You are all my favourites

When my three children were small, I used to read them a story about three little bears. The furry creatures were very much loved. One was the only girl, one was the smallest, and one had patches. They were all different. And each of them worried: would Mummy and Daddy Bear love them as much as the other two?

February 8, 2024

As my children grew, I found their own distinctiveness shone through – beyond their physical appearance and position in the family, extending to their personality, their strengths and their aspirations. I suspect the three siblings would wonder: can their parents really love each one equally?

Fast forward 20 years, and my phone pings with a message. the sign off is: Love from your favourite child. I get an email from our second child, asking if I could reimburse for petrol - signed: your fave. And then I’m invited to join a small chat group with our youngest – I see the group has been thoughtfully named “Amaani’s the favourite”.

I know and they know they’re having a laugh!

Because when I had my first child, my capacity for love developed. It acquired a new depth.  And when I had our second and subsequently the last, that capacity for love expanded still further. It magnified in a way I hadn’t previously understood was possible.

I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, told us God created one hundred parts of mercy, keeping 99 parts with God Himself. “Every part of mercy fills what is between the heavens and the earth. God made one part of this mercy for the earth and it is because of this that the mother shows affection to her child.”

So if the earth- with everyone and everything on it, together and across all time  - gets just one hundredth of such infinite compassion, to me that sounds like there’s a lot of love to go round.

My children have shown me that through God’s grace, I can love them each in their own unique way, yet all with equal tenderness. And to this day, I keep that book near my bedside. It ends with Daddy Bear explaining to the smallest: Biggly or littly, we love you just the same. You are all my favourites.