My great-grandmother raised nine terrific and interesting daughters (NINE!) with aplomb and considerable laughter in the 1920s-30s-40s (since there were nine, it took several decades). She's featured in many a family story and still, three generations later, her example of wit and spunk and good humor makes me wish I could sit with her on the porch and have a good long chat. A few years back, I managed to get my hands on a talk she once gave and it gave me the pep talk I craved from one of my mothering gurus. One particularly reassuring part reads:
"First, relax and enjoy your children. 99% of them turn out all right anyway. Just let your memory go back to all the obnoxious little boys and girls you used to know and think of them now. They're not delinquents. They're married now and going to work each morning, coming home at night to work in the yard, play with their children, go out with friends. They don't get their names in the papers as the 1% who are delinquents do, but they are the salt of the earth and yours will be among them, so love them and stop worrying.
"Especially ease up on the oldest one. My, we expect a lot of the first one. We set out to show the world what we can do, and it is a wonder they survive at all with all our constant, erratic, unreasonable supervision. It is a good thing that children are resilient and so loyal. They forgive and love us anyway."
I re-read this recently and it had me thinking. What do you think about birth order and how you treat your children? Are you tougher on your oldest child? (I think I am.)
(By the way, relax and enjoy are words that need to be tattooed on my forehead. Or, better yet, on my kids' foreheads where I can see them, haha!)