As an only child reading biblical and other stories about first-borns, I appreciated that onlies are firsts, but I did not fully appreciate what all the fuss was about. I was first and last simultaneously, or so I thought. But as a father and now as a grandfather, it has come into focus more clearly than ever before.
The magic of firsts is the humility of admitting that you are not prepared at all. No matter how well-educated or how wealthy you are, there's nothing like a first newborn to put you in your place. No matter how many cousins you've helped raise or how many double-shifts you've put in on the line, there's nothing like that first baby to give you some much needed perspective.
The other precious thing about firsts for me is how fleeting they are. Before you barely have a chance to understand the immensity of change they bring to your life - first job, first degree, first love, first loss.... they are tremendously memorable and so quickly joined and shared by the second, third and subsequent iterations. I'm still far from over the wonder and magic of my first granddaughter when I am suddenly blessed with a second.
The first will always be the first, though. No one can ever take that from them. As with her father, there was a brief moment in time that she was the only one of her kind. It was the blink of an eye when I hung on every movement, every glance, every expression and indecipherable babble. I still hang on them, but the difference now is that they are shared. My first son shared my endless love with his brothers when they were born and now my first granddaughter shares me with her 1st cousin (my 2nd granddaughter) - though she has no idea yet what a grandfather or cousin are. Those brief moments in time, the firsts, are the intensity that inspire us and give us confidence that maybe we can survive the onslaught after all. Maybe love is enough, maybe we can make it together. The firsts give me hope that God isn't done with us yet, and 2nds and 3rds bring their very own unique blessings to prove it.