When I became pregnant with my second child, I remember wondering how in the world I could ever love anyone as much as I love my first child. I was filled with guilt knowing that my oldest wasn't going to get the same amount of attention she was used to, and for even thinking I wouldn't love the new baby as much. Still, I was sure it would all work itself out.
Once the baby came, it seemed like my fears were coming to life. We weren't bonding as quickly as I did with my first child. I had a traumatic birthing experience with the second baby and she ended up in the NICU for a week after birth, causing us to miss out on that essential early skin-to-skin time. I would look at the baby and feel nothing except a reminder that I almost died delivering her. However, it wasn't my oldest daughter who resented me for not spending enough time with her, it was me resenting the baby for causing me to miss out on so much with my oldest.
Here's the thing, as all moms know, babies can't say thank you. They don't hug you if you say you're having a rough day. They don't crack silly jokes that cause you to belly laugh. They can't even understand when you say "give me a minute!" when they need attention, they just cry until they're blue in the face. Babies are both impossible not to love and simultaneously impossible to appreciate.
So, I'll admit it, my first daughter is my favorite. She uses the bathroom by herself, will tell me she loves me completely out of the blue, loves to lay in my bed with me and watch whatever I'm watching just so she can stay up past her bedtime, and will do just about anything for a piece of candy. I will take her three-year-old tantrums and irrationality over being screamed at by a baby all day, every day.
I don't worry that this inequality of love will last forever, I'm not a monster (most of the time, at least). I know that it's harder to bond with the second baby because you can't just sit there and coo at them all day long like you could with the first because there's another human that is fighting for your attention. I know that comparing the two is completely unfair because they are miles apart developmentally. I know that for every minute this baby is taking from my oldest, she will give back to her sister in a few years when they are the best of friends, and I'll suddenly be the odd man out.
Still, I have a very clear favorite child at the moment and have no problem admitting that. I don't feel bad that I'd rather spend time with someone who will actually converse with me over a baby who reacts as if I abandoned her at a fire station any time I need to leave her in her crib so I can simply go to the bathroom. To me, it's kind of a no-brainer.
I can say that I have a favorite child with confidence because I know that over the course of their childhoods, each of them will be my favorite at different times. My oldest is my favorite now, but maybe she will be a wild child when she starts school and the youngest will be my easy kid. My favoritism will be spread out equally over the years, and when the day comes that my youngest is suddenly the favorite I will not feel any more guilt about it than I do right now over my oldest.