I Do Not Love You the Same

When I was a girl, my mother used to say “I love you all equally. There are five of you, just like I have five fingers. I could never choose a finger to chop off.” In an effort to avoid calling my mom a liar, I will assume she said it to diffuse a brawl, and make us feel equally special, because nothing says “I love you,” like a comparison to a hand appendage. Today, I call her bluff. We all know she loves JR the most. For the record, however, I am the fourth child, also known as the ring finger, where the diamond is.

I’ll be honest. I do not love my children in the same way, and I never will. While I suppose choosing a finger to chop would actually be pretty difficult, my ring finger is definitely my favorite. And since I do not yet have a fourth child, its still okay for me to say that as a mom. James, Josie and Rita each drive me crazy differently. They also have a particular way of using their tendency towards both virtue and vice to make my own vices even more obvious. For that, my soul will have eternal gratitude, while my face and hair become wrinkly and grey.

Dear James,

You are my firstborn. My first experience of motherhood. You have taught me how ridiculous I look when I cry, and how easily I fall to my husband’s use of reverse psychology. You and I have almost identical reactions: dramatic, extreme, but easily distracted by tickling or a joke. Today, I love you because you think driving on the road is a car race, and you are determined to put on your underpants by yourself, even if they are inside out and backwards. You want a very particular car from the Easter bunny. To ensure receiving it, you’ve been telling me that it would make Rita so happy as a baby. Even in your manipulation, you are totally transparent. You already know the words to the Hail Mary, and you constantly remind me to say thank you to your guardian angel. Judging by the fact that you’ve had some type of scrape on your face since birth, God knows, you need the extra protection. Your favorite song is Susie Q by CCR, you love of Mumford and Sons and Sam Cooke, and already know that popular R&B, Kei$ha, and Nickleback is the worst music ever created. You say “Damn it!” only when its appropriate.

Dear Josie,

When Daddy puts the “How to speak Mandarin Chinese” Cd in the car, you repeat all of the words. And then you giggle, because you know that a one year old American girl speaking Chinese is hilarious. Your reckless abandon freedom and independence is totally foreign to my own behavior. Witnessing it develop in you has been one of the greatest gifts of my entire life, and it continues to teach me how much God loves me and desires to make me happy. You already jump out of your crib, but, you do it capably and skillfully, so I never worry. Your mood tends to correspond with the messiness of your hair, so you’ve made me a lot more diligent in braiding it. You call my bluff on all forms of discipline, and its funny when I send you to time-out. You prance has a particular confidence, because you know your Daddy loves you with all of his heart, and you milk it with impressive skill. You understand his weirdness instinctively. You eat the most out of anyone in the family. Everyone knows when you are full because thats when you start throwing your food. You know exactly how to annoy your brother, and you smile, because we both know, he deserves it.

Dear Rita,

You are five months old, and can do no wrong, even when you beg to nurse at 3am. Your calmness makes the entire family more peaceful. You are able to make your brother laugh harder than anyone in the family. You are pretty much always quiet, until we walk up to Communion. That’s the time you choose to show off, or maybe you are just really excited to see Jesus. I’m not sure. You let Josie shove spoons in your mouth because you know she likes to feed you baby food, and that I do not. You constantly throw up. Its gross, and it smells. You are almost crawling. Five months is pretty early to crawl. I’d want to get away too, it can be scary and super dirty on our floors. I never knew how much I could want a baby that I never wanted to have. Thank you for teaching me that God’s plan are always the best ones.

I love you all, but, not the same. And I am particularly grateful I gave birth after the invention of baby wipes.

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