairness, our conflicts because we both know best and all the other "bad," I promise you unconditional love you'll never know from another and the promise you'll begin to understand it all when you hold that very first baby of your own.

Until then, please try to understand I only want the very best for you, even if it brings out my worst.

Love, Mom

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