After Maddie was born, I did NOT understand how anyone could love more than one kid. I was certain that I could never love another kid as much as I loved Maddie, so how could all these other people claim to love each of their kids the same? I obviously learned that it’s possible and awesome.
My parents were very careful about making sure my brother and I knew that they loved us equally. Being twins, we were very conscious of how we were treated. We wouldn’t stand for one of us getting treated better than the other.
Of course, because we were kids, we CONSTANTLY thought the other was getting special treatment. “You love him/her more!” was said a LOT. We’d get mad at each other simply because we were SURE the other twin was everyone’s favorite and it was totally unfair. We were totally irrational with our raging anger – we blamed each other.
I try really hard to treat my kids the same. Every day, Annie becomes more alert and aware, and it’s almost impossible to sneak anything past her. Which is both awesome and awful when I’m trying to sneak some dessert in the kitchen!
She notices everything I do. I will sometimes kiss my fingers and press them against a photo I have of Maddie. I realized Annie had seen me do this when she stopped me and said, “Maddie kiss?” Right now Annie doesn’t understand that I kiss a photo of Maddie because it’s all I have – she just sees me kissing something that isn’t her. So now when Annie is around, I kiss a photo of Annie after I kiss a photo of Maddie. Someday she’ll understand…right?
It’s hard…I’m still the mother to two kids, but I don’t want Annie resenting Maddie because she saw me doing something only for her simply because it’s my only option. I know Annie will probably resent Maddie at some point anyway – that’s just how siblings are – but I want to do my best to keep it to a minimum. How do parents of multiple kids balance the fairness? I’m constantly worried about it.
You Are The One made it to number 4 on the Amazon Singer-Songwriters chart yesterday!
Don’t forget to buy the song to support Friends of Maddie!
I don’t have much insight other than to say that I was born one year exactly after my sister who passed away the day after she was born from unexpected complications…exactly. I was born on her birthday. Yep, that’s right, creepy huh? The point is, I have always shared a birthday with my angel sister and I don’t remember ever once resenting her even though part of my birthday was spent on a cemetery visit. It was just something our family did and though I’m sure there were many years when I was really too young to fully understand, I don’t remember nor have my parents ever mentioned me being angry about it. I’m sure that little bright spark of yours will figure it all out much sooner than you realise and I think it’s wonderful that you are honest and open about including Maddie in your lives. My parents never got a photo of my sister and only a day’s worth of holding her but she had always been a welcome part of our family, the eldest and dearly loved. Just like Maddie.
Karen, this is beautiful.
Reading how you are negotiating parenting two children made my chest burst up and want to hug you, Heather. You are so mindful and beautiful. And what a blessed comment to receive from Karen, above.
Thinking of you heaps X
I don’t have answers for you, since we’re done at one, but I remember always thinking–like you did– that another sibling was getting special treatment. Now as a preschool teacher I chalk it up to ordinary child development; kids are just extraordinarily concerned about fairness. I don’t know much beyond that, except that Annie is going to know she and Maddie are both very, very loved.
I was always certain that my brother was Mom’s favorite, and at nearly 40, I still am! But I don’t resent him for it like I did as a child. I’ve come to understand and appreciate that he and mom have a special bond that exceeds what she and I have. Maybe it’s the mother/son thing, maybe it’s because she and I are too alike, maybe it’s because he’s the baby…..who knows but as I matured and had my own kids I let it go. Either way, I know my mom loves me fiercely and would do anything for me. But this topic is a tricky one because I think that if parents were totally honest, many would admit to having a favorite. And that favorite may change back and forth as kids enter not-so-fun times in development. Either way, whether there’s a favorite or not, there will be a perceived one!
After reading that, I feel like I need to clarify…..by having a favorite, I don’t mean loving one MORE than the other, but rather one may be easier to love? It’s hard to explain, and I really hope few can relate to that, because it’s not the best feeling as a mom.
