Warning: Severe sarcasm zone. Snarky tones abound. Enter at your own risk, and take most statements with a
bag grain of salt.
I have three children. My daughter, Principessa, is 24; my son, Middle Man, is 22, and the baby of the family, Little Man, is 17 and a half. I love all three of my children very much. Any mother would tell you that they love their children equally; there are no favorites. However, when we’re honest, we might confide that there are things we like especially about one child or another.
For instance, my daughter really cares about people. She gets them; she studies them. Principessa’s a real life and world traveler. She’s passionate about experiencing it all, and she gets out there and does it. She’s adventurous and has lived in the Middle East for much of the last four years. She follows her heart, and is gutsy and sharp. Her ability to understand emotions, informs her intellect, and she generally weighs issues for emotional as well as intellectual content. I love that about her.
Middle Man is great at working out details; he’s very practical. He is not overly emotional, but he cares about doing the right thing. He has become increasingly good at not carrying issues around with him, something I admire. The older I get, the more I appreciate and respect his ability to see through the details and emotions, and accept things the way they are. He’s smart, charismatic and finishing college next week. He rarely holds grudges, and is light years ahead of me in letting go of stuff. I love that about him.
Little Man is a very sensitive kid. Some of it, undoubtedly, comes from being the youngest, but he was born tender-hearted. He was a joyful young child, and unusually thoughtful as he got older. He cares about how other people feel, and considers that when making choices. He’s very intelligent, but not in the obvious ways that his older brother and sister demonstrate. His is a quiet intellect. Just the same, when I’m trying to work something out– be it technology or an interpersonal issue– he often surprises me with his well-rounded perspective. I love that about Little Man.
Due to their two-year age-gap, Principessa and Middle Man spent many years living at home together as siblings and were very close when they were little, while Little Man (4-6 years younger) has been alone at home, with his dad and I, for all of high school, and most of middle school. Although he and Principessa are much more alike than either of his siblings are to one another, overall, Little Man is very different from his older siblings. Middle Man is a strong blending of his father and I, while Principessa is a lot more like me, than her father. Little Man is distinctly his own person. He is different from his father, and only resembles me in small ways. We put the same ingredients in the bowl, but clearly got three very different cakes!
Frankly, if you look at the expressions on those two little faces, you can almost see the trepidation, days before Little Man arrived (10 days late, in 95º weather, weighing nearly 9 pounds! Just sayin’… if anyone has a right to kvetch…)
As is so often the case with siblings, over the years Principessa and Middle Man have become convinced that I “spoil” their little brother. Again, they have not lived at home with him for a long time now, but when they are visiting, or call home, they frequently feel compelled to let me know that things are not done the way they think they should be… Translation: it seems I am not raising their brother to their standards. Further, they maintain that the parenting I do with Little Man is a pale resemblance to the
hardships they endured parenting I used on them.
They see an endless stream of injustices, reams of “that’s not fair,” in the way we treat LM, versus how we treated them… And let’s be clear, these accusations are most often launched at me, their mother… not their Dad. It is Mom who “lets Little Man get away with so much more!” It’s me who “doesn’t hold him accountable,” who “enables him,” who treats him “like a baby.” Of course, according to them, I “didn’t do any of these things for” them! In fact, listening to my two older kids, you would think that while their little brother has a mother who spoils him; that he lives in the lap of motherly luxury, they were raised by wolves!
One wolf… a she-wolf… with fangs and little empathy for pups… who barely provided sustenance… and nipped and bit at them all the time… on the tundra… in the dark… in the cold… and dark, did I mention dark?
Apparently my making dinner for their little brother is something I didn’t really do for them. This is strange to me, because I recall cooking thousands of gluten-free (Principessa is GF) and vegetarian (only Middle Man) meals, over the years. It’s hard to remember, now, why I made that effort… since Little Man doesn’t eat either, and his older brother and sister were alone in the wild. Nor do they recall that I’ve always, always, believed in the family meal. We eat together every night, unless we absolutely can’t.
Way back when their dad was training, I would pack home-cooked dinners and take my wee pups to the hospital cafeteria, so they could eat with their dad. We have always eaten our dinners together… But then, I’m old, maybe I’ve forgotten the harsh realities they survived.
The fact that I prepare a meal and sit down with their “little” brother, and can’t always talk on the phone, when they call me at dinnertime (from far-flung time zones and college dorms), is a horse of another color! “Mom, this is important! Little Man doesn’t need you to feed him. He isn’t a baby.”
As if I’m actually putting the food in his mouth! Because, you know, that’s how we wolf bitches role. We chew it and feed it to our pups… from our mouths. Wild like. Grrr.
While I recall driving both of them to countless sport practices, friends’ houses, parties, dances, school, etc, apparently my doing it for their brother is coddling. “He has his license! Why do you have to take him?”
“Mom, he can make his own dinner,” I hear when I mention that I’m tired. Well, yes, yes he can. However, I don’t recall his siblings telling me to kick back and put my feet up, when they were in high school. And while I’m damned for feeding him, I’m doubly damned for not making sure he eats more nutritiously. Of course, when they were his age, they were very conscientious about fruits and vegetable intake and balancing carbs with proteins. They never ate donuts or junk. They always asked for more salad and passed on burgers/fries/etc.
Oh wait… that’s right; how would I know? I didn’t feed them.
Apparently, I also allow him to watch “too much TV” and “play too many video games.” There are “all kinds of studies,” they tell me, about video game playing and violence. None of that was true, when they were playing Sims or the clearly less problematic first editions, of the very same games he plays now. I also let him stay up much later than they were ever allowed, despite the fact that I don’t remember either of them having a bedtime, as seniors in high school.
It comes down to this: the discrepancies between how I mother their little brother and how I mothered them, clearly have nothing to do with the fact that they have both finally grown up, and see the value in eating well, watching less TV/video games, walking to locations versus getting rides, family dinners, and numerous other things that I would have said/done for them, if I’d been mothering them. It has nothing to do with their changing perspective. It’s all about the fact that suddenly, a few years ago, I decided to be a good mother to my youngest–
because I love him more.
After years of hardship that my older two survived… years in the wilderness… after having been raised by wolves themselves– they see things very differently. Hopefully their brother will make it on his own, when he goes out into the world! Howwwwl!
Do your kids get along? Are they best friends, or do they nip and yip at each other? Does birth order play a role in how they see things? Are you spoiling your youngest too?
Like seriously? Really? As if I didn’t sweat buckets for the other two as well! Really?
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers in some capacity!
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