I know I am meant to love all my sons equally, and honestly I do, but can I help it if one or two of them seem to have a special knack for melting my heart?
Each one of my boys is the most adorable and gorgeous being in my rose-tinted maternal specs, but if I am honest I am softer on some of them.
My youngest son has a way of looking me in the eye that just twists me around his little finger. When angered his dark green eyes take on such a comically stubborn glare that I can't help but smile at his toddler tenacity for getting his own way. His little smile lights up my day and his tears have me rushing instantly to sweep him up into my arms where he will melt into a delicious cuddle.
His twin, while the kindest and most thoughtful of all my children, is less good at manipulating his mother. He has an hysterical bent which means when his will is thwarted, as happens so often when you are two, he simply screams until he is sick – quite literally on several memorable occasions. I can't stand this trait and am phobic about vomit, so I am more prone to walk away than tuck him into my arms.
That said even if I were to try to hold him he would pull his body away, rigid with fury and wriggle out of my grasp. Is it any wonder that his little brother is more frequently to be found gracing the pages of my good books?
Equally with their older brothers, one is studious, calm and adores his mummy. The others is riotous, clumsy and generous with his affections, to the extent that he once debated if I was actually his favourite mummy or whether one of his grandmas would be given that honour instead. Again one knows how to get on mum's good side, while the other isn't quite so adept.
It is only natural to feel this way, after all my boys are different people so why wouldn't my emotional reaction to them be different? I am only human. But I understand that mums are meant to be superhuman and keep these feelings tucked away where their children can never see them.
The problem is that if you let your guard slip and your preferences become known you can wreak untold damage within the family. I know because I was my mum's favourite and in hindsight I can see how much pain this caused my sister and the wedge it drove between us as siblings. Which is why I feel so uneasy about my own relationship with my boys.
But while everyone is afraid to admit it, I think that most parents with more than one child struggle with this uncomfortable reality. For example my husband swears blind he has no preference for any one of his sons, but I am not convinced. I know he shares fellow feeling with my hysterical little twin as they both love watching motor racing on the television and playing with electronic gadgets in equal measure. When I am driven to distraction by his screams, my husband has infinite patience.
Equally while I have a strange admiration for my green-eyed boy's stubborn streak – perhaps seeing something of myself in him – it riles my husband beyond belief. I will dissolve into giggles rather than attempt a power struggle with my tough little twin, but my other half thinks nothing of spending an afternoon playing musical naughty steps with him in an attempt to get him to behave.
Equally with the older boys, our eldest can get away with murder what with his winning smile and quick way with words, while the younger one's combination of a foghorn of a voice, an inability to do anything fast and an uncanny knack for spreading mess means he is more often than not in the paternal firing line.
Whatever the case I know that all my boys are deeply loved and that is the most important thing. I also know that no matter what the reality of the situation favourite will remain a dirty word in our family for fear that any of our offspring could be hurt by that most painful of adult truths: life isn't fair.
Do you secretly have a favourite in your family?
Did you ever have an inkling you were or weren't your parents' favourite?