On my way to work, I listened to a piece on NPR about how parental favoritism can affect children's health. Even the child's perception about the parents having a favorite child can have impacts. As it does with nearly anything related to parenting, my maternal guilt emerged and I instantly started questioning myself as to whether or not I had a favorite child.
Parents aren't supposed to have favorites. My parents always assured us that they didn't have favorites. But apparently, research shows 80% of children think their parents have a favorite child.
I love all my children, but I started examining myself to see if I was showing favoritism.
Is Bug my favorite?
He's my oldest, and we had 4 years where it was just us, no other children to distract me from him. He's the one that made me a mother. He's such a smart kid, always at the top of his classes. Just this week, as we reviewed his grades, he told me that he had done some extra credit to bring his Literacy grade up from a 92%. He's self motivated, never needing any reminders to get his homework done. His sarcastic side is starting to develop, so much so I occasionally remind him to bring the snark down a level. He loves to read and draw. I see so much of myself in him, and I love that.
Is Monkey my favorite?
I had a little more experience in parenting when Monkey came along. I wasn't as uptight and demanding and thoroughly enjoyed things more this time around. I had significantly more time at home with Monkey, both as a newborn and then a few years later. Monkey has always been more laid back, more all around happy. He's such a creative soul, with a delightful lack of self awareness that is beautiful. He's so kind and loving. Even at 8, he still enjoys hugs and piggy back rides and snuggles during story time. He's got such a big imagination and is constantly telling me stories about alien worlds and grand adventures. He's so different from me, and I love that.
Is Duck my favorite?
When Duck arrived, it had been quite awhile since there had been a baby in our house. With all the work it took to get Duck here, the emotions were a little different, maybe a little stronger. Also, the knowledge that he is our last baby has made everything a little more bitter sweet. With his toddler antics, he takes up the majority of my time and attention. His sweet baby smile melts my heart. I delight in each new word and milestone. I know I spoil him, maybe just a little too much. He's the baby of our family, and I love that.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that I don't have a favorite child. I really do love each and every one of them fiercely.
They do each take it in turns to see who can chip away at my patience and sanity.
Bug has his days of pre-teen sullenness and times he is bossy and mean to his younger brothers. Monkey has moments where he straight out ignores everything I say and will get his feelings hurt when I ask if he's fed the cats. Duck has times where he deliberately colors on all the walls, bites my legs when I'm cooking dinner and stuffs all his toys under the couch.
But there isn't a child who bothers me more than the others, who frustrates me excessively, that I'm just done with.
So, I'm just going to continue to tell my children what my parents told me. I love them all the same amount. Which is with all of my heart, more than they can imagine, to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond, forever and ever.