Fall From Grace

There’s a phenomenon I’ve observed in first-borns like myself, people who gain siblings around the age of 1 or 2 or 3.*

We experience a fall from grace.

For a time, we are at the center of the universe, as evidenced by the fact that our parents’ lives revolve around us. They delight in taking care of us. The are always looking for novel ways to make us smile and giggle. We get 100% of the peekaboos, the lullabies, the goofiness, the spotlight. We experience undivided attention.

And then, it divides. We gain a sibling and lose the limelight.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the back seat of our Dodge as Dad pulled into the hospital entrance to pick up my mom, who had been gone a few days after getting quite fat. Dad was giddy to bring her home again, along with something called a “baby sister.” Now, Mom swears this didn’t happen, but in my memory she was wheeled to the car with a pink bundle — pink because IT WAS WRAPPED IN MY PINK BLANKIE!

Mom says of course she didn’t use my blankie to bring my sister home in; Sheri had received her own blankie. No matter. In my mind, I was already sharing with this alien. First my blankie, then my room, and in the blink of an eye I was no longer the center of the universe. I was now forever to share the mom and dad who had theretofore been mine-all-mine. My universe was permanently rent.

A few years later, Sheri and I ceased being enough for Mom and Dad, and Tami came along, further dividing my world. But by then I had the cognitive skills to also see the addition of the situation. As you know, my sisters are among my greatest treasures.

