I have been working on a project dealing with the Biblical character of Rebekah (from Genesis) and I have to admit she is one I struggle with. In Genesis we are told that she gives birth to twins but it seems that she and her husband, Isaac, each have a favorite. Esau is his father's favorite; Jacob is his mother's. Over the course of their story Jacob, with the help of his mother, ends up cheating his twin out of some of the benefits of being firstborn...his birthright, his blessing.
And as I read the story everyone loses...the brothers' relationship is broken...Rebekah has to be separated from her favorite son...Isaac, having been deceived himself, must live with the reality of what he has taken from Esau. In reading scripture and in learning from church tradition, the difficulties of this story are explained away. We are told that God works in different ways than the world, thus using the younger rather than the firstborn. We, in Judeo-Christian traditions, follow the lineage of Jacob for telling our story, so we are told to be invested in his success. We are told that this is God's will and Rebekah is just helping it happen. We are told many things.
But, as a mother, I still struggle with Rebekah (and Isaac) and the overt favoritism that is shown. But, it's not fair to just read her story and criticize Rebekah. See, my struggle isn't only about Rebekah, it's a struggle with the question of whether or not I could be put in a position where I would choose one of my children over the other.
Is it possible that at some point I could act on behalf of one of my children even when it was to the detriment of the other? I understand loving children differently according to their different needs. I understand loving different things about your children. In fact, Katie at The Baby Factory (http://johnstonbabyfactory.blogspot.com/2010/06/days-go-by.html) talked today about the wonderful differences between her twins that she celebrates and I so related to that. But, could I choose one child if it meant not choosing the other? I don't think so. At least I can't imagine it.
In fact, just the other night as tornado sirens were sounding and a tornado was said to have been spotted not far from our home, I had a moment of wondering how to choose which child to carry downstairs. Their father was right behind me...neither child would be neglected...but all I could think was, "How do I choose?" Ultimately I didn't have to. Both were carried to safety. Our house didn't blow away. But even in that moment I could not imagine one of my children feeling like I had picked the other and risked him.
I feel for Rebekah. I don't know what all was going on. I also have to say...I dislike her choices. And I hope that I never find myself in a position where I am able...or must...play favorites.