As children, sometimes we couldn’t help but wonder, does my mom have a favorite? Who’s my dad’s best bud? We may have felt pangs of resentment toward our siblings because we were sure they were our parents’ prize. We may have gotten jealous because we were sure that we were not. As grown-ups, we vowed never to be that parent. We assured ourselves that all our kids will be “the favorite.” But here I stand, honest as a reformed Pinocchio, and I admit it: I have a favorite child.
The one who wakes up in the best mood, puts their pants on without a fuss, and even attempts to help me out a little — that’s my favorite child.
The one who kisses me and nuzzles my neck — that too is my favorite child.
The one who is crying because their toy or heart or spirit is broken is my favorite child.
And the one who says something brilliant, or makes me laugh, or makes me cry tears of joy — that’s my favorite child.
The one who looks at me with adoration is my very favorite child.
Whoever’s birthday it is that day is my favorite child.
And the one who has my name on incessant repeat, well, that’s my least favorite child.
The one who cries, throws things, hits, or throws any version of a tantrum is my least favorite child.
And that one who is inconsolable and incomprehensible — well, he is my least favorite child.
They are not one in the same and they change daily, sometimes hourly. I wont apologize for not loving all three of my children the same amount at the same time. I can’t unfeel what I feel, and I can’t unmake it about me. After all, I am me. Sometimes, when the stars are aligned just right and we’ve all miraculously accumulated enough hours of sleep, I have the patience and they have the halos and our day is butterflies pissing rainbows. But these days are rare gems that are hidden under a rock that is covered with grass and a tree…
Here’s the thing: Each kid is loved well, and so I’m at peace with my indecision. And while I may be occasionally throwing a proverbial middle finger to one of my unknowing darlings, I am only doing this on the inside. My smoke screen is on point as I recognize my impatience won’t persist. I adore them all obsessively. Each one of my peanuts has a chance to feel special. You can see me spinning the 2-year-old during our impromptu morning dance party, building a city with my 4-year-old during naptime, and snuggling my baby during the twilight hours. And each time I gaze into their respective baby blues, I think, right now, you are my favorite.
I made these little humans partly to make our world better, but to be honest, I mostly made them for me: to feel a love I’ve never felt before, to reap the rewards of meaningful work, to hold a little piece of God in my arms. So I don’t feel bad when I whisper why each one is my favorite. And while I feel a little selfish guilt about picking the punkin’ of the moment based on my heart’s reaction, I can appreciate that I am not grading by accomplishments or personality or who is most like me.
My guess is my kids will feel special, and they will feel not so special, and they will wonder who my favorite was… It all sounds perfectly familiar to me.