What I Said When My Kid Asked, "Mommy, Who Do You Love More?"

family cuddling on couch

What to say when your children want to know whom you love the most.

Way back in 2005, Ayelet Waldman wrote a piece for the New York Times claiming she loved her husband more than her kids. She may as well have said she hated America with the outpouring of criticism she received. Mothers across the country took to the Internet to explain not only why she was wrong, but what a despicable person she was for having said it. As a nation of well-intentioned moms and wives, we can be a hardened group. And when it comes to defending our love for our loved ones, our tolerance levels are low.

We have strict guidelines for our familial love. The general, and most accepted, rule in this hierarchy is that we love our kids first, no questions, no conditions. Once we've listed our children, we are free to love our spouse. After everyone we live with has been named, we can then move on to our extended family, our friends and the pets. (I'm not sure where self-love fits into this love chart; I guess you put it wherever you can sneak it in, as long as it's not above the children.) 6 Loving Ways To Have A Truly Happy Marriage (AND Happy Kids, Too)

While such a chart makes for a neat and tidy way to determine how much to spend on each person's birthday gift, it doesn't really work. Love isn't something you can measure with a pie graph (although, interestingly enough, you can use a graph to measure which pies you love best). Love is fluid and ever-changing. The singularity of the word itself does not even come close to covering the scope of its available applications in life.

I love my coffee.

I love my zebra-skinned Michael Kors four-inch heels.

I love my husband.

I love writing.

And, of course, I love my children.

The fact that I only have the word "love" for each of these statements shows how our language betrays us. Of course we love our kids, and we'll most likely love them no matter what they do. The most heinous of acts would not make me turn my back on my children. (In fact, the worse the behavior, the more driven I am to question my own ineptitude as a mother.) I Love My Daughter More Than My Husband—And He Knows It