I Am a Mom of 5, but I Don’t Love My Kids the Same

I love my children, and there are times I feel I was put on this earth to raise these five humans. Being a mom is the best part of my life, and I can’t imagine our family without any of these five amazing people. But there’s an important confession I need to share:

I don’t love all my kids the same.

Yes, we want there to be no favorites. Of course we wish we could tend to each child’s needs in an equal way. But is that reality? Let’s face it — I birthed five very different humans. They came with their own personalities, interests, and passions. They share the same genetic building blocks, but each is creating their own masterpiece. That’s what we call human nature.

Now, let’s look at the nurture piece. There’s no way you can treat your second infant the same way you treated your first. We have to set that as a realistic expectation. Not only is it reality, it is totally OK. Comparing your firstborn to your second (or third, or fourth) really turns in to listing what you did “right” and “wrong” as a mom. So, full stop there. Let’s embrace the fact that each child within a family is brought up in somewhat of a different household because of the family size and makeup at the time of birth.

Great. Now we’ve talked about children’s differences. They are different people being born into different circumstances each time. Let’s move on to relationships.

Because I have five very different children, I have five very different relationships. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite child or one I “like” more than the others. But they have varying needs, and in order to support those needs the relationships look very different.

My oldest is super sarcastic, loves a good pun, and is obsessed with cryptids. He is such a cool kid, but he hibernates most of his teenage life in his bedroom. He gets good grades and is pretty flexible with change (being the oldest of five forces that on you). He loves a conversation about history. My husband and I chat with him for a bit after dinner every night about some cryptid or an obscure history anecdote. Those few minutes daily fill his cup, and he goes right back into hibernation.

My second child is a high achiever and goal setter. He is a black belt candidate, an honors student, and has a goal to become an animator when he grows up. He is super independent and wants to work through any issues that arise. He does love to play Magic the Gathering and has bonded with my husband over that. During the commute to karate three times a week he and I chat about his forms and what he is working on in various areas.

My third is amazing, although he has a lot of obstacles in his way. He is in a special ed program and has a list of diagnoses that include ADHD, ASD, sensory processing disorder, and, to cap it all off, depression. He struggles in a lot of areas, so he needs more consistent support and resources from both me and my husband. Recently, he has experienced a few great years, but he requires a lot more of us to sustain his successes.

My fourth is my “set it and forget it” kid. She is a quick learner, she’s a passionate friend, and she loves a good book. She needs minimal support in any area. However, showing us what she is working on — whether it is a song she has created, a new chapter of a book she is writing, or a stop animation movie she’s producing — gives her such a lift!

My youngest is who my other four call (jokingly) my favorite. She has speech struggles and needs a more attentive ear when telling a story. She still loves a good cuddle and has eyes that make it hard to say no. She is spunky and athletic but needs a lot of reassurance because of others’ inability to understand her at times.

The point of my synopses of my kids’ personalities and needs? My love for my kids isn’t the same. It isn’t always equal. But it is always fair. I love them each tremendously, but in such different ways.

Michelle is a lifelong New Englander who lives in Stoneham and works in Charlestown. She is a preschool and toddler teacher at a small private preschool and holds a master's degree in early childhood education, which has come in useful at both work and home. She has a supportive stay-at-home-dad for a husband and is a mom of five children. She has three boys in middle and high school, plus two girls in elementary school. Michelle teaches infant and toddler classes for early ed teachers, runs workshops for parents through Boston Naps, and runs her own business, The Parenting Survival Expert, offering parenting tips and support. In her spare time, she can be found reading a murder mystery novel, sipping far too much coffee, and dreaming of a home in the mountains.

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