I have four, and I love them all differently..but equally. I can honestly say I do not have a favorite. They are each special in their own way. Now ask if they think their is a favorite, and that’s another story…the name will change on a daily basis though!
I think Annie will figure it out and I don’t think she will have an ounce of resentment about it. You are doing the best you can, and that is just about all you as a parent can do. I am a daily reader of your blog, I have to say I think you are doing an excellent job and am truly inspired by you.
I often have these same thoughts. I have 2 stillborn sons, Sloan and Seth, and a living daughter, Eliana, who is 11 months. I want to make sure elie knows that she has two brothers but I don’t want her to resent them or have survivors guilt. It is very different to parent a child in heaven that you hold in your heart and aliving child you can hold in your arms.
Amy Crider says:
As a mom of 4 young babies… I try and take each one of my kids on a special date. Always dinner/lunch of their choice and what ever they are into at the time… One time I took my oldest to barns and noble and she got a book. Than my second one I took fishing, third I took to a DQ and to the park to play. I only spend lunch and about 10 each time on what ever they want and they love that they get the one on one attention. I also tell them about 500 times a day how much I love them as much as the rest and why ilove them
Amy Crider says:
i should say my babies ar 10 7 5 and 15 months
I’m newly the mom of 2 so I worry about the same thing all the time. How am I going to make sure that both my girls feel and know that I love them completely. I think we, as parents, just figure it out at some point, at least I hope so anyway.
That is definitely a new dynamic with Annie noticing more and developing the critical thinking skill. But I’ve been reading you for a long time now and while I have no children, I know that this is going to be a natural seamless progression for you and you’re going to handle it with grace and the innate instincts of a mama.
I was the oldest, but my mother suffered a stillbirth when I was 2-1/2. I don’t ever remember resenting Jeffery, ever. I remember fighting with my living brother (4 years younger than me), not sure I’d label it resenting, but being displeased with… but I never remember anything negative about Jeffery and his role in our family. He has a Christmas ornament which is the first to be hung on my parents’ tree every year, directly under the angel at the top, and we always go to the cemetery when we are visiting my grandparents (we’re military, so that’s where he’s buried)… there were times I did something to upset my mother that I didn’t understand. Ex, I once, as a young child, drew a picture of our family, like most kids do… but I included Jeffery, only he was under the ground… Mom took my picture and crumbled it up and threw it away. I was very confused and didn’t understand, but I never felt resentful. ((HUGS))
My husband’s parents lost their first child at 18 months, and had three other children after her death. My husband and his sisters never resented their sister who had passed away- just wished they’d known her. I think you’re doing a great job keeping Maddie’s memory alive and making her known to Annie- I don’t think Annie will resent that.
Tammy M. says:
My kids are both well-loved and they know it. They are 16 and 19 and have been told this daily by both parents for their whole lives. Occasionally, one would say to me “Why does he get to do this and not me?” or “Why does she get to have that and not me?” or something along those lines. I would just smile and say, “Because he/she is my favorite.” Their response was ALWAYS a smile and “No she/he isn’t.” I loved their response. My response was always “Oh yeah, you’re right.”
I totally expect to get flamed for this by several of your readers and that’s okay. There is no question in my mind or my kids minds how much they are loved. I don’t think there will be any question in Annie’s mind either.
Having a sense of humor with your children is very important. No flaming. I’m sure when my kids are old enough to get jokes, I’ll do it, too.
katrina @ They All Call Me Mom says:
Ha! No flaming here…because I say that to my kids, too! They always know I’m joking. There are 9 of them, and sometimes there is no answer to why he or she got something or got to do something that another didn’t — I seriously can’t keep up and I hate having to keep track or keep score. So when asked, “How come he gets to have one?” or “How come she got to stay up late last night?” I will simply say, “Because she’s my favorite” — and then I get the comments, “Well, I get to be favorite tonight, then…”
Having a sense of humor – very important
Also, while it’s true that I love all my kids equally, it’s also true that sometimes I DO have a favorite. When asked, “Which one is your favorite?” I honestly answer, “Whichever one needs me the most at the time” and that can be a sick child, a child who is having a difficult time with friends, or simply a child who needs my undivided attention for the moment. I think it’s okay to have a favorite sometimes. They all deserve to be the favorite every once in a while.
