Note: READ THE FOLLOW UP.
Okay. This post is serious. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time, but I’ve been too afraid to say. I can’t be the only one out there who feels this way, though. Because moms aren’t perfect. Maybe we pretend that we are in front of other moms, lest we be judged for our failings. But we do all have them. And so…I’ve taken a deep breath, and I’m going to share.
I think I love my son just a little bit more than my daughter.
See, I have two kids. I have a 3-year-old girl, and a 20-month-old boy. I love them both, don’t get me wrong. I find both of them amazing and fascinating (and frustrating!) in different ways. They are both clearly mine and I love them and want to keep them forever.
They are so very different. My daughter was my first baby, and born under not-ideal circumstances (taken away from me right after birth, not brought back for awhile; I was sick a lot in the first several months too and it was hard to care for her). Being my first, I was so uncertain as it was; the extra difficult circumstances made things even worse. There were times I literally couldn’t care for her in the early weeks because I was too sick. We struggled with breastfeeding too. It took us months to bond at all. That’s really a story for another day, though.
I didn’t have that “OMG I love you!” moment at her birth. And she’s a very independent, challenging little girl. She wants things her way, all the time. And she acts out a lot by being extremely rude and defiant when she’s unhappy. Okay, so, she’s me. I know that. It doesn’t make it any easier.
Then my son was born. I had worried, during his pregnancy, about what the early months would be like. I wouldn’t have the uninterrupted time to bond with him the way I’d had with my daughter. What if I didn’t love him immediately, either?
I needn’t have worried. The second he was placed into my arms, he was mine. His birth was entirely different. We were given time to bond immediately. I wasn’t sick. I never wanted to put him down. People had to tell me to put him down and let him sleep so I could rest too. I wanted to snuggle him forever. (The way I parented him as an infant, almost night and day different from the way I’d parented my daughter, was obvious.)
And he’s a different kid, too. He’s a snuggly kid. He’s a “hold me!” kid. He’s definitely a mama’s boy. And his reaction to stress? To silently fling himself into my arms and just hold on tight. When I’m feeling pretty unhappy, that’s a reaction that’s much easier to deal with than a child who screams at me, “No, I won’t do it! You stop it!!”
There are moments in my Sophie’s Choice type musings when I wonder which child it would really be worse to lose…if I were ever forced to choose. I immediately feel awful and want to go and hug them both and never let them go. It’s like watching a bus accident on TV: you can’t help but wonder, “What if that was my kid??” And then you are horrified that anything could ever happen to your precious children…it can’t, it just can’t!!
Then I feel terrible and ashamed for ever having thought such a thing, because I really love my daughter and I would never want to lose her at all. When she’s not being defiant, she’s a lovely little girl who makes me laugh and marvel at all of the stories she tells and all the things she can do. She was a very late talker so there are times that I still want to write down every word that comes out of her mouth and hold it up and cherish it. And she’s been talking non-stop for a year now.
The thing is, in the day-to-day life, I find it easier to gravitate towards my son. I’m more patient with him. I’m less likely to get angry with him (though I do, if he does something he shouldn’t). I’m more likely to pick him up and snuggle him, or to get something he asks for quickly. I’m less patient with my daughter, more likely to fight with her or refuse to get her something for no good reason (which she doesn’t make any easier by literally asking non-stop until I say “Enough! The answer is no!”). These are really on my worst days though…on my better days, my normal days, I make more effort to try to be fair to both.
I could make a dozen excuses for this in my head. I try to rationalize it. She’s a daddy’s girl, so I hope that he makes up for all the areas in which I lack as a parent. I hope and pray everyday that she remembers the best times with both of us, and doesn’t resent me especially for the fact that I am harder on her than her brother.
But I know that if I don’t do something about this, and try to get over my weird hang ups and actually be the parent, that she will grow up to accuse me of these things: “Why were you so tough on me? Why were you so impatient? Why didn’t you hold me and love me like you did him?” And I could answer in a thousand ways…because he wanted me to hold him more, because he is more sensitive, because he is younger…because he needed me more….
It’s not good enough. Because she would be right, and I would have nothing that I could say. I completely accept that the worst of her behavior (which is thankfully not too often) is entirely my fault. It’s my fault for quietly preferring her brother, for ignoring her needs, for pushing her to the side and expecting too much of her.
I secretly hope that this new baby is a girl. I want to start over with a little girl now that I’m healthy and an experienced parent. I want to love her and cherish her as she should be. And maybe…I can learn to love and parent a girl properly, and I can use this to change and parent my older daughter better, too. Maybe I can save us all before it’s too late.
I just keep hoping that I can be a better parent. That I haven’t ruined it yet. Because it’s not fair to love my son more…because my daughter is who she is and she needs my love, respect, and appreciation just as much as he does. Maybe more since she is so independent and willing to push people away. I hope I can give it to her, that I can be the mother that she and all my future children deserves.
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