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I Don’t Feel Guilty for Having a Favorite Child

favoritechildI’ve never been one of those women who wanted a ton of kids. I actually think I probably would’ve been pretty content with just one, but my husband and I always knew that we wanted another, a sibling for our daughter. So, when she was nearly two years old, we went for it.

I don’t particularly love being pregnant in general, but being pregnant with a toddler around? Well, it’s exhausting to say the least. The majority of my pregnancy felt like a bit of a blur as I rarely had time to pause and think about the little person growing inside of me (some days I seriously forgot I was pregnant). On the rare occasion that I did stop to ponder the little boy who would soon be joining our family, I found myself feeling a bit ambivalent about his arrival. I wondered often if my heart would possibly be able to expand and find room to love another child as much as I loved my daughter.

I took these questions “to the street” as they say in the form of blog posts and social media polls and the consensus from other mothers was that despite having these same fears themselves, their hearts did indeed find more room to love another child. I was able to breathe a small sigh of relief when a few months later I found out that indeed they were right. My heart did make room and I did fall in love with my little boy. But still, it was … different. Despite the immense love I have for both of my children, I couldn’t help but feel like the bond with my daughter, my firstborn, was different, stronger.

One night a little while back, after the kids were in bed, I sheepishly admitted to my husband that, 7 months in,  I still felt like our daughter was my favorite. I felt incredibly guilty about it, but his response surprised me. He said that it was only natural to feel that way right now and as we talked it out, I began to realize how true it was. I had two-and-a-half, distraction-free, years to get to know my daughter and bond with just her. I cried with her as we figured out nursing and sleep deprivation, laughed with her as she developed a quirky little personality, and she was pretty much my little sidekick for two years. We experienced so many firsts and had so many adventures and made so many memories together. She is the one who made me a mama and there will always be something about that bond that is fiercely strong.

With my son … well, it’s only been 7 months and I’m really still just getting to know him. Besides which, the times that we do get to spend together are fraught with toddler interruptions and drama. The stress of trying to meet a baby’s basic needs while also appeasing a three-year-old isn’t exactly the most conducive for bonding. I’m also not really a “baby person,” which probably doesn’t help the situation. Cute as they are, they sort of overwhelm me and the baby stage wasn’t really my favorite with my daughter either. I much prefer when kids start communicating. I adore my son, but during this stage I just haven’t developed as deep of a bond with him yet and I think that’s OK, natural even. Because I know we’ll get there.

As the years go on, I’m sure the “favorite child status” will ebb and flow and even though I will love them both with a massive love that only a mother can give, I will probably connect with both of them in different ways. Over the years we will share different interests and go through different challenges and different stages and each will bring different connections. Sometimes my son might be my favorite, and sometimes my daughter will be. My own parents admitted that I definitely wasn’t the favorite during my tumultuous early teenage years (so much drama!). I think it’s normal and I’m not going to feel guilty about it anymore — despite the fact that having favorites totally taboo in the parenting world.

So let me be clear: I love both my kids equally. But I will probably always enjoy them each a bit differently and I’ll probably always have a (slight) favorite … one way or the other.

Image courtesy of ThinkStock

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