Earlier this week I read Your One Year Old. I providentially found it at the JC book sale before Z turned one in May. The book was published in 1982 and in some ways seems kind of old-fashioned (writing styles have changed in the last couple of decades I guess) and some things are out of date like actually suggesting that parents take seriously the theory of Constitutional Psychology (like "mesomorphs" and that sort of thing!). However, in many ways it was right on target and was very helpful to read. So, things that Z is doing now that are very wearing such as biting, hitting, running away, etc. are apparently classic "One" things to do. That is very helpful! I felt similarly when I read Your Three Year Old earlier this year--it was very on target and helpful to read.
I liked this reminder regarding your child's basic temperament:
"The important things are two: (1) that you try to understand him as he is and (2) that you do not congratulate or blame yourselves for the way your boy or girl turns out. It has often been said that it is possible, if you do all the 'right' things, to help your child live at his top level, expressing his very highest and best potentials. But if these potentials are less than terrific, this will not be because of something you have done or failed to do. Human intelligence and potential vary, genetically, from brilliant to rather dull. You do not determine this level by things you do or do not do. Human personality ranges from the charming, delightful, and clever to the less than charming, less than delightful, less than clever. Some children are secure, happy, and giving, almost from the moment of birth. Others find life difficult, also from the moment of birth (or before)."
Reading this book also made me reflect about how much better psychologically I feel as a mother to Z than I do/did to L. L is my "guinea pig"--with Z, even though he is a very different kid, I feel much more at ease and competent. It is hard to explain in writing. L is the one who makes me stretch and grow and who has challenged my sense of self immensely. Z is kind of just coming along behind and all is well--even if it isn't (like he is biting or whatever, I still have a basic sense of competence in mothering him, whereas with L is is always new and always changing and I'm not the "expert" yet! And that is very hard on my self-esteem!) To clarify, I feel equally close and attached to each of them in terms of the quality of our relationship, but my level of insecurity is different. I can see how it would be possible to have mothering become *easier* the more kids you have (if the sense of competence increases with each, LOL! ;-) Okay, I guess maybe psychologically easier--I imagine physically, financially, and attention-split-between-too-many-bodies it would be harder! Okay, just rambling now...should make dinner instead!