Is it true that the oldest sibling has it the hardest? Just ask my oldest sister, Mona.
Mona is a self-admitted, textbook firstborn. She’s organized, responsible, and goal-oriented. Her house is always clean, she’s rarely late, and at work she’s always asked to take on more responsibility – even though she insists she doesn’t want to be in charge. Like it or not, firstborns are born leaders.
Looking back, we all admit that Mona probably had it the hardest growing up. Try being the oldest of five daughters with a strict, old-fashioned father. You’re going to grow up fast. You’re going to make waves. You’re going to pave the way (and extend the curfew) for younger siblings who will thank you for years to come.
Mona is also quite a catch, so she had lots of boyfriends in her youth. And back in the early 70’s drive-in movies were the rage. Did my parents allow her dates to take her to the drive in? Yes, but only under one condition. She had to take all four of her younger sisters with her! Thanks to Mona and her boyfriends, I went on more dates before age five than most girls will before they graduate from high school.
Was Mona allowed to stay out late? Not exactly. When she was a senior in high school, her curfew was extended to 10:30 p.m. Given that her boyfriend didn’t have a car (and Friday night football games are known to last past 10:00 p.m.), she often had to leave the game early and run several miles home (literally on foot) to greet my father, who would be standing at the door watching the clock.
When, at age 19, Mona married Dave, we were all a little worried. I can still remember my outspoken Grandmother proclaiming, Why didn’t they at least graduate from college first? They had no money and no education – just two young kids in love, looking for some independence. (We all knew Dave was the one when he agreed multiple times to take us all to the drive-in – even Grandma liked him.)
The good news? Mona gracefully paved the way for the rest of us. The first to break my father into boyfriends. The first to get married. The first to graduate from college. The first to have kids. The first to have grandchildren. And now, the first to retire. (Mona, I know you’re going to hit the ground running with a second career, but please do the rest of us a favor and take some time off! You don’t have to go first anymore.)
Any firstborns out there? Yes, us younger siblings don’t always understand what you’ve endured, but we can’t imagine life without you. Thanks for going first!