When I was a kid, I remember bickering with my brother about which one of us was our parents’ favorite. Each one of us insistent that we were the chosen one. At some point (likely when the volume reached an unbearably loud decibel) one of our parents would break up the fight, assuring us that - of course - they loved us both equally.
Now that I’m a parent though, I know the truth.
The truth is that despite the fact that they surely did love each of us the same, they didn’t necessarily like us at the same level. For my dad who isn’t much of a “baby guy”, those early years were kind of torturous and he tended to gravitate toward the older of us. For my mom who was easily worn down during my teenage years, my younger brother was the one she bonded with at that time.
I totally get it, because confession: now that I am a mother of three, I too have a favorite child.
I used to feel guilty about it, but now I realize that it’s just normal...part of the ebb and flow of life as a parent. While I very much love all of my children equally, I also connect with each of them in different ways - especially during different seasons and stages.
As far as my “favorite child” goes, it is always changing.
Some days my favorite is my littlest. At only 7-months-old, she still has her sweet innocence. She is happy smiles and simple solutions all day long. For the most part, her problems are easily solved. If she’s grumpy...she’s either hungry, tired or needs a diaper change. It’s pretty basic and her good-natured demeanor and sweet baby smell is one I wish I could bottle up for always. Other days she is grumpy because maybe she’s teething or overstimulated and nothing I do will quite work to console her...those days are a little less favorite.
Some days my middle child is my favorite. He is the snuggliest boy and is bursting at the seams with personality. He has a grateful heart and is absolutely hilarious. He keeps us all in stitches daily. On the flip side, he is also stubborn as a mule. He can dig in his heels like no other and has been known to be obstinate for the sake of obstinence. He also has one volume and it is LOUD. On the stubborn and extra loud days, I find myself gravitating toward a different child.
Some days my oldest is my favorite. There is just something about that first child that forever imprints your heart as a mother. I love how responsible and helpful she is and I love seeing her grow into her personality. She is getting older and is at an age where we can now do fun things together, which makes it easy to connect with her. There is also the fact that she is just like me, so we butt heads...often. I adore her, but some days she’s exhausting...mostly because it’s like dealing with myself and all of my own quirks, but that’s a story for a different day.
The favorite child award is a moving target. Sometimes the “favorite” is my favorite for the day...sometimes for the week...maybe even for a season. But at one point or another they all find themselves in the favorite seat and I think that’s OK.
I used to worry that this feeling made me a bad parent, but three kids deep, I don’t even feel the tiniest bit guilty about it. I think if most people were honest they would probably even admit to feeling similarly. During different phases of life there are different challenges and that affects how we connect. Just like my husband isn't always my most favorite person during certain times in life. It's OK. Sometimes we connect more...sometimes less. At the end of the day we still love each other fiercely and isn’t that really all that matters?
As for my own parents, I recently brought up my childhood suspicions and their response?
“Of course we had favorites! Don’t all parents?”