Mom, who’s your favorite?


December 27, 2017

Mother of 4 tells how she responds to that age-old question of good-natured sibling rivalry.

As a new mother-to-be so many years ago, I was excited to be a mom. Even through the months of morning sickness, I knew the payoff would be such a gift—and could hardly wait.  I looked forward to many milestones in my future of my baby. At that time, gender was still a surprise, so my husband and I had two names chosen: Stephanie or Christopher. And so we waited. Stephanie was born in the summer sunshine, and I thought the world simply could not get any sweeter.

Two years of pure joy passed until morning sickness arrived again and I was delighted to find out we were pregnant again. Surely it would be Christopher? I worried silently through the pregnancy about how could I possibly love another baby as much as I treasured my firstborn. Spring arrived and so did Christopher! I felt honored that I had two healthy and beautiful children. I felt complete.

My worries of favoritism came and went with his birth—it was instant love. There was no doubt that I loved them both and equally as much. My son and my daughter brought so much love and warmth to my life that not a day passed that I was not proud and pleased to be a mom.  I read the Little Golden Books and taught them so many puzzles and so many nursery rhyme songs—what a delightful time we had!

I remember thinking that life couldn’t get any better. Both of my babies were so different in so many ways that made them each so special. I loved the way that Stephanie was such a determined little thing: bright and beautiful, she always knew what she wanted. Christopher was inquisitive; he wanted to take things apart and make something new, yet he was also loving and sweet to me.

Morning sickness arrived a third time and we again wondered: boy or girl? Another summer of sunshine came and delivered us a beautiful red-headed baby girl, Jennifer. I worried through that pregnancy as well, too embarrassed to ask family or friends about how do you love each child as much as the other. How do you make each feel special?

One look at her tiny beautiful face erased all the worry. Again, I was in love with this little blessing. I never doubted for a minute that each of the three were just as special and equally loved. Jennifer just melted everyone’s heart: sweet and shy and beautiful with a head full of red curls.

Our final blessing arrived several years later in the cold month of December—in time for the holidays: another beautiful strawberry blonde we named Kathleen. I could not have felt any richer! Four beautiful children that I adored and whom I felt they adored me as well. We were all very close as they grew up, and we all remain close to this day.

As they became young ladies and a gentleman, the questions began: “Who is your favorite?” I would laugh and say each was my favorite!

Now all of my children have children of their own. They wonder aloud, “Who is your favorite, Mom?”  I continue to reply that each is my favorite for a different reason!   And I sit back and smile, knowing that they too will find out that each child is loved and special. It’s up to the parents and families to make each feel special and love them for what they bring to you and to others. Each child is blessed to have you and you to have them. It takes a lot of work to get through the issues and problems that families all experience as children grow up. But in the end, love them equally and make sure they know that each is a blessing.


This post was written by Marlee Crankshaw, who has worked in nursing for 35 years at Vanderbilt. She currently serves as the Administrative Director for Neonatal Services for the Children’s Hospital, which includes both Newborn Nursery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  She is the mother of four, grandmother to 13 and great-grandmother to three. Marlee enjoys spending her spare time with her family: Sunday dinners, celebrations, anything to get everyone together.