The down side to coming last.

Picture source Getty Images

The great motivator to having a baby first as a next generation family member, friend or rival, is that you get first dibs on everything. From the grandparents enthusiastically helping out with the babysitting, to the excitement of your friends: ‘OMG you’re having a babaaaayyyyy’. You also get to be the first one to use it as a valid excuse for turning up late or not at all to any social gathering. ‘Sorry we couldn’t make it, our babysitter cancelled last minute’. ‘Sorry we’re half an hour late to lunch, it took ages to get the baby in the car’. ‘Sorry for being an arsehole, the baby kept us awake all night’ etc etc.

But if you’re the childless friend or family member, God forbid you turn up late or not all to the baby shower. ‘It’s no surprise he’s not a parent, he’s always been selfish’. ‘How could he not be here to celebrate what is one of our happiest days, I bet he’d expect us to be at his baby shower’! The other advantage to being the first to procreate in your circle, is that you get the best baby shower presents and the same also applies to being the first to get married. It’s exciting to attend the debut wedding or baby shower and the adrenaline rush is accompanied by a trigger finger impulse to spend big. It’s the first time, there’s no comparisons and nobody wants to be the cheap friend. ‘Did you hear, Steve got them a used nappy for the baby shower present. He even had the audacity to use the excuse that he was being environmentally friendly!’

The problem with putting off giving birth or getting married is that if you’re late to the party all the sustenance has gone. And with that comes depleted energy and enthusiasm. Basically it’s a no fucks given situation. The friends or siblings whose children you babysat when you were young, free and single, are now weathered parents dealing with 3–6 year olds. ‘We’d love to babysit but we’ve already got our hands full with these urchins’-(said with faux annoyance and an underlying sense of smug pride).

An RSVP from a couple whose wedding you attended three years ago in Rhodes: ‘We’re so sorry we can’t be there to celebrate with you both, we’ve just got our hands full with the little one’s. And also we never quite got over the used nappy Steve gave as a baby shower present. I mean if it was an open pack that would be one thing, but one sole used nappy, what kind of animal does that?! Anyway, hope you have an amazing day. Love and kisses, the Fishers xx’. And this, my friends, is the main reason why people have kids in the first place, to get them out of tedious social commitments. Ironically the subsequent pressure of raising kids is the main reason why people get out of or leave relationships.

But the advantages to giving birth far outweigh the anxieties of the unknown. Having reached the finishing line first (I am yet to arrive at that destination or even attempt to), my younger sibling accrues all the aforementioned benefits. ‘Fancy babysitting tonight’? ‘Sure, anything to see those angels!’ ‘Christmas at ours in Lewes (Rodmell actually) this year’? ‘Of course, it would be silly for all of you to drive to London for the day’! The other phenomenon that happens when a new baby is introduced, is that any former source of cuteness such as pets are suddenly cast aside. ‘Larry, baby JoJo is crawling, out the way…stupid dog’! Even your cousin’s baby that was once adored has now lost its sheen. ‘Have you noticed how Tyler is rough with JoJo? He really needs to grow up, he’s not a baby anymore. When I was two I was volunteering at my local homeless shelter!’

Once I (we) decide to finally participate in the race and cross the finishing line, resulting in a shiny new gold medal AKA a baby (I appreciate that this metaphor isn’t the strongest but let’s…run with it); my fear is that the same level of enthusiasm, energy and commitment will not be reciprocated from those whose offsprings benefited so greatly from my vigour. Instead my sibling will look on and notice how my attention has turned from my niece to my very own medal, I mean baby. Resulting in reminding her of how she once treated the now deceased Larry in his later years, coldly substituting his furry ways for chubby cheeks and thighs. He wasn’t left homeless by the way, instead my parents came to the rescue and adopted him. And Larry became the son they never had (he was far more affectionate, loyal and obedient than I am capable of).

In this moment my Sister will recognize that in my eyes, her child is now the equivalent of Larry and all the love and devotion I showed towards baby JoJo will now be directed to my own flesh and blood (but like actual, not once removed). Ok so maybe I’m being a big baby and am projecting. I’m sure she’ll be a loving Aunt. But what about my parents? Having patiently waited for me to provide them with a Grandchild, they will now be too old and decrepit to give a shit. Consequently they’ll take a laissez-faire attitude to proceedings. ‘Darling we would babysit, it’s just that we’ve got bridge with the Greens at 7pm. We could do it over Facetime though’?

Baby showers will be weakly attended, congratulations cards will be few and far between, (especially now that people are more conscious of their harmful effects on the environment) and family Whatsapp group replies to pictures of the ‘little angel’ will be suspiciously low. Oh and the wedding party, what party? Due to the climate crises (and also partly to take a superior moral stance to your friends who had theirs in Rhodes), you decide to forgo it and instead ask loved ones to donate to your favourite environmental charity.

But regardless, these donations amount to peanuts in comparison to the money spent on friends and families weddings and babies. And ultimately you are left brewing over your expensive procrastination on whether to enter the race and attempt to cross the finishing line. But that’s FINE, because you’ve decided to fight the good fight by only having one child, which saves an average of 58.6 tonnes of C02 equivalent per year. And much rather that than carry the weight of guilt that comes with selfishly destroying the planet one excess baby at a time.

We may not even have a baby shower and if we do we’ll be sure to donate any toys to dogs in need, who have been ruthlessly abandoned by owners, distracted by their shiny new babies. And what about our baby? Well it will be dressed in recyclable materials only, eat a strict vegan diet and be home schooled to cut down on pollution and make up for all the money wasted on selfish friends, family members weddings, baby showers and babies.

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Steve Whiteley

Welcome to my mind, it’s a bumpy ride. Writes about general petty behaviour (mostly my own). IG @offkeysteve Website: https://www.stevewhiteley.co