Life lessons from the lowest rung on the ladder
I recently found out that one of my oldest friends is pregnant with her third child and it’s a girl… just like her first two children. She announced it on Facebook in the form of a reveal cake, and I commented on the photo:
“Oh my word! Yay [family name]! I thought for sure it was a boy. Although, I must say, being the youngest of three girls myself, this new baby will have it all .“
But then I got to thinking about how being the youngest of three girls shaped me and what I learned about it as an adult. Some lessons were easily tagged back to my birth order, some less obviously so.
So, for anyone embarking on a life as the parents of 3 girls, here are some lessons I learned and my take on it, in no particular order:
- Pick a really great name for me. By this point, you’ve already used up your number one and number two top girl names. Don’t just give me my older sister’s backup name.
- I may not be a natural born leader, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give me opportunities to lead. My sisters always called the shots and I was never far behind, but learning how to lead is a very valuable trait.
- Being alone and entertaining myself may not come naturally to me so give me opportunities to figure it out. See also #10.
- Although it may be the third time you’ve done something (potty train, first day of school, first communion), don’t forget it’s still my first.
- Just because my sisters are doing it (and you’re totally over what I’m currently doing) doesn’t mean I am ready. Easy example: daycare. I went to pre-school as a 3 year old and graduated high school as a 17 (and 5 month) year old. It was easy to hurry me along. Hence, the corollary to Number 5:
- I’m probably going to be ready earlier than my sisters were. You can’t escape the influence that older sisters have.
- I’m going to want to tag along with my big sisters at pretty much every turn, even when they don’t want me to. It’s going to cause some annoyances. It’s ok.
- I’ll probably tell my sisters before I tell you when I get my period. They’ll probably teach me how to put makeup on and shave my legs too. It’s ok, Mom. No offense.
- The dynamics of 3 women will always leave someone out. There will be tears, there will be slammed doors and whomever is besties this week may be frenemies next week. It will all even itself out in the end.
- I never have to plan anything for myself so give me opportunities to learn how to. I learned this the hard way in my 20’s when I realized that in order to have friends, I needed to make plans to see them. That didn’t come naturally to me. Why would it when I already had built-in friends since the day I was born?
- You’ve already figured a lot out but don’t forget that I need to discover it myself. Even though sister 1 was trial and error and sister 2 was improving upon that, and now life is mayhem with three children, it’s still all brand new to me.
- Give me opportunities to show I am my own person and not just "so and so’s" little sister (which includes getting my own clothes, books and toys). I don’t begrudge hand-me-down’s, especially if they were super cool, just make sure I have some stuff that feels like mine.
- I have the supreme benefit of learning from my sisters’ mistakes but don’t forget I need to make my own as well. I avoided a lot of heartache (and police intervention) because I was able to see how some of my sisters’ decisions resulted in really crappy consequences. So I didn’t make those same mistakes, I made my own.
- It’s going to be hard on me when everyone goes off to college and I’m the only one left behind. Youngest girls are used to having their sisters around and being an “only child” doesn’t come naturally to us. Expect a lot of tears and lonely nights.
- I may always be your baby but if anything, I want to be like the big kids, not the baby. Especially if the third daughter is the youngest of the neighborhood or of the cousins, the last thing she want to feel like is the baby of the group.
- But, no but really, I will always be your baby.