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Everyone says mothers don’t have favorites. You love your children unconditionally, without reservation. You accept everything and take it all in stride, holding them close until it’s time to let them go.

Nora thinks it’s complete bullshit.

Every mother has favorites. There are bonds and ties that you have with one child that you don’t with another. There are things you suffer through with one that the others can’t even begin to fathom. There are first borns and babies, there are children who spend their lives fighting you and those that spend their lives comforting you. There are children who are a joy and children who are a struggle and you love them all the same amount, but never once in the same way.

Sarah is her firstborn, and the least trouble of all her children. She was confident and competent from the moment she set her mind to something, and never once has Nora worried about Sarah finding success, just that she’d be happy with it when it came.

Kitty was, from the first breath, William’s daughter. His princess, willing to let him pamper her whims and wishes. She didn’t compete with Sarah – there was no competition. Sarah did what had to be done, and Kitty had it done for her. Kitty is the kind of girl that never has the friendship of other women, just the competition. Nora knows that first hand.

Tommy was William’s too. His protégé and pet. He taught Tommy everything and Tommy never said one thing this way or that as to whether it was something he wanted to learn. He just did as William said, did as was his place. He’s everything and nothing like William though, and Nora wonders if he won’t break under the strain.

Kevin was hers. Her baby. He was the kind of baby she always imagined babies would be – he wanted his mother without question, he followed her around on his fat hands and chubby legs, trying to be where she was, never letting her out of his sight for longer than it took to play peek-a-boo. He used to cry, thinking she’d vanished, and the game would always end with him sobbing and her holding him until he was done. She wonders sometimes if everything isn’t her fault, if William was right about that.

Justin is her baby. She feels guilty for the thought, because it was Kevin’s place for so long, but as much as Justin is hers, he was all of theirs. He was a dress up doll for Kitty and Sarah, someone with no fear to rush headlong into Tommy’s games and someone for Kevin to take care of.

Nora doesn’t have favorites. She has five favorites, each loved better than the rest in this area or that, each leaned on for something different, each cherished for who and what they are. She knows they have their issues, their moments – bitchy and petulant and selfish and self-absorbed and narcissistic and unthinking and unfeeling and rude and liars and blabbermouths all – but they’re hers.