Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Giving Guinea Pig

Being the oldest has it's perks.
Being the oldest cousin has it's perks as well.

But not when it comes to getting older.
This is nothing to do with an age/wrinkle thing.
Stretch mark, hip width, or 11 wrinkles.

This has to do with a lack of published information on the etiquette of growth, gifts, giving, and family.
Good news, you are the guinea pigs!

If you're reading this, from a stumble around the Internet, you're probably the oldest of the family, or large extended family. You're more then likely the first to get married, the first to have kids, the first the first the first...

Which is great when it's a "torch" thing. All those little ones underneath you think that it's the coolest thing that their "big sister is getting married."
Or, their "older cousin on their Mom's side, is having a baby." Even though they don't understand why you won't "tell anyone the names that you've picked out for the little one in womb. (Another topic another time.)

You're the one that was lucky to have your Mom throw you your bridal shower, although it was your younger sisters on the invite list-but because of age, we all know who funds those parties.

You're the one who's Aunts helped throw your baby shower-although it was your younger sisters on the invite list-but because of age, we all know who funds those parties.

You're the one that every cousin asked if they could "bring a date" to your reception. Because it just so happened to be around the same time as Prom, and they'd much rather attend a reception then prom-
although they were adorable to have their boyfriend sign the wedding card saying "thanks for letting him come to your wedding," alongside your Aunt and Uncle's best wishes message, and a check, signed by that same Aunt and Uncle because, we all know family members in HS or College, do not pay for weddings or showers. But they're graced with being given the rites to recognition.

Some cousins couldn't attend the showers, or the kids birthday parties, because they were busy preparing their lives of the future, away in college. But it was so nice of you Aunt and Uncles to include them in the festivities, on the greeting card saying "Happy 1st birthday Great Niece!"

This may seem very selfish. But it really isn't the purpose. Or someone that seems quite spoiled, but again, it isn't that way at all. It's just clearly a point that for those that are the oldest, you will never stop being the Guinea Pig.

You see, lets flash forward 5 years, okay?

You're a SAHM, four kids, one income. Your family lives in all different parts of the Midwest.

Then suddenly, all those cousins, and siblings, start growing up.
They start getting married.
Having babies.
birthday parties.

Which isn't a big deal, only for the small issue of  the pressure that is placed on your home, on you and your husband, the Giving Guinea Pigs. Because, it would be rude NOT to fly in for their wedding. It would be horrible NOT to give them a wedding check. It would be cruel not to send their child a happy first birthday gift-although it would mean so much to them, if you could find the time, because they are your brother and sister in law for that matter, to fly in and meet your new nephew that was born. Their first child.

Do you see where this is going?
All those little cousins and siblings that were included on the cards of congrats, that threw the showers, despite the funding coming elsewhere, are finally at that same point that you were, years ago. The difference, is it's almost "expected" of you to do the funding, and for them, naturally it's excused, because how can you expect a college kid to have that money. You can't expect a college kid to just be able to come home for a first birthday party. You can't ask your sibling to take off a day of work, so they could attend their nephew's first party, because that sibling "has a very important retail job that requires no time off." But when they get married, it's a completely different expectation.

You're expected to fund, to be present and to be very involved.
Or expect a big selfish family problem if you don't.

Only, you're a family of one income.
Or, you just can't keep flying to one state or another to attend their weddings. Even though they may have come to yours, aka "their prom." It seems selfish, but when is the line drawn?

A first born is the guinea pig-for most-
I just never thought "giving" would also be a "guinea pig" thing, either.

How do you put an end to all that money, without being disrespectful. After all, it's not their fault the way the roll call was. But the expectation, even if you're the most generous and wealthiest of people, seems sort of jaded. Or, at least for some. Because, now that they have kids, or are married, you're expected to be part of it all. But they, the younger siblings or family members were never given that same amount of pressure, because of where they were at in their life.

This topic isn't over....but I need to look up flights, as a family member just called to ask if we've booked our flights yet.
(To come be part of our niece's first birthday)

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