Dear Oldest Child,
I am so sorry that you were essentially a science project to us when we were first-time parents. We have heard you over the years saying how you wished you had an older sibling. We understand that you wanted someone else to experience things first, to offer advice and to say to you, "What the hell is wrong with our parents?"
Well, as we are now looking at colleges, finishing up those 18 years of poking, prodding and play dates, it occurs to me that throughout our years together you have allowed all of us moms a hands-on educational experience like no other. The mistakes we made along the way have allowed us to 'tweak' our parenting skills to perfection for your younger, luckier siblings.
It is an unfortunate happenstance for you that you must be the 'first' but I, on behalf of mothers everywhere, thank you for the teaching and hope I haven't messed you up too bad. If so, please send me the shrink bil.
I thought it might help soften the blow, dear oldest, if I shared with you some of lessons you have taught me. I have been listening and changing my ways. Promise!
Lessons Learned From The Oldest, Thus Far:
I learned that five-minute warnings often ensure a neater transition, without meltdown.
I learned that it's okay to allow a little bad television while I accomplish tasks now and then. Your eyes won't bug out of your head and truly, it will not melt your brain like the doctors warned me.
I learned that allowing you to have Pokemon and YuGiOh cards will not turn you into a violent, street gang member.
I learned that if you see a couple kissing in a movie or on the street that knee-jerk reaction to go "Ooooh" will just embarrass you.
I learned that when you're in junior high and your friends are over, calling you "sweetie" or dropping "Mom Notes" in your lunch is just downright inappropriate.
I learned that if I don't email you that assignment you left at home you will eventually remember to bring it in yourself next time.
I learned that privacy means I don't have to know every last thing going on in your life and that's often a good thing for both of us.
I learned that allowing my baby to drive a car will not give me an actual heart attack, but it will tug at my blood pressure slightly. Okay, more than slightly.
I am still learning that college is your process (not mine) and I am just the "coach" reminding you to get things in on time. It's so darn hard not to get to go there with you though, that one I'll admit to not having learned yet!
We moms are truly sorry that we had to 'try things out' on you, poor #1. But, as I watch you grow and mature, I am guessing I didn't mess up too bad - you're turning out pretty spectacular despite, or perhaps because of, my mistakes.
Moms anywhere, everywhere & yours
Sara Kutliroff is a freelance writer and blogger trying not to forget the "me” in mommy.
See more of Sara's stories here.