When my kids were young they had this thing about who was the favorite. Now that they’ve grown you would assume that they outgrew that. They haven’t. I imagine the topic still comes up because it always generated a good amount of banter around the dinner table. Accusations and denials of favoritism provided many affirming discussions and faux outrage over the years. It is a topic that is both absurd and compelling and it always felt a little uncomfortable defending how we felt . How could they know, without children of their own, that parenting doesn’t work like that? I look to each of my kids and their unique qualities for various roles in our family dynamic.
This sibling rivalry is not particular to our family. It always used to crack me up when Tommy Smothers, of the Smothers Brothers would suddenly look somber and exclaim to Dick, “Mom always liked you best.” A fond memory I hold about growing up was my Grandpa Caballero having the special ability to make each and every one of his 17 grandchildren feel beyond any doubt that they were his favorite. I suppose it is just human nature to seek the affirmation of those we love. Sometimes we manage that fairly well. Other times we struggle. Why is that?
I look back at the times when I’m most happy, when I am least insecure with my significance among those I love and there is a consistent theme. The times I’m most happy and most at peace is when I’m focused more on others than myself. I suppose that makes sense. It’s a constant in philosophy and religion that inner peace is attainable by quieting our minds in the service of others. There is a profound sense of fulfillment to be gained from helping others. I find that when I’m engaged helping at my church, in civic efforts and coaching weight loss I have less time to worry about my place in the world. We can all make a difference in the lives of others. It doesn’t need to be a world changing contribution to change the world of one or two people. It’s Monday morning. You do matter to the people who cross your path. Let’s get out there and change the world by loving on one person at a time.