You are the apple of your parents’ eyes. They love you unconditionally. They have tucked you in and kissed your boo-boos. They have ooh-ed and aah-ed at each one of your accomplishments. They love you more than they love anyone else.
Then one day you become a parent, and they are ecstatic for you. With happy tears in their eyes, they hold their grandchild in their arms like it’s a small piece of gold. Your heart widens like the sky at the sight of your aging parent holding your brand-spanking new spawn. You have given them a grandchild, the final check mark in your expected list of accomplishments, and nothing can diminish their love for you now. That is, until around day three of your child’s existence, when you realize that your three-odd decade of existence will forever play second fiddle to that of your spawn’s.
You are now a second-class citizen.
Your voting rights still apply, but those of your child supersede. You are still eligible for help and social support, but only after your child’s needs have been met.
If you and your child got into a car accident, your parent will punch the EMTs, use jaws of life to pull your baby out of the car, give them CPR, then make sure the car is OK before they check to see if you’re still attached to your limbs somewhere in the carnage.
Let’s face it, if you aren’t a complete disaster – or a middle child – you are use to being showered with your parent’s attention. Like when I call my mom and she says she’ll call me back because she’s busy with something, I legit get mad.
“What the hell else could you be doing? I am the F-ing centre of your universe!!”
But as soon as you give them the damn grandbaby, you will now constantly fight for their adoration. Yes, sibling rivalry with your spawn is totally a thing.
I am the first-born out of two. I was a goody-two-shoes kid who was good at school and as obedient and malleable as playdough. So I was naturally a good choice to be my parents’ golden child. On top of that, I am freaking adorable.
Funny enough, the above example of the car accident was once given by my brother in reference to my parents’ preferential treatment of me. After becoming a second-class citizen myself, I understood what he meant. I gave him a hug and cried on his shoulder because I had become a lowly peasant like him.
I once went to see my parents when my daughter was around a year old. I went to work for eight hours and then drove another five to get to their place. I parked on the driveway and left my daughter in the car so I could move the luggage in first. My dad opened the door and I beamed at him.
He looked at me deadpan and said, “Where’s Choti?” (the little one)
I stopped smiling soo fast.
Another time, I sent him a picture of the spawn and me. A few months later, he asked me to fix something on his phone and when I unlocked the phone, I saw that he had used that picture as his wallpaper.
Only, he had cropped me out of it.
Sometimes I’ll sit on the couch, sipping tea, watching my mom hand-feed the spawn tiny pieces of fruit as she munches on them happily and basks in my mom’s attention. And I’ll give the spawn a cut eye. When my mom gives me a hug in front of the spawn, I’ll stick my tongue out at her. When I accidentally break something, I blame it on the spawn. And I’ll take the spawn’s squiggly drawings and present them as my own to my mom.
I hate it when I am having a full-blown, serious conversation with my mom and the spawn waddles in, talking about her toe or something equally dumb and my mom cuts me off to talk to her! To her!
It gets real tense when we visit my parents.
It’s the same thing with friends too. You love that they adore your kid. You love it when your child beams when her bespoke uncles and aunts are around. But then there are times when you show up to a party without your child, excited to spend some well-deserved one on one time with your friends. Then they open the door and see that you showed up alone, and make a sullen face. “Where’s the little one?” they say, looking disappointed that you didn’t bring the smaller, cuter, more charming, more happening version of yourself to the party.
You suddenly stop getting gifts because everyone now has to fit your spawn into their annual birthday gift-giving budget and they’d rather buy your kid cute onesies and toys. So you start getting used Starbucks gift cards or half-eaten sandwiches for your birthday.
For a full year after I returned to work from maternity, coworkers asked me how my kid was doing. Every. Single. Day. She eats, poops and never sleeps. I am doing great, thank you very much for asking.
Post a hot selfie on Facebook: 4 likes. Post of a picture of your child’s snot: 113 likes.
When your husband gets home from work, he drop kicks you to get to the spawn.
This is exactly how Victor Frankenstein must have felt.
But that is life. And I guess being out-shone by your spawn because your loved ones love her that much is a good side effect. For now, I take consolation in the fact that I am still the adult who gets to call the shots, who gets to call my mom whenever I want (especially after the spawn has gone to sleep so I can talk to her uninterrupted).
So come and join The Second-Class Citizens Foundation. Lunch is provided because your mom is too preoccupied with your child to pack you some.