You are the first child of your parents. My daughter, Delaney, was my first child (and her father's too). As I watch you in this world and Delaney, My Mom (yea, you too Mom), my older brother, and many other first-born children, I am flooded with the so many emotions. Love, hope, fear and wonder. This is a love letter to all of the first born children in the world.
You are born as a pure wonder, everything you do is a first for at least you, but often for your parents, sometimes grandparents and aunts, uncles, and family friends. This gives you the courage throughout your life to keep moving forward into firsts. You are not afraid to keep trying and going. You never stop moving forward (but if you have to, it is for a VERY good or uncontrollable reason). Being first gives you great courage. Remember how courageous you truly are, even if no one else sees it. You knew when you were terrified and did it anyway. It may not seem to be courage to anyone else, but you know that bravery is being afraid and doing it anyway. You are brave. Your courage, even when unseen, helps us all keep moving forward.
Being the oldest of your parents' children, you have to break in all of the rules. But, you don't push them too much. Because they were all focused on you at first and you wanted them to focus on the good stuff, so you were so good. Maybe too good. Maybe being that good forced you to repress your own feelings too often. You prefer to do what will make others happy or you are helpful, instead of what you needed or wanted to do. You hide your feelings because you would rather everyone focus on feeling good. You try to protect your parents and siblings from sadness or things you believe may hurt them. But then those things hurt you. You don't have to hide your feelings. Your parents and siblings are okay, you don't need to protect them anymore. I know, there are some who would say you hide nothing, but I know you hide the very tender areas that your family and friends step on. You don't wince or cry because you were taught not to make a fuss. Make a fuss. We need your courage and courage grows when you can express those deepest, tenderest secrets that you carry in your heart. Let them be free to fly away. Make a fuss. Make a big, loud, obnoxious fuss and make sure you scream all of those things you have not screamed since the day you were born. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be listened to.
You often feel weighed down by the weight of your family. Sometimes it shows up as extra weight, sometimes illness, sometimes depression. You can't fix your parents. If your parents are no longer together, it is not your fault. If they are miserably married, it is not your fault. If your siblings are a wreck or in bad marriages, or just emotional basket cases, it is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. No matter what you heard or think you heard, or saw or felt, the lives of your family are not your responsibility and it is not your fault if they are unhappy.
That dream you carry around in your heart, clutching it like it might fly away if you loosen your grip...the one of happiness oozing out of every person in your family? It is a nice dream, something to strive for, but please don't make it your life's work. If you remember a time when this was the case, do not try to recreate it. There were miserable people there, you just didn't know it. You were lost in your own happy land. Just know that you can try to create great memories, but don't take it on yourself as a failure if it ends up being difficult. You can't control how anyone else feels. You can't even control how you feel, even thought you have been trying to for a long time. Just let go of needing your family to be happy. You deserve to be happy, but worrying about everyone else is the longest, most difficult path to take to get to your own happiness. It actually doesn't get you there at all. Teach your family how to be happy, by making yourself happy. Yes, you can. Make you happy. It is just like teaching kindness. Telling someone to be kind or saying you are kind does not do anything. Being kind is the way to teach others how to be kind. Being happy works exactly the same. You can even leave me behind so you can show me how, if you need to. I will still love you deeply.
You will not mean any less to anyone else if you worry about yourself for a while. And maybe ask for help if you need it. Didn't you just tell me today, Katrina, that I needed to get over myself and accept help from others? You did. You wise old soul.
To all eldest children:
You are so courageous and brave. Thank you.
You are very protective. Thank you. Please stop now. You have gone above and beyond a duty that was never actually yours to begin with. Just love them and hold their hands. Don't try to hide the pain from them, because then it becomes yours and they don;t learn what they need to learn. They don't want you to carry it for them.
You deserve to be heard. Please let it all out. We love you and we are listening. You were never meant to hold it all in.
It is not your fault or responsibility. You do not need to fix anyone close to you. You did not cause anything that has hurt your family to happen. Stop blaming yourself and start talking about it out loud. No one knows that you think it is your fault or responsibility, unless they have really been watching, but most of us are too busy to see things like that. When you come clean about feeling like they all wait for you to do everything, or take care of everything, or you blame yourself for everything that goes wrong, they will be quite surprised. Turns out you made that happen all by yourself at times. That is okay. But let's change that today.
Make you happy. Please. Please. Please. This is absolutely a first-born job. Break those invisible barriers and teach us all how to be happy by making yourself happy. Some of use don't even know there are barriers to be broken because we have never even come close to breaking any. We don't even know we are unhappy.
First born heroes, thank you for everything that you silently take on and shoulder, for your Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters. But please, stop picking up everyone else's junk. We love you, you don't have to hold our crap to get that love, it is already there. You don't have to earn your keep, or make anything good for anyone else. Just be with us. And let yourself put down the weight of the family. Be free of shutting down your feelings. Open your mouth and tell us if we upset you. We may have to walk away for a minute, but we will always come back.
You are loved for all of the wonder you share with the world when you learn something new and give to everyone around you.
I love you, Kat, my first-born friend. And Chris - I dedicate this one to you too, even though you were not officially a first born, you carried the first born energy for your family, along with all of their heavy luggage. Delaney - you shut up far too much information about your own feelings, Bug. I love you, you can tell me any and everything and if you want no one else to know, they will not. Mom - you d more than required. Know that and allow it to be true. You deserve happiness, even when I am acting like a snotty 12 year old (so sorry Mom).
Time to rest eldest loves. Love you guys!