Most moms of two children cannot imagine a worse movie than Sophie's Choice. For those not familiar with it, this is the gist: beautiful Polish woman is forced by the Nazis to choose which child lives and which child dies. That choice ruins her life.
The scene is chilling, haunting, something one should only watch when they're well prepared and have a serious box of tissues handy. It will gut you. But maybe not every mother of two. Babble blogger Kate said (in not so many words) that for her, the choice is made. In the controversial essay that is making waves on the Internet, she admits to liking her son better than her daughter. She says:
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.
Wow. For obvious reasons, people have been appalled.
As a fellow writer, I'm not comfortable taking Kate to task. I admire brave and honest writing even when I vehemently disagree with it. In this case, I think it's extra dangerous because I'm not sure she will always feel this way.
Currently, she says her daughter is 3 -- a tough age by any standards -- and her son is 20 months. I happen to believe that there is an age boys hit, right between 18 months and 28 months, when they're the single cutest thing on the planet. When my son was that age, I wanted to bathe in him. I used to want to go wake him up at night to bask in his cuteness just a little longer. Needless to say, that age passed. They all do. My daughter was a difficult 3, but she's turning into a delightful 4, while my son becomes more and more difficult.
This is all a long way of saying when your kids are that little, you don't know them well enough to make such a public declaration over who you love the best. If you had asked me last year at this time, in my deepest, darkest place, I may have agreed with Kate. But now, I feel the opposite. Loving one child more is probably normal. And it's also normal for it to switch and switch back. In the end, once they're all raised up, the hope is that it all equals out. And my guess is it will.
As for Kate, she is, predictably, being attacked. It isn't surprising. The majority of us aren't comfortable with such honesty. We worry about her daughter's feelings when she grows and we wonder how any mom could say such a thing. But I kind of get it. Maybe not the need to confess in such a public forum, but I do get the need to confess it, to assure oneself that others feel the same and we aren't alone in our shameful thoughts.
I remember running with a friend last year and telling her that I liked my son better (at that time), and she seemed a little shocked. What I didn't tell her, now five months later, is that my daughter is my favorite right now. And tomorrow? Who knows. I think I love them the same, but sometimes I like one better than the other. Sometimes one is easier and the other is driving me crazy. It doesn't make one a bad mom to admit that.
In her follow-up essay, she explains why she wrote the piece:
So, I’m not a perfect mom. I never will be. It is my hope that in confessing my failings, as well as constantly evaluating them and striving to do better, that I can be the best mom that I can be. To all my children.
Maybe she wrote the piece to assure others that they aren't alone. The best writing offends some, but the ones who it helps usually matter more. I chose never to write about my feelings when I had them because I never wanted my daughter to read them, but also because I knew they would change over time. And lo and behold, they have. I hope that if Kate's daughter ever reads the piece, she will be able to understand that, too.
Do you like one child better?