Friday, July 08, 2005

Birth Order

I've been thinking a lot lately about family dynamics, specifically birth order. I'm the youngest in my family of six kids by six years, so in some ways I was a bit like an only child, and I definitely didn't have the experience of having younger brothers or sister. I did become an aunt when I was 9, but in a lot of ways that is like being a grandparent -- you only see the kids for brief stints and you can give them back. I was always really good with kids, and I was a great babysitter, probably because I had a comparatively extended childhood and I love to play. So, with all of this "experience," I looked forward to becoming a mother. And WOW was I in for an awakening. I won't say a rude awakening, because overall motherhood has been a wonderful experience, and I think I'm a pretty great mom on the whole. But having never observed someone raising kids long term (except for my parents raising myself, which of course couldn't be viewed objectively), I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I can't help but think that everyone else in my family had a much more informed portrait of parenthood in their heads before they became parents. My oldest sister (mother of 8 living children) is 16 years older than me, so I'm sure she remembers when mom was pregnant with me and some of the other kids. She saw the thousands of diaper changes, and probably did a lot of them, and noticed how the family dynamics changed with the addition of another child. I don't doubt that becoming a mother is life-changing for every woman, but wonder if it is less dramatic for children higher up in the birth order. And I wonder if oldest children generally have more kids than youngests.

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