Monday, March 21, 2011

Let’s talk favorites

In the past week or so the Twittersphere and Mommyblog world has been all a twitter about an article on in which a Mom posted that she thought she maybe loved her son more than her daughter. The backlash was huge and the author herself posted an explanatory post the next day. I read her explanatory post first, and a couple other Mommy blogs with responses, and then finally the original article, as well as the comments.

I’m not going to debate whether or not she should have written the article, the merits of everyone’s comments, or the other blog posts it inspired. I think it may have already been talked, posted, or commented to death by now.

However, the situation prompted a very interesting conversation between me and my 14-year-old daughter. First, I had to describe the post and explain the “Sophie’s Choice” reference. That in and of itself was a worthy conversation. While Lotte had already seen “Schindler’s List” in school, that particular horror of the Holocaust was unknown to her and led to a different layer of discussion. Not that I relish discussing those types of horrors with my daughter, I did appreciate the opening to reaffirm how important it is to live with love and not hate.

Once the Sophie’s Choice reference had been explained, I marveled at the continuing conversation that we had, regarding motherhood and guilt and expectations. I asked her what her thoughts of the whole thing were and was intrigued by the emotion and wisdom that came from a teenager.

“If you wrote an article like that about me, I would run away.”

“Really?” I asked and was internally happy that she felt close enough to me to say exactly what she thought.

“Well, I think I’d walk to my dad’s house and I don’t know when I’d come back home. Or, maybe I’d go to a friend’s and stay for a really long time,” she said.

Then it got even more interesting, because she started talking about whether or not this Mom who did write the post should even be judged by others at all. I paraphrased her comments below:

“I don’t think people should get too upset with her. I think she already knows that it’s not okay to have a favorite kid - that’s why she wrote about it to begin with. She’s probably a really good Mom, but just needs a little help being a mom to one of her kids. Maybe her daughter’s more difficult than her son.”

It was interesting to see that she could allow grace for this parent out there as long as it wasn’t her own mom who did the writing. As she talked, she was able to give this unknown mother more and more understanding. At 14, Lotte’s already getting a detailed look at parenthood. Perhaps watching her mom and step-dad parent her triplet sisters is teaching her more than I ever imagined. You see, she knows her triplet sisters have very different personalities and often require different types of interaction and discipline. Lotte, a girl who spent her first 12 years of life as an only child, seems to have a clear understanding, right now anyway, that parenting differently doesn’t mean loving children more or less.

From my perspective, on a purely selfish level, I’m kind of glad this playing favorites firestorm happened in the twittersphere/blogging world. I got to talk to my teenager and I got to see how cool she is. And that makes a good day for any mom.