A few days ago, my friend called to vent about her mother. She said that all her life, she has struggled to do right in her mother's eyes, and no matter what she does, it's never good enough. On the other hand, she said, her sister has always been the perfect one who can do no wrong, the one their mother adores. The favorite.
I remember having similar feelings when I was growing up. Our parents never said that they had favorites, but I think my sister and brother and I all thought we sensed something that drew our parents to one of us more than the others. My sister, who is about two and a half years younger than I am, has asserted for many years that I am our dad's favorite, our brother is our mom's favorite, and she is...there. According to her, her only purpose in being born was to serve as a playmate for me. (Although it certainly wasn't our parents' intention that she feel this way, she is partially correct. Our brother is thirteen years older than I am, and our parents always felt that he should have had a sibling close in age as a playmate and confidant. When I was born all those years later, they decided that they would have another baby so that I would never feel alone, like our brother did. This is why my sister feels that she was born only to make sure I was never lonely. But that's only part of the story. The part that she forgets is that our parents never would have tried to conceive her if they didn't want her.)
My sister is correct on her other point, however: growing up, I did feel like my dad's favorite a lot of the time. He would let me get away with things that my mom never would. I don't know that I was his favorite, however. I know that my dad was excited when I was born because he had wanted a daughter, so in that sense, I might have been his favorite, but my mom and I, although we had a few volatile years when I was a teenager, are also close and have been ever since I left those turbulent years. Yet if anyone had asked me when I was a kid if my parents had favorites, I would have answered that they did.
Now that I'm a mother, however, my perspective has changed. I realize that as much as it seemed as though my parents had favorites, I know now that they didn't. Motherhood has taught me that parents do love their kids equally. Although children are different in so many respects, the love parents have for their kids is exactly the same. Now, there are times when I might like one of my kids more than the other: when one is being an angel and the other is acting up or when one sits quietly and the other screams because she didn't get her way and then cries until she vomits all over me, for example. But through it all, no matter what challenges they give me, no matter what they do or say, the love I have for them is the same.