But I do.
You’re not supposed to compare yourself to someone else because they’ll always be thinner, smarter, prettier. But I do.
You’re not supposed to compare your station in life because you don’t intimately know others’ trials and tribulations. Only yours.
And you’re most definitely not supposed to compare your kids. But I do.
Amelia is knocking on the door of her third year on this planet. And Gabriella is already 15 months old. (How did that happen?)
And I compare them. Because they are so incredibly different in the best ways possible.
It doesn’t mean I love either one any less, but I do love them differently.
In today’s world, we focus on equality and wring our hands, hoping everyone feels as though we’re treating them the same as everyone else. Guess what? It’s impossible to treat everyone the same. You have favorite friends. You have relatives to whom you are closer.
My girls deserve my attention, but how can I give 100 percent of my time to both at the same very moment? I prioritize. I make decisions. And my kids are OK.
Gabbie’s soiled diaper takes precedent over Amelia’s request for a lollipop. Amelia’s thirst gets quenched with a cup of water before I scour the floor for Gabbie’s binky. But they both know I love them. And I don’t see any emotional scars. Yet.
Mia plays lacrosse, learning how to throw, catch and scoop. It’s a big deal, just like her lack of potty accidents and how she sleeps in a big-girl bed all night. I let her know how proud I am of her, and we high-five and hug over all of the mini victories.
Now, Gabbie on the other hand, is trying to get the hang of walking. She still turns my pointer fingers white in her grasp as she toddles down the hallway, but we’re getting there. And we high-five over those accomplishments, also.
Two different experiences with the same pomp and circumstance. One is a preschooler and the other toddler.
Comparing can be a good thing. I know Amelia loves tumbling, and Gabriella takes to the water like a fish. Mia is a bit more sensitive and cautious, while Gabbie is a no-fear, rough-and-tumble bruiser.
With two kids close in age, it’s important to understand the differences and similarities because I can’t — and won’t — parent them the same. Even punishments are different, which will change when they’re older.
Both girls picked up a fiery, independent attitude. (Can’t wait for the teen years!) Both girls gravitate toward Elmo and crave outdoor fun.
And both girls have this innate sense of togetherness and what it means to be a family, even with Lucy the beagle. Gabriella waves and coos incessantly at Lucy when we return home. Amelia always asks for whoever isn’t there and wants to know when they’ll return, where they are and why the person is absent.
But the best part is watching them care for each other. When Mia cries, Gabriella offers her binky. My youngest scoots over to her big sister, pulls out her turquoise binky and offers her most prized possession. Inevitably, Amelia stops mid-scream.
“Mommy, Gabbie wants me to have her binky, but I’m a big kid and don’t need a binky. Right, Mommy?”
And Mia tends to her little sister, too. When Gabriella lays down on her blankie in the middle of the kitchen floor, Amelia stops what she’s doing and runs to grab an extra blanket. She gingerly walks over to Gabriella and lightly tosses the blanket over her back, gently patting her back every so often.
“You OK, bub?” she asks. “Aww, Mommy she’s tired. But I’m not ‘cause I’m a big kid.” (Yes, there’s a theme here.)
It’s beautiful. It’s different yet the same. And it’s life.
I know that it won’t always be this easy — where kisses heal scraped knees, tears dissipate with an impromptu tickle fight — but I’ll always treat my girls differently with 100 percent of my unconditional love and forgiveness. (Yes, patience was left out purposefully.)
When one loves sports and the other dance, Brent and I will support both activities. We want them to excel at their passions and work on their weaknesses.
The older the girls get, the more competitive they’ll be. I just hope that we can foster their independence, while tapping into their passions.
Laura Burkey is a full-time working Mom to nearly 3-year-old, 15-month-old Gabriella, 8-year-old Lucy the beagle and wife of five years to Brent.