Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Playing Favorites, Why I Don't Have A Favorite Child

A friend on Facebook, a younger woman with no kids (who reads my blog anyway, and still thinks it's interesting) asked me if I had a favorite child, and how I handle that.

I think this comes up for a lot of people. Especially if they don't have kids yet. Or if they had siblings and think their parents maybe favored one over another.

I joke sometimes, that my favorite kid is whichever one is on my lap right now. Or whoever buys me wine first (in which case, Bonus Kid wins!)

But the truth is, I don't have a favorite. I love each of them for being who they are, and so each relationship is totally unique to them.

I remember when I was pregnant with Piper. In the afternoons I was so tired, I'd lie down and nap with Reagan. I'd look at his little face as he slept, and wonder how I could ever love another person with the fierce intensity of love that I had for him.

But then she was born, and there it was. She was mine and I was hers. The love part, it just happened.

The relationships though, those take time.

And, to be fair, I'm a person, and I think we're drawn to other people that we can connect to easily. We have to work harder to connect with our kids when they're different than we are.

Bridget, for example, is a very different person than I am. One day she yelled at me that I didn't understand her, and I saw...I could tell, that this was a moment in which I would win her or lose her.

I think this is an opportunity a lot of parents have and miss entirely.

I looked her in the eye and told the truth.

I told her that I really didn't understand her. But I wanted to. I told her I wanted to spend the rest of my life getting to know who she is. Because while she's not like me, she's amazing, and I love her.

If I had lied, she would have known. She would have known deep down in her core, that it wasn't true. And there would have been something broken between us.

Looking back, I think that I didn't give my parents enough credit, when I was younger. I was different from them, but I think they wanted to understand me. I think they would have tried, if they'd known how to ask, or if I'd known how to explain.

So I won't make that mistake with my kids. I'll make totally different mistakes instead. But each one of them has to know that they're good enough. That there's no bar to be reached in order to earn my love. Each one of them has to know that they're not splitting my love. That they have a love that can only be theirs. And each one of them has to know that whether they're easy for me to understand, or hard, I want to.

So, I don't have a favorite. They're all my favorite. They're all amazing people that I am truly lucky to know. But relationships are built. And parents have to do the work to build them. If we don't, our kids will wonder why we don't love them enough to want to know them, or why we love their sibling more.

I don't want my kids to carry that.

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