One of the most difficult questions my children ever asked centred around who is my favourite daughter. Not because they asked the question, but making sure I had the right answer so they wouldn’t turn into green monsters or worse yet, be scarred for life.
How do you answer that loaded question: “Who do you love more, me or her (or him)?” I heard that question in various ways from each of my three daughters as they were growing up and recently in a roundabout way from my two granddaughters.
I had seven siblings and we never, ever asked that question to our mother (everyone knew, of course, that I was the favourite – just kidding). If it did occur to us, we never spoke of it until we were grown-ups and teased Mom at family gatherings or when we were kidding each other.
I remember being so concerned about how I answered that question I spent hours researching the topic when it first came up.
“I need some time to think about what you asked me,” I recall saying. At some level I knew that flat-out denying I had a favourite would not be accepted and I didn’t want to get into a defensive argument with one of my daughters. She appeared to have an earnest need for an intellectual and not an emotional answer.
My daughter sent me an article that she had read, which clearly supported her stance that parents do indeed have favourites and she was adamant to know who was mine.
Somehow I managed to put together a very logical argument that some parents may have favourites, but that was not necessarily a permanent trend. I myself may have shown favouritism amongst the three of them at varying times over the years, but it was not consistent, permanent, nor unusual or unhealthy.
I have three daughters with very different personalities. Each of my daughters has qualities I admire and respect and some qualities I find annoying. The annoying qualities are the ones they inherited from me.
There have been times when I favoured a particular daughter because the other two were going through puberty or relationship issues and driving me crazy, while the third daughter was sweet and kind and listened really well.
Other times, I may have favoured the middle child because she was more responsible, accommodating and accepting of limits and curfews, while the youngest one was rebellious and whinny and the oldest was too stubborn and aloof.
And yet other times I may have favoured the oldest daughter because she was past the stages of rebellion, puberty, teenage angst and whining, and somewhere along the way to adulthood, she realized “Mother was right after all.”
Now it’s interesting to watch my oldest daughter mother her two daughters.
They have never asked me the question, “who is my favourite granddaughter,” but I know it’s coming.
Truthfully, I want to ask them back “who is your favourite grandmother,” but I would not put those sweet girls in such a position. Their other grandmother is also named Patricia and she is wonderful. My granddaughters spend more time with her because she is retired and they live close to her.
But I have a pool and in the summer, I see more of my granddaughters because we share a passion for swimming. Sometimes I think that makes me the summer favourite.
Not that it really matters to me. But it’s nice to believe that sometimes I am the favourite. I guess we all have a need to feel special every now and then.