Yeah, he’s my favorite.

For whatever reason, lately I’ve been getting accused by both of my kids that the other one is my favorite.

Yesterday, 9-year-old Michael was closely examining the photos on our refrigerator, and told me that there are WAY many more of his older brother, so I must love him more. So, I counted — five photos of my boys together, two photos of Michael, three of Matthew, and one of our whole family together.

Drat. So, not WAY more, but still one extra photo of Matthew, and I guess that makes Michael right. About the photos anyway.

Another reason one kid might think I like the other one better? Because that’s what I tell them. No, not in a serious way — it’s just my answer to certain questions – like ‘why does he get to stay up later?,’ ‘why does he get more ice cream?,’ or ‘why does he have another pair of sneakers?’ My answer: “Because I love him more.”

I think most parents would be lying if we said that on occasion, we didn’t temporarily favor one child over the other. Like when I’ve cooked something new for dinner; one child is happily scarfing it down while the other is complaining and asking for something else? I’m sorry, but for that moment, the eating child is my favorite. Or when one is yelling about homework while the other is just doing his? Homework kid is my favorite.

As much as I always wanted to be a mom, on some level, I always worried that I wasn’t going to be able to love a child the way I was “supposed to.” When Matthew was born, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. I couldn’t believe how much I could love this little creature who did little more than cry and spit up on me. And it just got better as he started turning into an actual little person.

A few years later, Dave and I started talking about having another baby, and again I was fearful – I couldn’t imagine it was possible to love another child as much as I loved Matthew. But then there we were, parents of two boys, and then my fears seemed ridiculous. It was indeed possible to love two children.

boys and mom

And here I am now, just about 10 years into being the mom of these two amazing boys. Do I love the both the same? Nope. I love them the same AMOUNT, but I love them differently.

I love Michael’s seemingly random (but overwhelming) enthusiasm for TV shows we love to watch together – The Amazing Race, Donut Showdown and Carnival Eats. I love that he can play basketball for hours. Even by himself.

I love that Matthew tolerates my piano playing and if I play the right song, will come sing with me. I love that he seems to know the words to every song he’s ever heard, and that he’d sing endlessly in the shower if we let him. I love that at the same time, there’s room in his brain with all of those song lyrics for massive amounts of sports trivia.

I love that Matthew willingly helps Michael with 4th grade math homework that I’m already too mathematically challenged to understand. I love that Michael will defend his brother against any wrong the world throws his way, even though he’s almost four years younger and half his size (a few years ago, I accidentally closed Matthew’s hand in a door in our house; as I leaned over Matthew writhing in pain on the floor, Michael began punching me in the back for hurting his brother).

So, yeah, I guess they’re both my favorite.


Mother of the Year … not.

I had one of those great days today.  I slept really well last night.  I don’t work on Mondays, and today I got a LOT done while the kids were at school.  I was feeling relaxed and happy with myself.

Until the kids got home.

Michael had a friend over.  For two hours, things were great – they were playing outside, making a lot of noise and having fun.  Apparently, just before the friend was picked up (according to Michael, anyway), there was some sort of illegal move perpetrated on Michael in their soccer game, which left Michael with a dirty and bruised knee.  Since Michael didn’t have a yellow card in his pocket, he decided to throw a punch instead.  Ugh.

When his friend went home, I left Michael at home, doing homework and whimpering, so I could pick Matthew up around the corner at a friend’s house.  I was delighted to find that he’d already started walking home, as I’d asked him to.  “How was your day?” “Good! I don’t have much homework.  What’s for dinner?”

And that’s where it started going downhill, when he discovered that I’d made stuffed shells and didn’t keep any sauce-free for him.  Worst. Mom. Ever.

mother of the year

We came in the house, and Michael was still upset over the incident with his friend.  Oh, and perhaps I should mention that when the friend left, I had had the audacity to ask him to retrieve his shoes from our backyard and bring them inside when he came in.  For which I was labeled “mean.”

Matthew joined his brother at the table to get started on homework.  And when he put a binder down, it generated a breeze that blew away the organized rows of little pieces of paper with Michael’s spelling words on them.  Michael burst into tears and then headed toward Matthew to try and throw his second punch of the hour.  I grabbed his arm before he could hit, and pulled him upstairs to his bedroom, crying.  Him, not me.  Yet, anyway.

I left Michael in his room, came back downstairs and asked Matthew to help me pick up Michael’s spelling words.  When my request was met with some, um, let’s say, resistance, I kind of , let’s say, lost my patience.  I believe there may or may not have been some yelling.

After everyone had a few minutes to calm down, I apologized to both boys for losing my cool.  Because as little tolerance as I have for my kids’ poor behavior, I have even less  tolerance for my own poor behavior.  When I look at it objectively, I think I have pretty unrealistic expectations for my own behavior as a parent.  Because, as it turns out, I’m just as human as my kids are.