An Open Letter to the Parasite in my Sister’s Uterus

Dear Erasmus,

Yeah, I’ve used that title before.  And you’re the second one to get called Erasmus, too.  Get used to it.  You’re in for a lifetime of being the second one to get things.

I’d have written this sooner, but it’s been hard to figure out what to say.  I was pretty enthusiastic about your mom having a first kid.  I was pretty against her going back for more.  She didn’t like being pregnant, or giving birth, and taking care of a baby wasn’t her cup of tea, either.  I’d have been perfectly happy to be an only child, and I’m sure the same is true for your sibling.  Don’t take this the wrong way, but I care about your mom miles and miles more than anybody else, including you, especially when you aren’t even alive yet.  There didn’t seem to be any point in putting her through all that again.  But she didn’t listen and guess what: so far, you’re way worse than your sibling was.  Cut that out once you get here, okay?

All the things I said about intentions and childhood and whatnot in the other letter apply to you, too, of course.  But I remember your mom being annoyed by hand-me-downs so I don’t want you to get a hand-me-down letter.  I still had my own room in your mom’s house until she started prepping for you to show up, and now I have to stay in the same guest room everybody else uses.  That’s on you, kid, not your sibling.  An affront like that deserves a personalized response.

Everybody in the family, possibly the whole world, knows your mom and I are very close.  That’s a big part of why she didn’t listen to me when I told her to stop at one child; she wants her children to have the kind of relationship we have.  But that’s exactly what’s made it hard to figure out what to say to you, and what made the prospect of her having a second child distressing to me in a way the first wasn’t.  We’re as close as we are in large part because of how we grew up, and you’re not going to have the same experience.  Your mom is good at being a mom.  She listens, and thinks of your sibling as a person.  Even when he can’t communicate what’s happening, she tries to figure out what’s going on inside his head.  I don’t know where she learned how to do that.  And I dunno, maybe she’ll lose track of doing that once you come along, but I don’t think she will.  She and I are as close as we are because we had to be.  That won’t be true for you.

Part of me hopes you and your sibling like each other but, ultimately, you’re more indifferent than not.  That you get along fine as children but go on to be adults and live your own lives and you chat amicably a big family events but that’s all.  That if you are close, it’s the same as when people stay friends with the people they met on the school bus in kindergarten, instead of the kind where the first time you move out, you’re a little bit glad you had to go back because your younger sibling doesn’t know how to cope with life without you and you need to teach them as quickly as possible before you go for good.

As charming as it is that your mom is nudging your older sibling into Little Mermaid fandom to make him like me, I don’t want either of you to take after me.  Or her.  Even if you do things that are similar in shape or effect, I don’t want it to be for the same reasons.  Childhood intrinsically sucks, but yours is going to be better than ours, and I want that to matter enough that you come out different.

Yes, part of me will be deeply satisfied if you’re neurotic, co-dependent, clingingly lonely, and constantly bite the shit out of your mom.  She deserves some time on the other side of that.  It’s okay if you do some or all of that.  It’s okay if you don’t.  Just like it’s okay if both you and your sibling decide to get married and have kids, or neither of you do.  At least one of you should be loudly and abrasively sarcastic, but that’s just because loud and abrasively sarcastic people are good to have around, not because you’re destined to iterate generational patterns.

I do have this for you, and just for you: don’t let being younger define you.  It’s just chance that you’re the second and not the first.  It’ll have an impact – your parents are not going to be the same parents for you they are for your sibling.  That’s how time and experience and humans work.  That’s not on you, so don’t take responsibility for it.  And don’t ever, for even a second, give credence to anybody who sets you up to compete against your sibling.  Friendly rivalry is fine, that’s not what I’m talking about.  But the moment somebody says, “If you were Neil…” or, “The way Neil’s better than you…” just stop listening.  It doesn’t matter how much better you or they think he is compared to you on any given thing.  The premise is nonsense, and the person spouting it is, at best, being temporarily stupid.  Don’t put up with it.  (Neil, if you’re reading this, you have your Aunt’s permission to take a swing at anybody who tries this on either of you.  Don’t embarrass me if you do.)

You’re already the kid who made your mom give up sweets while pregnant.  You hit rock bottom for popularity before you were born.  It’s all uphill from here.  You’ll be fine.

With wry anticipation,

Me

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