Julie and I are very different from each other in some ways, and very much alike in others. Since having my own children, I have noticed how incredibly different two children from the same parents can be. Shoot, my first two kids could be the test group for a case study on this very subject matter. They are exact opposites. In just about every way. Ben is very serious, task-oriented, and literal (think Amelia Bedelia). Abby is very fanciful, spirited, and energetic. Ben likes to stay home. Abby likes to go...anywhere - "Kroger again? Sure! Wait for me!". Ben can sit and concentrate on small, menial, boring tasks for hours on end. Abby has other things to do and can't be bothered with things like coloring or flashcards. When Ben tells stories, he gets bogged down in details. When Abby tells stories, you can almost physically see her brain take a turn when it starts to get a little drab and she starts to color it with her imagination.
They're just different from each other.
And yet, equally precious.
(I do have a third child, but her personality is just blooming, it's not that I am discounting her or playing favorites to my two eldest. The comparison between Ben & Abby is just for illustrative purposes. This concludes my disclaimer for this post.)
The subject of favoritism came up yesterday at church, and has actually come up several times in the past few weeks. You see, it's a pattern, and it's obvious even in the Bible. Isaac and Rebekah played favorites to their two boys, Esau and Jacob, respectively. Maybe because of that, Jacob thought it was only natural to show favoritism towards your kids, and clearly favored Joseph above all of his other brothers. Whether we like it or not, we "inherit" these behaviors from our parents. They are the only model we have to emulate. Or, the most prominent one, at least. This doesn't mean patterns can't be broken, but it does take a conscious effort not to fall into these conditioned traits.
I will admit that when I got pregnant with Abby, I was simultaneously elated and terrified. My primary concern throughout that pregnancy was - "How can I possibly love another child as much as I love Ben?" I just didn't think it could be done. Some people tried to reassure me that I'd be fine. Just wait and see. But being the eternal pessimist and guilt-ridden type, I already felt guilty for falling short as a mother before little Abby was even born.
And then, one day, she arrived. And it was an experience so unlike having Ben. I knew what to expect. I already knew I was a mother. I didn't have to go through the "whoa whoa, I have to take this home with me?!" emotions. And instead, I just enjoyed her. The beautiful blond-haired little girl in my arms had stolen my heart. All of it.
And here's where I throw out a cliché, because it was the most beautifully appropriate thing I'd ever heard up to that point in my life. And I can't tell you how many women I've relayed it to that were experiencing the same fear as I was. (Of course, there's simply no believing it until you experience it, in my opinion.)
A Mother's Love Does Not Divide. It Multiplies.
So wait, how is that even applicable to favoritism, you ask?
Maybe it's not. But I assumed Ben would always be my favorite, even though I didn't desire for that to be how it played out. I never imagined a little girl could come along and steal my whole heart so completely as well. I'm happy to report I was wrong.
While I'm not perfect by any means (and neither are my kids), I think I do a bang-up job of being fair and loving my kids equally. There might be some days where it doesn't go the way I wish it did, but it's not a constant struggle like I imagined it would be. I think I owe this to my parents for exemplifying impartiality. I also, once again, like to think of it as one of God's little tricks on us. It's a tiny glimpse into his complete, impartial love for us, each one of us - regardless of how strikingly different we all are.
I'll put it like this - In the winter, I love my heater. It's my favorite. Come summertime, I love my air conditioning. It's my favorite.
They are completely different, I love them completely. And, yes, they are my favorites, for the purposes for which they were intended.
And that is how I feel about my three crazy and precious children -
And maybe it sounds overly-diplomatic and hokey, but the truth is ~
They are all my favorite.