“Who’s That?”

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Unless you are the first born child in your family, you may not understand the first jolt of a new reality that hit me just two weeks after my third birthday. In the photo above you can see that I am less than pleased with the development currently slumped on my lap. Yes, my mother had brought home a baby after being gone for a week. Apparently after inspecting him briefly, I asked when she could take him back.

These days there are countless books about welcoming a baby brother, t-shirts that brag “I’m the big sister,” and long discussions in parenting classes about “demoting” the only child to being one of two.(They don’t call it demoting. That is because they didn’t ask me for a title for the class!) No in the “good old days,” mothers went away for a week, returned with a baby and that was that.

It’s just as well. All the t-shirts, books and talks could never really have prepared me for the shock of ceasing to be the center of attention for two adults. But it happened. Fortunately for me, we moved into a new house shortly thereafter, and became neighbors to a childless couple. After standing on our lot line, hands on hips and declaring to Grace and Don that “this is my properly!” we became very close.

When, three years later, my mother brought another baby home from the hospital I was ready. Being center stage was a fleeting experience, not to be repeated. But I made sure not to marry an oldest son. Who knew if he still hoped to be number one!

55 thoughts on ““Who’s That?”

  1. It must be strange indeed. I was the ‘only born’, so never had to face being second best, at least as far as my Mum was concerned. I get a similar feeling when someone who owns an old dog gets a puppy. The faithful hound must be greatly upset by that, I reckon.
    I would never do that to Ollie. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. Pete – my mot recent dogs were aquired because Pickle missed the old one so much when he died. He never did much but sleep – he was blind by then – so I was surprised how depressed she became without him. But then, Pickle’s days as an only dog were not happy ones and she’d always been one of a crowd since she came to us.

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    1. How many sisters? I remember a neighbor flying a banner after five girls that read “If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try, try, try, try again.” I guess that would be seen as mean today, but we all laughed because we knew they wanted a boy too.

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        1. Still born children are such a loss for the whole family. They are still hard to understand even with all our modern technology. My daughter’s work friend delivered a girl full term but not breathing.

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  2. I was only 14 months old when my first brother was born, so I don’t remember that. But I was three when my youngest brother arrived. After having been shipped to my aunt’s for a week while my mother was in the hospital, I was less than impressed on my return with the new addition. Luckily, these things all work out in the end!

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  3. I’m convinced that whatever sequenced child one is has its perks and disadvantages. As the youngest of four boys, my mom loved to tell me that she heard that the youngest children were often the most spoiled. I think my parents overcompensated to make sure that never happened. 😎

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    1. Ha! My first marriage was to the youngest son and his parents had not overcompensated. Fortunately in round two I married a middle son. Very agreeable as the one in the middle had to be.

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  4. this is such a shared experience among so may people………I don’t remember my sister coming home but I sure remember my son meeting his sister for the first time……… 🙂 thanks for bringing back memories! 🙂

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  5. I was not the oldest, but my big sister could have written your script. Plus, she added how we had it so much easier than she did – meaning we we were allowed to do things much earlier than she was. I think that’s a justified sore spot for the oldest in the family. Not marrying an oldest in his family was probably a wise decision.

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  6. Strange as it seems, I have no recollection of my baby brother being introduced into the family. We are three years apart, but I can’t remember it.

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  7. Haha, Elizabeth, this really made me laugh. I am the oldest of four girls. I had three slaves for years. They all knew there place in the family social order. Actually, they still do. I am very bossy. Greg lay on the bed shouting “what about me?” when I brought Michael home. Only two days for me and I had a Cesarean section because my uterus was so thin, you could see the baby through it.

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  8. I’m the oldest marrying another oldest one – it’s worked so far! A ‘few’ disputes along the way………60 yrs next April so it wasn’t/hasn’t been a bad match after all😊

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  9. My two eldest came together to approach me after my youngest daughter was born. “We think that four children is too many.”
    I asked them which one they thought we ought to send back. They looked at each other and went off to think about it. I never got an answer.
    I was lucky with my eldest. He was fascinated by my eldest daughter when she arrived, but the gap was small – barely two years. betwweneacy – less for the youngest as she was two months early.

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    1. I suspect two years is easier than three. My grandkids seemed fine with the two year spacing. I think by three I was totally full of myself.(Of course that hasn’t really changed!)

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  10. I was the oldest of five by the time I was six, so I have no memory of being an only child. But my very smart mother let me be “Mom’s indispensable helper,” which made me feel like I had a central role rather than feeling upstaged.

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  11. I was 6 when my brother arrived so it wasn’t too bad. I’ve heard it said before that marriages can be more difficult between partners of the same birth order.

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  12. Thank you for this post: the laughs, the nuances, and memories. I know someone who was an only child for 11 years and when her brother showed up she was not happy! I think about my mother who was an only child for more than 7 years and then had to quickly grow up to become the oldest and most responsible child. I was an only child for a little less than 3 years but the story goes that once I realized that visitors to our home were no longer interested in me but in seeing my baby sister, I took charge by taking them to see her. I’ve been told that after a few minutes, I would say “that’s enough,” before attempting to draw their attention back to me where I thought it belonged!😂😂

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  13. I am the second born. Initially my brother was mean but since my father was transferred often, we were each other’s only constant friends. Later, when I became his biggest fan and cheerleader, it finally worked out.

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  14. I’m the baby in the family. According to my mom, as soon as she brought me home, my brother (less than two years difference) proclaimed me “his” baby and he took it very seriously for a very long time. But I think there wasn’t much preparation either, other than my dad telling him they had brought home a little sister “for him”.

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