Sunday, January 3, 2010
When I was pregnant with Tiny Baby, I spent some of my weeks of bed rest reading uniquely unhelpful books about birth order, gender, and age spacing between kids. These books spouted several different scary theories about how having children too close together (oops!) can irreparably harm the older one and about how having two children of the same gender in succession (again, oops!) can destine the younger one to feelings of inadequacy.
Family members also shared with us their concerns about birth order and the role it played in their lives. Both my father-in-law and my dad were raised in families with several boys close in age. Each felt negatively affected by the challenges of competing with his brothers and cautioned us of the potential hazards of having a younger son following so closely in the Stride Rite footsteps of an older brother.
Despite these warnings, neither Husband nor I worried too much about birth order. And that's probably because neither of us felt like it played much of a role in our own lives. Husband is an Oldest; I am a Middle. Both of us got plenty of attention, plenty of affection, and plenty of encouragement. Neither of us felt like we were set in competition against our siblings. And, of course, we knew we would never become those parents, the ones who neglect one child and heap praise on the other.
But then we both come from families with three children and in which he is the only boy and I am the only girl. And I wonder whether the uniqueness of our genders mattered more than the number or order of kids.
And I wonder about Tiny Baby and how being the younger brother of Big Boy - the beloved first grandchild on both sides of the family - will shape his experience.
And I wonder whether love and time and patience are all any child needs to forge his own path and chart his own course in the world.
And I wonder if I give enough of any of these things to either of my kids.
Are you an Oldest, a Middle, a Youngest, or an Only? How has your birth order affected you?
Image: "The Three Brothers" courtesy of Just B Cuz via Flickr.