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May 22 2012

We Don’t Love Our Firstborn More, We Swear

By at 4:07 pm

little boy eating yogurtOne day my daughter will ask me, “Daddy, why was my naming ceremony a small gathering in the synagogue while Asher’s bris was a large bash at our house?”

Yes, my princess, you might be thinking it’s because your religion is sexist and your parents already like their firstborn son better. And perhaps this writing is nothing more than me trying to convince myself it’s not the case. But here’s why I don’t think so: first, right now, your brother is covered in yogurt. A few minutes ago, he screamed and fell on the floor when I took my car keys back from him. So, I don’t like him better. And is your religion sexist? Maybe you should read about exactly what goes down at a bris.

The real reason, I must confess, is that your mother and I are tired. We are so tired we don’t even remember what it was like not to be tired. Hell, we don’t even remember what it feels like to be in that state that we would formerly describe as tired–like, after I took the bar exam. It takes several grams of caffeine per day just to chase your brother and keep him from destroying our house, letting our dogs loose (omg! Did I feed the dogs last night?), and wandering out into traffic. You are more or less permanently attached to your mother’s breasts and you eat like a pig, but easier to contain.

There is just. No. F-ing. Way we can clean up the house and arrange a party with someone playing a guitar and taking cute professional pictures. We will die in the process.

And then there’s the cold, hard truth. The firstborn is the firstborn. The celebrations are as much about being initiated into parenthood as they are a celebration of the child’s birth. It is a whole new life. And when we celebrate your naming this Shabbat, on the day of your grandfather’s yahrzeit and your aunt’s birthday, we will be hoping you get initiated into that fellowship one day, too. And believe me, it’s not because we like your brother better. He just threw a soda can at our dog.


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