Memaw sent me a letter for Mother's Day, and in it she included an excerpt from Erma Bombeck. I haven't heard of this author before but I'm glad Memaw introduced me to Erma because she was quite the humorist/columnist and I'm a sucker for any sarcastic and thoughtful words on motherhood. So many quotes of Erma's float around the internet and yet it was difficult for me to find a proper source for this poem. I believe it was originally written by Bombeck in 1971 but there seem to be quite a few variations. Memaw sent this to me because Erma talks about her three children and well, I can definitely relate to much of it. Maybe you can, too.
I’ve Always Loved You Best Because … (By Erma Bombeck)
It is normal for children to want assurance that they are loved. Having all the warmth of the Berlin Wall, I have always admired women who can reach out to pat their children and not have them flinch.
Feeling more comfortable on paper, I wrote the following for each of my children.
To the First-born: I’ve always loved you best because you were our first miracle. You were the genesis of a marriage, the fulfillment of young love, the promise of our infinity.
You sustained us through the hamburger years. The first apartment furnished in Early Poverty...the 7-inch television set we paid on for 36 months.
You wore new, had unused grandparents and more clothes than a Barbie doll. You were the “original model” for unsure parents trying to work the bugs out. You got the strained lamb and three-hour naps.
You were the beginning.
To the Middle Child: I’ve always loved you the best because you drew a dumb spot in the family and it made you stronger.
You cried less, had more patience, wore faded, and never in your life did anything “first,” but it only made you more special. You are the one we relaxed with and realized a dog could kiss you and you wouldn’t get sick. You could cross a street by yourself long before you were old enough to get married, and the world wouldn’t come to an end if you went to bed with dirty feet.
You were the continuance.
To the Baby: I’ve always loved you the best because endings generally are sad and you are such a joy. You readily accepted the mild-stained bibs. The lower bunk. The cracked baseball bat. The baby book, barren but for a recipe for graham cracker pie crust that someone jammed between the pages.
You are the one we held onto so tightly. For you see, you are the link with the past that gives a reason for tomorrow. You darken our hair, quicken our steps, square our shoulders, restore our vision, and give us humor that security and maturity can’t give us.
When your hairline takes on the shape of Lake Erie and your children tower over you, you will still be “the Baby.”
You were the culmination.
That Erma. She really said it best. But I must add that I love these kids so much that it physically hurts my heart sometimes.
Feeling grateful for Truman, Cecelia, and Porter today.