seasons of favorites

They’ve done it again. Gone and switched on me.

You’re never supposed to admit it, of course. Parents aren’t supposed to have favorites. It’s a gasp-worthy thought, that you could love one more than another. Or even have a preference. Parents should be divine-like in this respect, we assume, doling out affection and attention in equal doses, like perfectly sliced pieces of pie.

If you brought them into the world, you should love them all the same.

And yet. I find that sometimes the secret slips. It is often easier to love one than another. These are the simple facts of life, the rough rubbing up against each other day after day. Each child goes through phases of pushing away and pulling in close. So too, parents. It’s not that we love more, but that we love differently. And can we be blamed when the easier love seems, well, easier?

. . .

I’m trying to accept that it’s fall. The mornings smell different, and the breeze, even on the rare warm days, blows with a sharper edge. Colors are creeping into the woods: browns and tans of drought-dried trees, a rare burst of red or orange from a resilient maple.

And I do like fall, at least I try to like it. Crisp apples and wool sweaters and pumpkin bread and squash on the vine and the roar of Friday night football and the stubborn brightness of September sun. But summer has my heart: the warmth, the all-around light, the ease, the fresh possibility and the bare feet in cool evening grass.

Summer is my favorite. Yet I have no choice but to live all four, firmly rooted in my Midwest. I joke about being called to the sun and surf, but I’ll never be a snowbird. It’s a lazy, lovely dream, but not the real call of my life. So every year I have to journey through these seasons. The ones I love and the ones I’d love to skip.

At the end of the day it doesn’t make a difference which is my cherished soul-time. I have to find good in each season – real joy, not just biding-time – all the way.

. . .

It doesn’t matter, of course, which child I prefer right now. (And I wouldn’t admit it to a soul anyway.) When I read this again, months or years from now, it will have switched a thousand times since. Just as it has since the first day I had two to love. Favorites are flighty things, fading like fashion. It’s loyalty and love that endure, not the memory of which one I wrestled with when.

Seasons cycle, the phases change as regular as the moon, now half-full to harvest. And yet I find myself so small underneath, gaping up at the vastness of the sky and the weight of all those stars, always spinning and struggling to remember my place in the cycling and changing. Trying to remember the call to trust.

That even when love is hard, the goodness of loving runs deeper.

3 thoughts on “seasons of favorites

  1. Much like I was (eventually) proven right about NPR making you old, one day you’ll come back around to fall being your favorite. It’ll happen!

  2. You are right in that the children seem to switch places in pulling away and pushing the boundaries. Mine just switched on me, and although I do feel a little sad about the one that used to be my buddy who now only can find fault with me, I relish the closeness of the other one now.

    Our previous state was that way for 2 years or so, and I’m glad that I never categorized them as “the good/easy one” and the “challenging one” or else they may not have been able to change out of those roles.

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