I think I have a favourite child – Am I a bad parent?
We all do it or even think it at some point or another. Of course, you would never say it out loud or let that child know but at one point in time you looked at both of your kids and said to yourself, “yep, that’s my boy” or “that’s daddy’s little girl”. Whether you knew it or not, you were picking a favourite so don’t get all judgemental! We’ve all been there and I want to tell you how having a “favourite child” changed my world.
I’ll never forget being in the NICU hours away from bringing our kids home for the first time and someone saying, something to the tune of “This one is more active and will take all of your attention. When that happens the other one (for all intents and purposes will be referred to as baby A – my “favourite child”) gets left out a lot of the time”. From that day I told myself I’d never let that happen. After all, these are my kids, my flesh and blood, I could never favour one and neglect the other. They’d both be getting my full, undivided attention.
Where it all went sideways
In the weeks and months to come, along with figuring out how to be a parent, balance sleep, chores, personal hygiene & marriage I unknowingly found myself tending to baby A more so than his brother. After all, if baby A was quiet it was often because his other half was crying too loudly for him to be heard. I remember thinking, I don’t want baby A to feel left out and I don’t want to give all my attention away. While everyone is tending to fussy baby B, I’ll make sure that Baby A (my “favourite child”) was getting the attention he needed. Still with me?
Day by day
This became the norm. Both babies would wake up, either in the middle of the night or from a nap and I would tend to baby A first. He’d get a diaper change, he’d get a bottle, he’d have a bath first, he’d get cuddled to sleep first.
I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. – Robert Munsch
This went on for months. Day in and day out, baby A would get my attention first. I didn’t want him feeling second rate, now did I? Now, I know what you’re thinking. And believe it or not I love both my kids equally and like any other parent would do ANYTHING for them. I’d still spend time with both of them. I still knew their individual quirks, needs and wants. I know what makes each one of them laugh and contrary to popular belief, twins have completely different personalities and I had to figure those out and how to tend to each of them separately. Even with all of this, there was this deep bond growing with baby A and I didn’t even know it. I thought I was just looking out for him and had no idea the harm I was potentially causing.
This went on for well over a year and one day, in particular, I realized what had happened and knew I had to do something about it. Thalita wasn’t home and I had put the boys down for a nap. For some reason baby A woke up earlier and didn’t have any interest in sleeping. I took him downstairs, sat on the couch and spent the next hour and a half, bouncing him on my lap, cuddling, singing to him, making him laugh, giving kisses and just enjoying our time together – a real bonding experience. Strangely enough, we’d never had that kind of one-on-one time together – I’d never had that one-on-one time with either of my kids.
It was weird only having to tend to one baby but I made the best of it. When his brother finally woke up, I brought him downstairs to join the party and we carried on with the day. I remember telling Thalita when she got home about the good time we had together and how cool it was to have one-on-one time with baby A. I couldn’t wait to have the chance to do the same with baby B. Until that is, I actually had the chance to do the same with baby B. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Let’s try this again
After that point, anytime they were together it’s like I would catch myself giving more attention to baby A. I’d feed him his spoon full first, clean him up first, make him laugh harder and make sure he was okay before tending to his brother. I hated it and was so aware of it and knew I had to do something about it. Thinking back, I’d never had the chance to spend that time with baby B and since birth, I had given the majority of my attention to his brother. I never wanted it to be this way but one day, the tables turned and baby B was the one who didn’t want to have a nap.
Upstairs I went to rescue him from his crib of wonders and brought him downstairs to the family room. I spent the next hour and a half bouncing him on my lap, cuddling, singing to him, trying to make him laugh and giving kisses. I was trying to build that same bond with him and it just wasn’t working. There I was, trying to build on my relationship with him based on the relationship I had with baby A.
One big difference
Remember when I said that twins have different personalities? Yeah. It’s not as easy as you might think. The same jokes didn’t work on him, he didn’t think it was funny when I blew on his stomach, he seemingly wasn’t ticklish at all and most certainly didn’t like being cuddled. I didn’t know what to do. My kids had only turned one year old and I felt like I was losing one of them. I messed up, hard!
After that, whenever they were together I would try and include baby B in on the games, like those kids on the playground that take pity on the new kid in school – he didn’t seem interested. He was always off doing his own thing while baby A and I laughed and bounced and played. It was tearing me up inside that each time he’d look at me and I didn’t know how to connect with him.
Here’s what I did about it
For the first year of their lives I had subconsciously tended to baby A first. I decided to remove myself and my feelings from the equation and look at them as simply, my kids, that both need their parents. That both need to eat. That both need their diapers changed 8-12 times a day. I had to remove from my mind the notion that Baby A “needed” me. Cause the truth is, he didn’t. I had coddled him and catered to his every need. I needed to look at both of these as equal.
At the time, that meant I would intentionally feed Baby B first and if Baby A (my fav) was crying, not rush to him right away. After all, he was okay, he always was. He didn’t “need” me. In the beginning, it took a lot of thought and I didn’t think I would ever get past it but little by little I broke out of the thought process that led me to think of them as separate, before or after, now or later.
I needed to intentionally spend time with both of them separately so that I could bond with each of them and form our own routines, jokes, quirks and other things that were unique to just us. Fast forward another year and it’s like the kids have chosen who they favour. Luca is totally in love with his mom and Jude can’t seem to go a minute without his “dada”. We’ve learned so much in these two years as parents and you can read about it here. In closing, I’ll say this: if you were trying to figure out who is who the whole time then you’ve missed the point of this blog post. I know who is who and it’s because I took the time to find out who they really are on the inside and that’s all that will ever matter.