They need to hear it...My sister Sara and I are 8 years apart. I clearly remember being so excited when she was born. I wanted a baby sister so badly. I knew we would be close. I knew I'd have a playmate. I couldn't wait til my mom had her.
But...when she got here, I clearly remember the moments of feeling like my parents loved her more than me.
Of course they never said that! Of course there were no favorites. But...I saw the way my Mom looked at her as she held her and I saw the way my Dad talked to her when she was in her car seat on the table, and I saw the love in their eyes. And I felt...jealous.
So one day...(remember I was only 8) I told them how I felt. We had a family meeting and I said, "You guys treat Sara like she is gold and we are silver." And it was a great dialogue because they told me that a baby just needs more attention but the baby isn't more loved.
There are days that I have heard Micah (my almost 2 year old) say, "Put baby down, hold me!"
There are days I will be holding Amelia and hear Julia say, "Mom, do you love me?"
Just this morning as we were getting ready for church I heard Mark ask John, "Dad, do you love me?"
It's these moments that I take the time to say, "Of course I love you!" and hug, or kiss, or tickle, or put the baby down and swing Micah in the air. I let them know, there are NO favorites. I let them know that Mommy and Daddy love them so much. We actually play a game where they get to ask me how much I love them and I have to come up with clever things to say like, "I love you as big as the ocean or as high as the sky or as deep as the Grand Canyon."
Because even though I have no favorites, and even though they hear me tell them I love them...sometimes, you just need to hear it one more time.
And it's natural to feel jealous. It is a very human emotion, however, there is no need for our children to ever compete with the baby or feel like we love them any less.
They are all our favorites for so many different reasons.
Julia is my favorite because she is the first born and she made me a mommy. So that makes her extra special. Plus she gives the best hugs, has the kindest heart and asks the deepest questions.
Mark is my favorite because he is the first boy and he has red hair and because he is so smart and funny. He makes us laugh on a daily basis and he has a sense of style that reminds me so much of John.
Micah is my favorite because he is the baby I prayed and prayed and prayed for because I knew someone was missing from our family. He completes us with his happy-go-lucky attitude, his adorable dimples, and has kept us on our toes with his very advanced motor skills! We call him the genius baby.
Amelia is my favorite because not only do I adore girls, but she is the sister Julia prayed for, she is always smiling, she always wants to go go go, and she is the joy on all of our faces, she perfectly completes our family of 6 and is the best bookend for her her big sister (they are twins in so many ways!)
I love all of my children equally and I treasure their uniqueness. We wouldn't be Team Mac without all of our team members, and I feel really lucky for each one. And I hope they always know how much I love them. I try to take time each day to say it, to show them, to hug them, to kiss them, to compliment them, and find something special about them. I also defend them when they are being teased or picked on (which happens sometimes in a big family) and I am always everyones biggest fan. I believe that all of them are here for a purpose and I know God has great plans for them.
When my children ask if I love them...I remind them again that I do...and like my mom always says, I love them no matter what! Even when they make a mistake, or mess up, or say the wrong thing, or spill something, or they are having a bad day. Because love should never be conditional, should it? Love is always unconditional.
I'm thankful for parents who love me no matter what, and I pray I can love like that too.