The perks of being the first of your friends to have a baby
Being the first of your friends to have a baby definitely has its perks – they just don't involve boys' surf trips to Bali, discovers Sam Cummins.
You may be aware of the saying “The first will be last, and the last will be first.” It was certainly true for our family. We ended up being the first of our group of friends to have a baby, and pretty much the last in our group of friends to have a baby too. Now that is what I call family planning.
There’s a high chance that if you’re reading this, you’re about to have a baby or have just had one. Congrats! I would say that everything changes when you have a baby – but wherever you go, there you are…
A lot has been written on the big life changes that having a baby brings. The good stuff has been well covered; sex, how to deal with the shame of driving a people mover, how to live on half the sleep and money you used to. All the other little things just kind of fall into place.
Not a lot though has been written on the joys of being the first breeder. Oh and what a joy it is.
Being the first of your crew to have a baby is certainly an interesting experience. The closest analogy in 2021 is being an up-and-coming pop star, releasing a hit single, and then getting cancelled six months later for wearing a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat to a fancy dress party.
You would have to have a pretty stoic and non-emotional crew for them not be excited about a baby joining the ranks. Who doesn’t love a baby? Just like an on the come-up pop star, everyone wants to be your friend, know what’s going on with the lil' guy or girl, give name suggestions (baby or pop song, what’s the difference?).
There is a palpable excitement, people seem to genuinely care and want to be connected to what’s happening. You need babysitters? All good man, I’ve got your back…
And then the song (or baby) drops. And it’s a banger! All of a sudden you’re a celebrity, getting given free stuff, people dropping off food and wanting photos. Visitors, visitors, visitors. Everyone wants a piece of the action.
But then … reality kicks in. And it kicks hard. The MAGA hat seemed like a good idea at the time, and so did the regular New Year’s hikoi to Shippies, only this year we’re taking a baby. It’s cool until it's not, and the worst part is people are so nice they’ve already turned the music down, given you the best room, moved the evening meal forward and so on without you even having to ask. You don’t need to be an empath to know that this can’t go on forever. You can just imagine what they’re thinking:
“Who brings a baby on a surf trip?”
“Why won’t that baby stop crying?”
“All the chilly bin space is being used for baby food and now I’m standing here drinking a lukewarm VB – they’re out!”
People keep trying for a while, but let’s face it – you’re tired, broke and boring. Plus, you always have to get back home early. The phone stops ringing.
This, of course, is normal and the natural order of things. They don’t want to feign interest in a convo on nappy rash, and while you can live vicariously through their Indo trip photos, it does leave a bit of a sour aftertaste.
My advice – enjoy it. Life’s full of interruptions, make the most of that time you can. Stay at home, eat crap food, put on weight!
Believe me, a time will come very shortly when your phone will start ringing again, particularly as your friends start to have children themselves. You will now be viewed as the wisdom-filled elder, enjoy dishing out the advice, and while it’s good to be kind, it's also okay to enjoy a little bit
of schadenfreude too...
Sam Cummins is a funding and policy manager living in the Bay of Plenty with his wife and four sons. Most of his spare time is spent trying to figure out which of his three older boys is yelling ‘Dad!’ Often it’s all of them, and all at the same time.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 53 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW