You would presume that my children are at a point in their lives where comparisons and finger-pointing are a thing of their spoiled-brat pasts. But, no. They’re still at it. At ages 20, 23 and 27, the hierarchy of perceived favoritism still exists. And this occurs loudly, on every rare occasion they’re all together, even funerals.
It’s almost always the two older ones who consistently accuse me of favoring their younger brother. Their common refrain of, “You’re always are on his side. Always. Patrick is the prince of this family,” is, ironically, the only time those two agree on anything.
“Oh, please” I dismiss them; “You all think each other is my favorite. Every day, apparently, I shine the light brighter on one of you than the other. You all spew accusations of favoritism and nepotism like you were talking about the White House and not your own family. It’s ridiculous.”
My daughter demanded: “Oh, really, Maria? Then, how do you explain this?” She exhibited a fat packet of photos I’d recently printed. She laid them on the table like she was dealing blackjack, but instead of kings, queens and jacks, she displayed the following: Madeline at her wedding, Nicholas sitting and doing nothing, then, the Patrick Chronicles: Patrick in his truck, Patrick on the phone, Patrick watching TV, Patrick thinking, Patrick and the dogs, Patrick eating a cookie, Patrick waving, Patrick staring.
Well, this was embarrassing.
“Kids … I keep telling you, I do not have favorites … unless your name is Tito or Chianti. Or, sometimes, Smirnoff. Actually, mostly Smirnoff. My love is never divided. It is multiplied.”
“Mom. That’s what they say on that ‘Sister Wives’ show. I’m pretty sure you aren’t talking about the same kind of love.” She then went to find her older brother to investigate available rooms at a nearby nursing home. “Room with a view!” I screamed after them.
Now, mothers, you know we don’t love one more than the other, right? That would be wrong. I’ll admit, I do favor one dog over the other, which feels bad enough, but never a child. However, they all offer something different to the chromosomal mix, and if pressed, I’d have to admit I relate to diverse personality traits of each on different levels.
My youngest son, sadly, shares my fluency of sarcasm — our second language. And, he is the epitome of “still waters run deep.” He isn’t a big talker, but when he does say something, it’s important. He makes me laugh daily. (Except for that old Senior Week incident. That didn’t make me laugh). He is, simply put, easy and hard to ruffle. And I appreciate that.
My older son shares my laid-back and easy-going nature. Okay, well, that’s a bold-faced lie. I am neither easy-going nor laid back. I guess he shares that with Nancy (eye roll). But, we both share a disgust of intolerance, bullying or bigotry of any type, and the child has enormous integrity. He is also hilarious. And he has fine-tuned the ability to fib without so much as a nose twitch. And I appreciate that.
And my daughter? Well, she’s a girl, like me, so we have that in common, and we both love the same things in so many departments except for those involving my unsolicited opinion on anything. Our connection strengthens as she ages but still depends largely on the pull of the moon and the barometric pressure. Do I share more with her? Yes, because we can always dish about hormones, ovulation, waxing and all things “Real Housewives.” And I appreciate that.
What our kids don’t know is that we mothers take a vow when their heads crown and sign a contract in the sky promising to love every child equally and without reservations, ever. We love the first one as much as the last one — no more, no less. Just right. And they love me back. Just right.
And I appreciate that.
Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.