HA! We do this in my house too! My answer is always “Because I like him/her better than you.” That usually gets a chuckle, and a request that I promise to change my loyalty at some point.
I think the simple fact that you’re conscious of this shows it won’t be a problem for you! I think you’ll do a wonderful job!
Being impartial towards our kids is more art than science especially when they are the exact same age. They would run for school offices, although never against each other, and inevitably one would win and the other would lose. How do you celebrate one’s victory without it making the other feel even worse? The same conflict arose with sports, awards presentations and even getting accepted by certain colleges. Our only break came when they were seniors in high school and Heather was elected student body president while at the same time Kyle was elected senior class president. We always handled the issue by realizing they would know that life has successes and failures and the important thing is to never give up. We always congratulated the successful child and comforted the other child going through their disappointment. I think it set a good example for the kids who, even from an early age, comforted each other when they lost. Is it hard for the parents…always.
I think Annie will come to understand that there are limited ways you can show your love for Maddie. You and Mike do a wonderful job of keeping Maddie part of your family and making sure Annie knows she and Maddie are both loved.
I try to make sure that my kids know that being fair doesn’t mean treating each kid the same. If I see a coat on sale for kid #1, I buy it and it doesn’t matter that I come home without something for kids#2 and 3. My 11 year old needs to talk to me about girl stuff, my 8 year old needs me to read the story he wrote and my 5 year old needs me to cuddle him awake in the morning. They are each unique and I give them what they need. They know that my love is always available for them and when they are the one with the need, it will be met. I’m sure that Annie, loved as she is, will know that too.
Stephanie M. says:
My brother and I are almost exactly 13 months apart. Thinking back, I do remember moments where I thought things were “unfair”, (being the older sister probably had something to do with it) but there was never a question of love. I never thought my mom LOVED him more than me. I have probably said it a few times, but it was never, ever meant. (It was most likely a guilt tactic to get my way on something)
The bottom line is that parents do different things for their different children. When my brother would fall asleep the minute he hit the pillow, my mom would lay in bed with me until I was dreaming so hard I wouldn’t hear her leave. Was that fair? No. Did my brother want my mom to lay in bed with him? Probably. You can’t parent two children the exact same way because they aren’t the exact same person. Where my parents had to give in a little for my brother, they went full-force on me.
Parenting is never perfectly fair, but there is always the same, perfect amount of love. Annie will know that.
I have a son and a daughter. I love them equally but they are unique so the love for each of them is uniquely different.
I always tell each “you’re my fav son” “you’re my fav daughter” and they each reply “the only”! lol… The heart grows to accomodate the children and the love.
Annie will know that she and Maddie are LOVED!
