I was accused yesterday, as I issued orders to my 3 children to clean their rooms and emphatically praised the one who did just that with gusto, of having a favorite child. And it reminded me of the following essay, and if you haven't read it before today, grab a cup of coffee and have a seat. Bring a tissue.
Every mother has a favorite child. She cannot help it. She is only human. I have mine – the child for whom I feel a special closeness, with whom I share a love that no one else could possibly understand.
My favorite child is the one who was too sick to eat ice cream at his birthday party – who had measles at Christmas – who wore leg braces to bed because he toed in – who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack, the child in my arms at the emergency ward.
My favorite child spent Christmas alone away from the family, was stranded after the game with a gas tank on E, lost the money for his class ring.
My favorite child is the one who messed up at the piano recital, misspelled committee in a spelling bee, ran the wrong way with the football, and had his bike stolen because he was careless.
My favorite child is the one I punished for lying, grounded for insensitivity to other people’s feelings, and informed he was a royal pain to the entire family.
My favorite child slammed the doors in frustration, cried when she didn’t think I saw her, withdrew and said she could not talk to me.
My favorite child always needed a haircut, had hair that wouldn’t curl, had no date for Saturday night, and a car that cost $600 to fix. My favorite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered, and self-centered. He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in the world, and quite wonderful.
All mothers have their favorite child. It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment. Who needs you for whatever reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse charges to, to unload on – but mostly just to be there.