But now that I have four of my own, I'm really beginning to understand. I can't possibly have a favorite child - they're all my favorite (but they're all my least favorite, too...)!
Sure, John Paul might drive me nuts when he screeches uncontrollably because I won't let him watch tv all day long.
But then he'll so tenderly hug his sisters, or come snuggle with me while reading a book to himself, or run in circles around the room while singing the books of the Bible and I remember why he is my favorite, my first, my only boy.
And Cecilia... Her complete lack of remorse when she does something like intentionally kick a baby (gently) in the head, going so far as to laugh when the baby starts crying. It drives me crazy!
But when she tearfully comes downstairs from her nap telling me, "I need to snuggle Mom?" And her infectious giggle when she takes off her boot on her car seat singing, "I have a foot!" And her twirling and dancing and hopping around the living room while singing "Immaculate Mary." Then I know that she is absolutely my favorite, my wonderful girl, my sparkly princess.
Then Elizabeth wakes up 3 minutes after I just put her down, demanding to nurse for yet another hour. Or spits up what must be EVERYTHING she just ate all down the front of my shirt. Or Mary Claire poops all over the floor during a diaper change, or spends half an hour latching and unlatching, freaking out because she is so-tired-and-so-hungry-but-never-wants-to-sleep-or-eat. Not my favorite.
But one enchanting, dimpled smile and I can't imagine life without Elizabeth. Or Mary Claire snuggles into me like a tiny, sleepy bear cub breathing her sweet milk breath into my face and making wonderful baby noises. And how could they not be my favorites, my surprise twins, my tiny babies?
And so I understand. "You're ALL my favorite" isn't the cop-out answer I always thought it was. It's the absolute truth, as much as can be expressed in words. How can I possibly explain the joy these children all bring me, each in a completely different way?