One of the best compliments a parent can receive is when all of their children think they are “the favorite.” When we raised our kids, it was definitely no easy task to send that signal to each of them. In fact, I’m pretty sure we didn’t always do it well. And let’s face it, most kids go through seasons where they make liking them nearly impossible!
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I have been thinking about the difficult task parents of multiple children have when attempting to instill in them that they are all equally loved and valued. Our kids remember that when they whined about our unfair treatment related to a sibling, we’d often say it was because “we like them better.” Most all parents understand that delicate balance of communicating the reality that fairness doesn’t always mean equal.
For several years (pre-Josh), I kept the following newspaper column on my fridge. This year I remembered it again and wanted to share the goodness. Because whether we have 3 kids or 13, a mama’s love is big enough to love them all the best …
To the First-born: I’ve always loved you best because you were our first miracle. You were the genesis of a marriage, the fulfillment of young love, the promise of our infinity.
You sustained us through the hamburger years. The first apartment furnished in Early Poverty … our first mode of transportation (1955 feet) … the 7-inch television set we paid on for 36 months.
You wore new, had unused grandparents and more clothes than a Barbie doll. You were the “original model” for unsure parents trying to work the bugs out. You got the strained lamb and three-hour naps.
You were the beginning.
To the Middle Child: I’ve always loved you the best because you drew a dumb spot in the family and it made you stronger.
You cried less, had more patience, wore faded, and never in your life did anything “first,” but it only made you more special. You are the one we relaxed with and realized a dog could kiss you and you wouldn’t get sick. You could cross a street by yourself long before you were old enough to get married, and the world wouldn’t come to an end if you went to bed with dirty feet.
You were the continuance.
To the Baby: I’ve always loved you the best because endings generally are sad and you are such a joy. You readily accepted the mild-stained bibs. The lower bunk. The cracked baseball bat. The baby book, barren but for a recipe for graham cracker pie crust that someone jammed between the pages.
You are the one we held onto so tightly. For you see, you are the link with the past that gives a reason for tomorrow. You darken our hair, quicken our steps, square our shoulders, restore our vision, and give us humor that security and maturity can’t give us.
When your hairline takes on the shape of Lake Erie and your children tower over you, you will still be “the Baby.”
You were the culmination.
To my seven “kids” (even the ones grafted in through marriage): I truly love you all THE BEST. Each one of you makes our family better in different ways.
It’s a wonderful joy to be a mama.