Childrearing

Knowing I Wasn’t My Mom’s Favorite Kid Still Haunts Me

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By comparison, she often ascribed petty and malicious motives to my actions when nothing could have been further from the truth. I can remember more than one time when I was accused of trying get my brother and sister in trouble. To this day, I honestly have no idea how she got that idea. There was no animosity between my siblings and I; we got along remarkably well. But it was as if there was something about me that just rubbed her the wrong way.

This constant need to protect my siblings translated into how our successes and failures were viewed. To my mother, it seemed like I lived a charmed life. The teachers were nicer to me than they were to my siblings, the bullies were not as mean, and even my bosses were not as demanding. You would think that at some point I should have noticed that I was apparently walking around with a giant horse-shoe crammed up my rear. In her mind, I just never had it as hard as my siblings did.

I have heard many people say that parents sometimes love the ones that need them the most. I guess I can see that. If you have one child sailing through life and one who struggles every step of the way, it may be only natural to give the one that is struggling a little extra love and encouragement. But I think we all owe it to our children to take a step back and think about how our own feelings about our children change how we perceive them. When my brother and I failed at something, was it really because he had a horrible teacher, but that I was just lazy? When my mother cheered harder for my sister when we each won something, was it because my sister needed the confidence boost more than I did? Or was it because, for whatever reason, she identified with them more, and felt their failures and triumphs all the more keenly?

Maybe I somehow was lucky, and I just did not have to overcome as much as my brother and sister did growing up. Or maybe my mother saw herself in them and understood them better, so the smiles and the sympathy came just a little easier. Whatever the case, knowing that I was not my mother’s favorite has left its own scars. It may be perfectly natural to have favorites, but it is just as natural for a child to wonder what they did to make their parents like them just a little bit less than their sibling.

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