Whenever a mother says to me that she doesn’t have a favourite child, I always wince and am flooded with feelings of guilt. I have two children – a daughter and a son – and my son is far and away my favourite. I suppose it’s because he’s my baby, the youngest and he wasn’t an “accident”. My daughter, on the other hand, was an “accident” – the child that almost wasn’t mine.
When I first found out I was pregnant with her, in the early months of 1999, I wasn’t in a place in my life where I could care for a child. I was single – not even in a relationship. I was in school and not employed. I smoked. I drank like a fish. I loved partying. So, I began the adoption process. I met with the family who would raise my daughter and began the mental and emotional process of giving up my baby.
But then she was born and I bonded with her. I held her and fed her and looked into her little face and I fell in love with her. I decided that I wanted to raise her myself. No, more than wanted – had to. I finished school, got a full-time job and went about the mental and emotional process of being a single, working mother.
When my daughter was almost a year old, I met the man who would soon become my husband. We got married when she was two, and her brother was born when she was almost four. Suddenly, my daughter was last on my list of priorities…and I feel like she’s stayed there ever since.
I think my son is my favourite because I’ve had time to bond with him properly. There was never a point when I had to gear up for losing him. Because of my husband’s job, we could afford for me to stay home with him for his first year of life and even now that he’s four, during the day, it’s me and him doing errands together, going to the zoo and museums together.
It could also be because my son is such an easy kid. He’s sweet, funny, helpful, and loving – basically my husband in Underoos and Garanimals. My daughter is antagonistic, argumentative, controlling and smart as a whip. In short, she’s my doppelganger. And that may be the most telling reason why my son is my favourite.
My New Year’s Resolution this year is to spend more time alone with my daughter. I try to spend an entire day with her once a week doing things she likes. We’ve been to the zoo, to a few local museums and to the movies together. I’m getting reacquainted with her and seeing that she, too, can be a sweet, loving, funny kid. But (and there’s always a but) she can be so horrendously mean to her little brother and it just sets me off again. I know I’m harder on her than I am on her brother and I try to justify it by saying she’s older and should know better. When it all boils down to the smallest parts, I know there’s no excuse for how I treat her. I’m hoping that by acknowledging this problem, I can fix it before it’s too late.