I was born first–need I say more? Obsessive, compulsive, perfectionist who likes to have her way…yep, that’s me. I’ve tried explaining to my husband why I am the way that I am, but he doesn’t get it. After all, he was a “lastborn”; we’re practically a different race.
At three weeks old, Mom had cabin fever and couldn’t wait to take me out in the stroller for the first time. But Dad read some advice in some book by some author, maybe Dr. Spock, recommending the first baby outing be only twenty minutes. Dad fixed his blue eyes on his wristwatch. Mom strapped my seatbelt, adjusted my infant cap, tucked a ducky quilt around me like a sausage, never mind it was July, added a bottle to the diaper bag, and strolled down the driveway to enjoy some sun. And…you guessed it…Dad called, “Times up! I’m sorry, hon, but we have to bring her back inside.” Mom cried and sauntered back to her “cabin”.
So explains why I stay up hours past midnight. Since three weeks old, I’ve been trying to get the most out of my time. Bedtime means “time’s up” on my day.
My wonderful mom measured bottles and dispersed them like clockwork. Mom cradled me and fed me without another child vying for attention. Diapers were changed on the hour; no such thing as diaper rash for the firstborn. Yes, routine was the good life.
In my teen years, I measured my food to make sure I was eating the actual serving size suggested. I counted calories and ate one cup of light vanilla ice cream every day for calcium. Hmmm…was I still craving that bottled milk subconsciously? Okay, I did grow up and out of that compulsion, but I still have to have three bowls of cereal a day…with milk. Any connection?
As a firstborn, I was the star, worthy of thousands of photos. Perfect outfit, perfect hairstyle, perfect smile, even if I only had four teeth and one lock of hair to tie a ribbon. Every wall was adorned with my face.
I strive for perfection. Always have. It’s made me determined, goal oriented, someone who won’t quit. What can be an asset to succeeding at tasks can also be a curse. My mirror on the wall never says, “You’re perfect.” It wipes Windex in my face and declares: “Bad hair day; you have dark circles, raccoon eyes; are you gaining weight? You’re a loser.” Why do I look? Perfectionists, like me, have a hard time feeling content. If I looked into God’s mirror, I’d see the reflection He sees…finally perfect in His image.
When my sister arrived, a five pound preemie, I had to learn to share Mom and Dad. The days of having my way were over. They had to divide their attention. What three year-old wants to hear “Not now, I’m busy with your sister”? Mom would coo at her adorable tiny baby as she washed her in the sink like an imported teacup. I talked to my dolls…alone. My nose couldn’t have been more out of joint than if it packed up its freckles and walked off my face.
I’m a grownup…so of course I share. Just don’t go on my computer. And I guess I could take the chocolate brownie cookies down from the top shelf of my closet once in a while and offer them…Na! They’d be gone in a wink.
As I said before, I married a lastborn–born into survival mode with two older brothers. If he dug up one piece of white meat from the Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, he was happy. My daughter learned a phrase: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” That’s him. He slows me down before I catapult myself into insanity.
Can I blame my personality on being born into this privileged position? Is it just a coincidence that I share these traits with my fellow firstborns? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a…some questions don’t have answers. But claiming firstborn is a good excuse as any when my husband asks, “Why?”
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