Oh, dear. When one mom wrote a post explaining that she loves her son more than his older sister, she must have known it would provoke strong reactions. It did.
The writer, Kate, had a difficult time after her daughter was born and, because of ensuing illnes and hospitalization, didn't bond with her initially. She had no such difficulties with her son. Meanwhile, the little boy is a cuddly, sunny, affectionate baby. Her 3-year-old, meanwhile, is "a very independent, challenging little girl. She wants things her way, all the time. And she acts out a lot by being extremely rude and defiant when she's unhappy. Okay, so, she's me. I know that. It doesn't make it any easier."
It is not uncommon to bond with one child more than another; it's probably natural, and often inevitable, especially in circumstances like these. It's also often the case that a mother will find it easier going with a son, and vice versa — I know this was true in my own family. And we as women are hard on each other: it doesn't seem like a coincidence that she recognizes qualities in her daughter that she condemns in herself.
No one is judging her feelings — if only because feelings are what they are. And I'm sure it's liberating to many women to read that they're not alone in finding one child an easier fit than another; mothers are only human. Then too, the author seems to be genuinely troubled by her feelings and really want to change.
I'd never judge her emotions. But it's hard not to question making some of them public. For instance, when she writes that,
There are moments – in my least sane and darkest thoughts – when I think it wouldn't be so bad if I lost my daughter, as long as I never had to lose my son (assuming crazy, dire, insane circumstances that would never actually occur in real life). I know that sounds completely awful and truly crazy.
While her self-excoriation is obvious, the thought of her little girl ever coming upon this is truly painful. It doesn't sound crazy, but it does feel gratuitous. However, the piece feels like a confession, an unburdening, and at times it feels like the writing was cathartic for the author.
I know that if I don't do something about this, and try to get over my weird hang ups and actually be the parent, that she will grow up to accuse me of these things: "Why were you so tough on me? Why were you so impatient? Why didn't you hold me and love me like you did him?" And I could answer in a thousand ways…because he wanted me to hold him more, because he is more sensitive, because he is younger…because he needed me more…. It's not good enough. Because she would be right, and I would have nothing that I could say. I completely accept that the worst of her behavior (which is thankfully not too often) is entirely my fault. It's my fault for quietly preferring her brother, for ignoring her needs, for pushing her to the side and expecting too much of her. I secretly hope that this new baby is a girl. I want to start over with a little girl now that I'm healthy and an experienced parent. I want to love her and cherish her as she should be. And maybe…I can learn to love and parent a girl properly, and I can use this to change and parent my older daughter better, too. Maybe I can save us all before it's too late.
For her sake, I hope so. For everyone's, this is one case where I hope a piece won't live forever in cyberspace.