* After age 3 or so, children are able to deal with the feelings of the fall from grace more rationally, using their advancing cognitive skills (as my husband did when his younger sister came into the picture when he was 5). But prior to that, it’s a sheer emotional experience, sans reasoning. You just know that you’ve always been 100% and suddenly, you sense you’re only half that.

~~~~~

Periodically I’m adding to my Off the Beaten Path playlist made just for you, reminiscent of the days when you’d painstakingly record songs from the radio onto a cassette for an important person in your life.

The way you are in mine.

Last month we were in the 1960s with the Mamas & the Papas and a little cover ditty from moi. This time I share with you a song from the 1970s, Andrew Gold’s Lonely Boy, that acknowledges one young man’s fall from grace.

What do you think of this Fall from Grace theory?

Lori's mix tape playlistAnd just for good measure, I’m adding in another song that my dad used to listen to in the 1970s. Loudly. The chords are simple and the lyrics are rudimentary, and Beautiful Sunday works because it reminds me of a simple, carefree, happy day growing up, hanging out with my parents and sisters.

Stay tuned for more off-the-beaten-path music. I’ll be periodically adding to this mix tape, made especially for you, and the playlist will gradually grow.

Image courtesy of coward_lion / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

23 thoughts on “Fall From Grace”

  1. GREAT post! My brother came home when I was just 22 months old. And, while I don’t remember his homecoming, this post spoke volumes to me!

    Blessing to you and your sisters!

  2. As the youngest of 4, I have no thoughts on this issue.

    If you wanted to ask about how the youngest is always dismissed, just for being younger, I could help you out! :)

  3. Love it! I remember my second brother coming home when I was five. I asked if they could take him back. Thankfully, my parents didn’t give him MY BLANKIE but still. All the neighbors temporarily forgot how adorable I was.

  4. I was the youngest and only girl, so I didn’t experience this like my brothers did, though they were older at the time (4 and 5.5). but I see it in our oldest, who was just 2-1/4yo when her little sister was born, and had to deal with the added needs of a preemie and her mama recovering from major surgery. I think she is still processing her experience in different ways.

  5. though it’s not so much a fall from grace, I think, as a hey-kid-step-aside-from-the-limelight-now-you-have-to-share-EVERYTHING sort of thing.

  6. My oldest daughter by eight years will be in total agreement with your words. I am sure Tracy will remind me that she wasn’t thrilled about not having us all to herself anymore. We have a picture of Tracy holding her new baby sister, in the hospital, but not quite sure about what all the fuss is about :). Great post :)!

  7. Nodding along with this one, Lori. I’m not only the oldest of three, but the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family. It didn’t take long to not only fall from grace, but then become the trailblazer for the family.

    What’s been interesting to observe is when this happens twice in a family. Either because there’s a large gap between children (there’s a 4 yr gap between my husband and his older sister, resulting in a weird break of him being the “oldest” for the second round) or through step-siblings being born. In affect, to watch someone who was once the youngest shift to an older child position after years in their previous role.

  8. Yes, it is sad, but true and a bit of a right of passage for oldest children. My son is experiencing it now. I am sure that of his brother joining our family he will recall a lot of crying (his and his brother) and a lot more playing by himself. It happened when my sister came home…I just remember the crying, hers, not mine.

  9. So, thanks a lot for scaring the bejesus out if me with your childhood anecdote. At barely 2, Baby X has NO idea what’s going to hit him in a few days. (If everything goes well that is). :)

  10. Oh yeah… and I think our oldest is making us pay for it now (besides some sleep issues he was pretty cool with it all when his brother was a tiny baby) by making me change his undies at least 4 times a day (while at preschool there are no accidents at all)…

  11. Ah, Lori, you bring back memories!! “Beautiful Sunday” was on a K-TEL Records compilation of hits that came out when I was about 11 or 12. They played it ENDLESSLY at the local skating rink. I can never hear a song from that album without instantly feeling cold air on my face as we skated round & round & round the rink, making up skating routines to the different songs. :)

  12. I was 5 when my brother arrived. Almost to the day. And true to your theory, I don’t remember a Fall from Grace. But I don’t remember being the only one, and doted on, either. So maybe that’s some comfort, and the Fall doesn’t last long?

  13. I remember the day my brother came home from the hospital and I’m sure a lot of people do. It was the day the Challenger exploded. I was 5 and a half and remember after coming home from school that I kept running back and forth to his crib. I was very excited to be his big brother. But then after he became the center of attention I turned to picking on him even though he looked up to me. We fought a lot as kids most of it instigated by me due to him being the baby and getting lots of attention.

  14. When I was younger (I know, dorky) I read “Growing up Firstborn.” Changed my life. I reread it when I got older and learned a few new things I had overlooked when I was 11.

    My brother is 2 years younger almost to the day. Everybody thought it was cute when I would play in his crib (crawling in there by myself) but couldn’t figure out why he would cry. Until one day they caught me hitting this helpless creature strapped to a carseat in the crib. He survived and he’s not 6’5″ with his own helpless creature to take care of.

  15. Yes. I get this. I’m the oldest of 5. I don’t think that any of the siblings that came after my greatness (hee hee) was any easier. But my parents did a good job at spreading the love.
    Great song choice.

  16. As an only child and mother of twins, I have no experience on either side with this. But fall from grace is exactly how my father describes the arrival of his first sister — and he was 7 at the time, which doesn’t fit with your 3-and-under theory. Even as a man in his 60s he still falls into the mindset of being thwarted: “The three of us were just fine without her.” It always seemed to me like it was much harder for him because he was so old when she was born, that it would have been easier if he’d been little.

    Now that I know about my grandmother’s infertility struggles, I can imagine my grandmother thinking the same thing, that he would have dealt with it better and they would have gotten along better if she could have had the next baby after a couple of years instead of 7.

    Though my dad is very close to his brother who is a full 10 years younger, so maybe he wouldn’t have gotten along with that sister no matter what the age difference would have been.

  17. I’m the youngest of three and I’m in the no thoughts on this issue category too. Except how come there’s only about six pictures of my whole entire childhood?! ;)

    This song is such a snapshot of a time period. It evokes such a mood and a feeling. Just full on 70s. There were so many songs like this that were so unique stylistically and lyrically that would never seen the light of day now, unfortunately. There was so much more room for experimentation and creativity back then. Album oriented Rock.

  18. I love this post. I gained a sister at 2.5 and it was not easy, I totally relate. Now my sister is my other half, however I still feel like she’s the favorite, oh well :-) The song you picked was sooo perfect! I love these posts, you are so gifted! Thanks for being a part of Twisted Mix Tape!

  19. the very idea of ‘childhood memories’ is so intriguing. The ‘images’ and other memories of not only a time so long ago, but a time when our view of the world was just forming and we were learning to be people…very cool.
    What I enjoy (in the way of childhood memories) is the size/distance distortion in those memories the hiding places being so very small now, the trip that was a journey then is just down the street.

  20. I motherflubbing love that song. Andrew Gold was a good songwriter. When he passed a couple of years ago, I talked about him on the medias that are social and people were shocked.

    I have a younger sister, 4 years so, and I identify with this song a lot. Good choice, Bra and vo

  21. Thanks for linking up with us! Great post to share and I’ll say it again, in case my comment above is lost – I can so clearly remember falling from grace. The neighbors were all excited about my baby brother. I wanted my mom to take him back.

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