I grew up the middle child of three and I was known as “the communicator.” My brother was four years older than me.  My sister was five years younger. My brother passed away more than a decade ago and my sister vanished into a world of drugs.

We three were the children of the same parents, but not really. Matt and I had a lot of similarities, but our personalities could hardly have been more different.

We do not create the children we dream of, if indeed we dream of children — and not all of us do. They are not those little chips off our personal blocks. We learn to understand them, eventually — or at least mostly — but it’s remarkable how different we are from our kids.

My mother was a hands on person. She painted, sewed. She was athletic.  She loved books, but she loved the outdoors more. Horses and ice skates and bob-sledding. All I wanted to do was read. I could not hook a rug or knit to save my life.

The single thing my siblings and I all shared was a basic failure to understand numbers. We made them work, somehow, but we weren’t kids who had that “instant grasp” of numbers as a language. We suffered through arithmetic and were nearly undone by geometry … only to be buried under trigonometry and algebra. It’s a pity. I actually loved science … until it got to the numbers part. Then I sank like a stone.

So we were three kids from the same two parents with personalities entirely different from each other. My sister seemed like a kid who dropped into the cabbage patch by the stork. My brother was merely different.


We always say “Oh, we all had the same parents,” but we didn’t. Our parents were  different. The oldest sibling had the youngest “what are we doing with this kid?” parents. The youngest kid had the most mature parents. By the time they made it to the littlest kid, they had parenting basics down. They had eased up a lot on restrictions. I always thought if my mother had given me the freedom my sister automatically got and didn’t appreciate, life would have been grand.

I told her that, shortly before she died.

“Well,” she said. “Parents have to grow up too.”

That isn’t something we get until we have our own children or have other experience with children in “parenting” ways. That’s when you look back and say “Oh. I see. Now it makes sense.”

17 thoughts on “THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT

  1. lifelessons September 12, 2017 / 12:25 am

    I LOVE seeing these old photographs..They are so telling. You were adorable. Your brother was a cutie as well. I’m ready for more stories.oxox


    • Marilyn Armstrong September 12, 2017 / 12:41 am

      Most of my childhood stories were not very happy. My father was kind of awful and we didn’t really enjoy life until we were out of the house — which for Matthew and I was very young. Both of us were gone before we were 17.


      • lifelessons September 12, 2017 / 1:45 am

        Sorry..Hope your happy life now compensates.. better than the other way around, I would think.


  2. lwbut September 12, 2017 / 2:20 am

    Your Mom got it right – parents have to grow up just as much as their kids (usually) 😉

    You’d think that after billions of parents raising kids for more than 10,000 years SOMEBODY could have written down all you need to know (or at least the basics) about the right and wrong way to bring up kids, huh?



    • Marilyn Armstrong September 12, 2017 / 8:46 pm

      They write it down, but the world is never the same from one generation to next. Hell, even a decade makes a huge difference in how the world works. We learn many truths that aren’t true soon thereafter.


      • lwbut September 12, 2017 / 11:54 pm

        I recall the 60’s child guru Dr Spock’s son died by suicide so we should probably take what we read with a large grain of salt…. but still…. haven’t we learned ANYTHING we can pass on to our kids as to how to raise a good’un in all this time?



        • Marilyn Armstrong September 13, 2017 / 12:47 am

          Mostly, it’s common sense. The problem is that sense is not common and probably never was.

          Liked by 1 person

          • lwbut September 13, 2017 / 1:39 am

            Ooohhhh you got THAT dead right! 😉



  3. swo8 September 12, 2017 / 10:08 am

    I’m going to remember your mother’s come back “Parents have to grow up too” if challenged about my parenting skills by our children.


    • Marilyn Armstrong September 12, 2017 / 8:45 pm

      It was right on the money, too. My mother learned a lot between one child and the next. I stopped at one, so who knows what I might have learned?

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 September 13, 2017 / 9:42 am

        I know I learned a lot from each one of mine.


        • Marilyn Armstrong September 13, 2017 / 11:17 am

          I think the hardest part is realizing that kids have stuff we need to learn, too. Unless you want to stay frozen in whatever time you come from, you need to not only tell them, but also listen 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • swo8 September 13, 2017 / 11:39 am

            It’s helpful to look at life with fresh eyes.


  4. Garry Armstrong September 12, 2017 / 12:48 pm

    I wonder if we ever truly grow up.


    • Marilyn Armstrong September 12, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      I don’t know about growing up, but we definitely got old. Is that the same thing?


  5. judyt54 September 12, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    One of my bosses used to say, “Girls grow up to be women. Little boys grow up to be little boys…” And he was right. Look at almost any man, and you can see the boy glinting in his eyes and his grin. Look at any woman and you see her mother.
    These are, btw, great photos. I love family photos…


    • Marilyn Armstrong September 12, 2017 / 8:47 pm

      True enough. I’ve never been for trying to make the sexes the same … just to give them the same opportunities.


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