This is a situation that is very real for me at the moment. I have a 6 year old girl and a 4 year old boy. My boy was recently diagnosed with Batten’s Disease which is a rare neurological condition. It is also degenerative and there is no cure. He will never get better, only worse and will die before he turns 10. As a result we spend a lot of time taking him to various appointments and we have a health care team of occupational therapist, speech therapist and physiotherapist who makes regular visits to the house. As a result it often looks to my daughter that we spend more time with our son. He has lost most of his speech and now communicates through hitting and squealing. He hits his sister a lot and of course we don’t punish him the same way we would punish our daughter if she were to hit. This is construed by her as us loving him more. It’s a tricky, tricky situation to manage
On another note: thank you for being so honest about your grief and feelings surrounding Maddie. It has given me some strength that when my boy finally goes I will not completely crumple in a heap never to emerge. Your strength and honesty amaze me, thank you
katrina @ They All Call Me Mom says:
Oh Stacey, I’m sorry to hear this about your son. How very, very hard this must be on you and your entire family
When people ask me, jokingly, “who do you love most” or “who is your favorite” I honestly answer them, “Well, that would be whoever needs me the most at the time.” and for a few years that was my daughter, who at the age of 4 sustained a severe brain injury in a car accident. We spent nearly 3 years in rehabilitation with her, day in and day out. My other children took a back seat to that. Did I like it? Absolutely not. Did I feel bad about it? I sure did. But it was what I had to do at the time. I had a hurt child. She needed me differently than my other children did. As a mother you do what you have to do, you know? While people at the time might have tsk-tsk’d at our situation, saying that our other children would feel less loved, resentful, etc….I can say poo-poo to that, because it’s been over 15 years now since the car accident, and if anything my other children have learned that if anything should ever happen to them, God forbid, that we will do everything in our power to make them well again, too. Or comfortable. Or to improve their quality of life. Or whatever it is they need. They saw us do it with their sister, and they have security from witnessing that, knowing that we’d do the same for them if it were ever necessary.
But yes, it’s a very tricky situation. Our hurt daughter didn’t get punished like her other siblings did, either. But our children learned compassion instead of resentment. Your daughter will learn that, too.
I’m so sorry about your son’s diagnosis. I will keep him in my prayers.
She absolutely will understand and because you have kept Maddie such a part of your life I’m sure she will be pressing her fingers to the same pictures of her sister that you do today.
I have four children now (three adopted/1 stepson) and I was really worried that I would somehow prefer one over the other, especially since I got one at 9, one at 21 months, one at 3 1/2 and one at 6. I didn’t have that baby bonding time. I can honestly say that I love them all the same, but like someone else said, differently. They all have different personalities and different issues, and sometimes one child will get more attention because of that, but I honestly love them the same and I hope they can see that. I am pretty new to your blog but it seems that you are doing a great job.
Really say that she absolutely will realize and since you have kept Maddie this sort of a element of your life I’m sure she will be pressing her fingers to the identical photographs of her sister that you do nowadays.
Annie knows she’s loved. She’ll understand the photo kisses.
Karen Zelenz says:
I always read and seldom post. You, Mike, Maddie, and Annabel are always in my thoughts and prayers. I totally hear what you are saying, I have a 5 and 3 year Old. My Dear Hubby loves the story of how after being surprised on how quickly I got pregnant for our first (I was 35 and had always heard from drs it would be difficult) and being on bed rest from week 29 and giving birth in week 34 and seeing my first girl… thinking nothing is better than this… then 13 months later after absentmindedly forgetting a few of my pills finding myself pregnant again – and feeling sad. How could I ever love another thing more than my Maddie (Madison) no way, no how…then my DH explained in his very always gentle and wise way. Baby, it’s like the grinch your heart just grows and makes room. As we approached the same obstacles, problems, cerclage’s, and time away from my first baby – the first glance of my Abigail… well my heart grew. Just like DH said. The 2nd one took a little time, we checked each other out for a while – there was sadness – but ultimately joy. And just a thankfulness for what I was granted. These two fight like cats and dogs – but I hope someday they will each teach each other things and be friends. Through your blog and friends – Annabelle will learn, all of the beautiful things her parents do in memory of her sister and in actuality of herself. You both are beautiful people. The beautiful way in which you regard Maddie and Annie are an inspiration and a reminder to the rest of us on what life can hold for us in the brightest and darkest of times. Survival. You both are the epitome of it. I love you guys!!
I have similar struggles. Our first son died before our twins were born. They were 2 1/2 when their baby brother died. I hope the twins never resent their brothers.
Thank you for this post. A lot of the comments are really helpful. Take care.
Love it! You picked perfect pictures of the girls!
Mya Maternity says:
It is hard sometimes to spread the love around. I think it all has a way of working itself out.