I once read a story about a mom who told all her children (separately) that they were her favorite child. After she died the children were talking about her and it came out. "She told me that I was her favorite." one daughter said almost abashedly. Her brother looked up surprised and said, "I don't think so. She told me I was her favorite." One by one all the kids admitted that their mother had told them that they were her favorite. It had made them all feel... special, loved, cherished. Their mom's spoken words of affirmation and value to each of her children had made them feel like they shared something special... because really, they did.
From the moment you learn of your child's very existence. From the moment that you feel the flutters beneath your skin. From the moment that each child is born. You share a special bond with them. That moment when they gasp in their first breath of air and reach into the expanse searching for comfort, touch - and you reach back.
As a mom I will admit that I see my children differently. How can I not? They're all so incredibly unique and enjoyable in their own individual ways. I do not, nor will I ever see them them in the same way.
I do not have a favorite, though.
I get it why that mom told each of her children that they were her favorite. I even like that she did it. It gave them all a feeling of significance. They felt the bond that their mother felt from the beginning - the bond of special, significant, heartfelt love.
I have to assume that the reason those children each believed that they were their mom's favorite wasn't only because she told them, but because she treated them in a way that made them feel like they were the most significant child she had. She made them feel loved not only in what she said to them, but in the her attention towards them, the time she spent with them, how she did things for them. She lived her message of love in a tangible and accessible way. Her children were left with lasting memories of their mom loving them and associated those memories with the words she'd left with them.
"You're my favorite."