Friday, October 18, 2013

Mother's Favoritism Is Not Going Unnoticed

Dear Tazi:

I am feeling like the worst mother on the face of the entire Earth, the worst mother who has ever lived! I have two children, spaced sixteen months apart. Both pregnancies were wanted and planned, so I have no excuse for the way I treat my children.

For my first son, “Abraham” I did what every new parent does – went all out on everything, from the deluxe baby book; portraits every month; and the most adorable layette you have ever seen. Abraham’s first birthday was celebrated with a huge party, for which I rented a hall and invited family members from all over the country (in spite of the fact that I was pregnant with my second son, “Isaac”).

When Isaac was born, I simply did not have the energy to do all that I had done for Abraham. I did not make a baby book, did not carefully stitch baby clothes – in fact, Isaac barely got anything new at all; most of what he wore were hand-me-downs from Abraham – and I did not invest in the expensive monthly portrait package that I signed Abraham up for before I even came home from the hospital. Isaac’s first birthday party consisted of cake and ice cream in the backyard with my parents and my brother and his family.

This pattern of spoiling Abraham and shafting Isaac has continued over the years, with neither my husband nor I taking any real notice of it, since we figure that Isaac has had advantages that his brother has not, like us not worrying as much about his every move as we did with Abraham and giving him the freedom to do as he pleases in his dress clothes (which are Abraham’s old dress clothes).

Last year, Abraham had a milestone birthday – 10 years old! We threw him a big party, with pony rides and everything because that is what he wanted. We figured we would do the same thing for Isaac the following year until we discovered the overwhelming stress of hosting such a huge party and the difficulty of bringing in one pony for several children. My husband said never again, and I was silently relieved.

Isaac’s 10th birthday  is coming up, and he keeps excitedly talking about the pony rides and other great things that will be a part of his birthday party, not realizing that it took us months to plan Abraham’s party and that we simply don’t have the energy to do it again. My husband, in a fit of annoyance with Isaac’s excitement, told him to cool it; that he will not be having a pony at his party after the “disaster” that it was at Abraham’s party. Isaac was devastated, and told us that he hated us, that we were the worst parents ever and that Abraham gets everything. Tazi, I feel like Isaac is at least partially correct.

Isaac’s words hit me hard, and I looked back at how we made all of our mistakes as parents raising Abraham and were certain not to repeat them with Isaac, but in doing so we never realized that we were short-changing our younger son. My husband says I need to get over it; that Isaac has benefited in ways Abraham did not but I am not so certain. I have been talking to friends who all say they have done the same – gotten in over their heads with their first children and then laid off with their second and third children. While it is true that I got in “over my head” with some of my plans for Abraham, I never meant to hurt Isaac! I just don’t have the energy to go through it all again!

I have always heard that birth order makes a big difference in a child’s life, and that only children and first-borns grow up to be the leaders – and I think I am seeing why! I feel like my husband and I have given all of our energy and nurturing to Abraham and left Isaac out in the cold. My husband says I am making mountains out of molehills, that by the time his birthday rolls around Isaac will have moved on…and that may be so, but how can I move on? His birthday is the weekend before Thanksgiving and I haven’t got anything “special” planned – just a party at the house. Invites need to go out by November 1!

Worst Mommy In the World

Dear Worst Mommy In the World:

I would not say that you are the worst Mommy in the world; that title is reserved for women who smoke crack while pregnant and beat their children raw. You are, perhaps, a misguided Mommy, who has not yet figured out that you cannot give your children everything they want all of the time. Sadly, it is your elder son who is reaping the rewards of this ignorance and your younger son who is reaping its pains. If you continue with this pattern you will sow enmity not only between yourself and Isaac, but possibly between Isaac and Abraham.

I wish you had written to me earlier; I have a four to six week lead time before letters are published, but I bumped yours up to print the week it was received because a child was involved (you’re welcome). You need to be fair to both of your sons. The next time some ah-MAZ-ing idea for Abraham crosses your mind, ask yourself if you will have the energy and resources to repeat this plan for Isaac. Set aside the rose-colored glasses and be completely honest with yourself. If you have even the slightest doubts then work on a Plan B that involves something equally ah-MAZ-ing for Isaac; it does not have to be the same plan, just an equal plan.

Your children are reaching an age where they are acutely aware of what is fair and not fair. Is it fair that Abraham gets treated like a prince while Isaac gets the leavings? I don’t think so, nor do I think it is fair that Isaac has to watch Abraham get a part with pony rides – PONY RIDES!!!! – while he has to settle for something less, in spite of his desire for the same. Autumn is apple picking season. Might it be possible to plan a party for Abraham at a local apple orchard – one that has a pony or two available for guided rides? You could have apple themed games like apple bobbing, Pass the Apple (which is Hot Potato, only with an apple); apple treats like cider and pie á la mode (instead of cake); and every child can take home a bag of apples that they picked themselves! And, of course, there could be pony rides. (PONY RIDES!!!).

Um, no; not this kind of pony!
(I must speak to my Editor!)

I suggest that you take your husband’s advice and stop beating yourself up over what you have done in the past and concentrate instead on how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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