Monday, 20 August 2012

Who's Your Favourite Kid?

    Elly has begun this habit of climbing into bed with us every morning between 5:00 and 5:30.  It's like clock work, the door opens, and then a little blond head comes bobbing in, then climbs our bed, and settles herself in between us.  I'll be honest, I love that little body snuggled in beside me, it makes me smile every single morning (even with her smelly little feet in my face).  I usually coo over her like she was a tiny baby, and tell her how much I love her.  This morning as she lay between us she looked up at me and asked "Momma, who's your favourite?"  My reply was quick, "you".  She smiled like she had already suspected that answer all along.  Is she my favourite? No, no I can honestly say that I love them all equally.

    I have had many conversations with many different moms who say that they do have a favourite.  I have learned to train my face to a passive look (which is really tricky for me because I am extremely opinionated).  Then it comes, "Is that wrong?"  In my head I am shouting "YES", but my calm response comes with the well trained face, "Well I suppose if you don't make it obvious."  The thing is that I don't know how you could hide such a glaring feeling from the other kid.  To me that would create sibling rivalry, and feelings of inadequacy.  Perhaps it's not a choice for those mothers.  Maybe they have an internal battle everyday, and feel shame for feeling that way.  I cannot judge, I am not a perfect parent, but a work in progress.  I make all kinds of mistakes.  Maybe the sibling rivalry pushes the "not favourite" to accomplish more, be more successful.  Who am I to judge?  I will tell you in 20 years if I done a good job at this child rearing thing, or if I feel obligated to pay for their therapy bills.
    My Papa, my mothers father confided to my Mother that she was his favourite child.  My is the youngest of five.  My mother carried that feeling of being special, the chosen one around with her.  In a big family it is easy to feel left out, but being your father's favourite would be like carrying a little container around of pure love.  When my mother was only in her early twenties my Papa died of stomach cancer.  I honestly cannot imagine having to deal with that grief at that young of an age.  Many years later, Mom confided to one of her brothers (I think it was my Uncle Johnny) that Papa had told her that she was his favourite.  He just laughed, because Papa had told him that he was his favourite.  After talking amongst the five of them, they came to discover that Papa had confided in each one of them that they were his favourite, and bound them to secrecy.  He told them not to tell their other siblings because it might hurt their feelings.  Even in just typing this out, it makes me smile.
    At our house we have a running joke.  When one of the kids brings forward their petition of some "unfairness"(something is always "NOT FAIR"), I have the same response every time.  "Because I love (insert name here) the most.  He / she is my favourite".  This is inevitably met with much eye rolling, and takes the sting out of their perceived injustice.    We were out in public one time and a woman gave me dagger eyes.  Another time a different woman peeled with laughter and told me she was stealing that one for her own kids.  If Rowan is in ear shot of "Because I Love......." he always interjects with "No you don't Mommy.  Everyone knows that I am your favourite!"
   My five children are all very different.  They all have different and unique needs.  They each take turns being the high maintained child.  Each of them in their own right has kept me awake at night with worry.  I love them all the same, but differently, because they are all so different.  There is always one of them that makes me want to strangle them at that point in time, but that kid is never the same for very long (all though some of them stay in that position for longer periods than others), they rotate that position. There are kids that have more of my negative personality aspects, and that makes us butt heads, but I get them.  There are kids that have their father's less desirable personality traits, but I have learned how to overcome most of his shortcomings.
    I guess that I am lucky, because I truly don't have a favourite.  I carry enough guilt for my parental shortcomings without adding to that list "having a favourite".  To have a favourite would be to create a wedge between your children, but more than that, it would create sadness in the child / children that were not the favourite.  I cannot imagine choosing to favour one at the expense of another.  That must mean that these mothers must wrestle with that guilt every single day, I for one will not be the first one to throw a rock and add to that enormous load.

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