Is it possible to love your children equally – but like one better than the other?
Before Reid came along, our whole lives revolved around Ryder. Pictures were taken, milestones were recorded, and we endeavored to fulfill every want, whim and desire. And Ryder lapped it up; as a first child (and an Alpha Male), he pushed our limits of patience, sobriety and tolerance – but never love. There was always too much love to give – an obsessive, all encompassing love for our only child.
In fact, so powerful was his hold over me that, consumed with our daily adventures, I missed the early signs of my second pregnancy. But a tiny little miracle was growing inside of me; a beautiful little boy.
I’d been drinking. Not taking pre-natal vitamins. Jumping off park benches with Ryder. It hit me. I was going to have another baby. So I did my best to play catch up; I cleaned up my act and started acting like a pregnant woman. But all through my pregnancy, I was still consumed with Ryder.
“Is the baby kicking?” my OB asked late in my pregnancy.
“Um, yeah,” I responded. I was too embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t even bothered to do a kick count.
I began obsessing that I would never love our second baby as much as I loved Ryder. How could I? For two whole years, my world revolved around him. Where in my heart could I find the room to love another as deeply? I was prepared to feel love for Reid, hoping against hope that it would measure up to the obsession I felt for his older sibling.
And then Reid arrived. And my heart literally burst open. This tiny, lovely little being who looked at me with eyes full of wonder and adoration. I cried out in relief; all that time worrying that I wouldn’t have enough love to give, and here I was, falling all over again. I understood why my mom never declared favourites; I identified with every mom who ever said she couldn’t choose. With excitement and profound peace, I realized that I loved my two sons equally.
I did it! I was a good mother!
Reid needed me. I nourished him, held him close. Ryder needed me less; happy to watch TV or play with his trucks, he loped in for the occasional hug or kiss good night. The balance of attention was temporarily skewed, but my affections were nonetheless level.
And then Ryder entered his two’s. And he became TERRIBLE. And now I realize, after much self-loathing, that although I love Ryder to pieces, I like Reid more.
Reid doesn’t throw tantrums. He doesn’t talk back. He eats what I give him, goes to sleep at a convenient time and certainly doesn’t drop the F-bomb during Christmas dinner. Ryder challenges me on absolutely everything. Nothing comes easy; every request is met with defiance. He pushes my buttons. He pulls at my emotions. And the little sh*t just kicked my leg because I wouldn’t let him watch YouTube.
Like a pendulum, I can feel my emotions swing back and forth. What happened?
How in the world did I go from adoring Ryder to wanting to lock him up? Where is that unconditional adoration for my “perfect” first born? I think back to when he was younger and try to resurrect those feelings of patience and tolerance. Before I screamed at him, threatened him and shook my fist at him in disbelief.
And then I look at Reid – peaceful, happy, agreeable. It’s no wonder our relationship is so easy; he’s a chilled, content dude, just like his father (as opposed to his fiery, argumentative sibling who takes after…). But will he too turn terrible? Will I be singing the same tune with him in 2 years? Why is parenting so difficult?
I know with all my heart that my two boys are my life, my reason. I hate feeling that I’m “favouring” one in any way. Yet I am certain, without a doubt, that my relationship with Ryder has changed. But whenever I ask around, I’m confronted with “Oh no! I love them all the same! How could you suggest otherwise?”
Well, I do love them equally – but is it horrible that, for the moment, I like one better?