My Favorite Child
Boy: Mama! I went POTTY!
Me: (with the exuberance of a potty-training, exhausted mom, who was freaking thrilled at this development) Wow! That’s fantastic! Way to go! I am SO PROUD OF YOU!
Girl: You love him more than me. Why aren’t you proud of me? *heart breaks*
Me: Of course I’m proud of you. You are awesome. It’s just that when you are small like your brother, little things like going potty are really, really hard. I say that I am proud of him, because I know how hard he worked to do it and that’s amazing. I love you both equally. I am proud of you in so many ways. Let me tell you…
And I am. My kids amaze me every day. I am so proud of them both.
My daughter is my favorite. I am so proud of her. I remember the day I found out I was having a girl. My heart swelled with joy at the idea of raising a girl into a woman. Holding her in my arms, so small and new. Watching her pull herself up to standing and run into the world with the exuberance of a child who knew no fear. Watching her grow into an amazing person. So different from me, but with many of my traits reflected back. Mostly those that will make her an amazing person – independence, confidence, push back, sarcasm (she’s definitely my child). Watching her learn about the world and feel joy, curiosity, hurt, loss, and fear. Hurting when she started becoming tentative, to care about inputs and the reactions of others. Learning self-consciousness.
Wanting to shelter her, but to also give her space to be, to grow, to become herself. Watching her weather the storm of her young life. Being with her as our family changed, as she changed. Watching her start school and her intellect grow. Hearing about the subjects she loves and that fill her with excitement and joy. Lately, anything science-related – volcanoes, plants, lightening, the circulatory system – seems to delight and intrigue her. It makes my heart swell with pride. And her perfect scores on every spelling test in Kindergarten (they have spelling tests in Kindergarten!?!). And the unexpected things. I begrudgingly signed her up for soccer. I am not into team sports at all, but she really wanted to try it. Watching her make her first goal and look to me on the sidelines with joy and gauging my reaction. Watching her huge smile as I cheered her on. All the feels. She will do great things. She is doing great things. I carried her and nurtured her. Laugh with her. Swing her in circles. Hold her when she cries. I am so proud of her and the young woman she is becoming. I need to tell her this more.
And my son. He’s my favorite, too. He came into this world traumatically, and he may never know that his existence probably saved my life. He will only have memories of our life together as a single parent family. I am so proud of him. He’s so sensitive and caring. A gentle person. He tests the boundaries of his young existence, but always apologizes for any hurt, real or imagined. I try to hide any emotion on my face, because if he senses sadness, he is so quick with a hug and an emphatic “I’m sorry mama,” before I can say – “that’s okay.” He gives love so freely, surpassing my own ability to show affection some days. Empathy, love and affection are his language. He is just learning how to exist in his own skin, the boundaries of his small world. His abilities. He hasn’t yet learned manipulation or fear. I literally fear for his safety on the playground and have to stand near to prevent him from stepping off the edge. I have always been there to catch him, and he doesn’t recognize the risk.
His favorite thing in the world is basketball. I hate basketball. But, I love him so much that we spend Saturday mornings in the gym letting him run around holding onto one, while I play H-O-R-S-E with his sister very poorly. When I brought home his own basketball the other day, his small voice squealed with joy – BASKETBALL!. I will never forget that moment. He’s a big kid. I wonder sometimes if he’ll want to do sports and how I might navigate my own emotions around that. I feel responsible for making sure that he knows that being a boy and a man is not synonymous with being cruel or hyper-masculine. How will I teach him this? Fuck. Fortunately, we have a few years for me to figure that out.
When I was pregnant with my son, another mom told me that when you have more than one child you have less love to give each subsequent one who joins the world. She used the analogy of a pie with a limited number of pieces – only so much love to go around. It made sense at the time to my logic, but I have since learned something completely illogical and wonderful – the pie grows when you have a second child. Your capacity for love grows. You can’t always be in two different places at once or hold or love two kids in the same way, but you have the amazing opportunity to grow and learn how to love them both. You don’t always get it right, but you figure it out. You also get to teach two humans about love and loving each other. About sisterhood and brotherhood and the special bond that exists between siblings.
I am so proud of both of them. And I want to tell them every day. There are some days when I like one of them more. Usually the days when one of them needs me to love them more and shows me in the most frustrating way. But, while they are very different and show me their love and needs in different ways, I love the them both the best.
My kids are my favorite people on this planet. They are my happy place and my greatest frustration, joy, and fear. They are my world. My favorites.
Image credits: Steph, all rights reserved.