Dawn Armstrong Family

My Favorite Child

As a mother of eight, you might be shocked when I say that… YES! I DO have a favorite child.
It has always been the one that is sick, or needs me the most at the time. The one that needs a little more love, a little more nurturing and a little more reminding that it not only is it OK, but it is BEAUTIFUL to unapologetically be themselves. They also take turns being my favorite as we celebrate their individual achievements. The thing about being a big family, is you have to be aware. We are always so careful to safeguard their individual times to shine. They deserve their moments…and this week it was so beautiful because each of them had one!

Oh how proud I was of Drew a little more than a week ago when he graduated from elementary school. He is such a great kid. He is such a good person, morally clean and strong. He is a good leader, and of course so bright. He cares about his siblings, and helps me so much. He is definitely my favorite.

Julian was the student of the week and I had the opportunity to come into the classroom and tell everyone about him and show him off through pictures. The night before I drafted a powerpoint presentation to show his class. It had love bugs all over the slides (that is what I have called him since birth, he has always been my love bug). Julian is so shy, so for him this was such a HUGE deal. As he giggled and fought so hard not to be embarrassed that he was the center of attention. He was so shy and so sweet, my heart was so full. He brings such a softness to my heart.  Yep, he is my favorite for sure.

Ethan was my favorite as I watch him act in his 4th grade school play this week. He did such an amazing job. I was so proud of him. My favorite part was watching him giggle and turn red as he had to propose marriage to his other cast mate with a straight face. He is so fun loving and kind. His heart is so tender, and he always wants to make those around him happy. He is SO my favorite kid!

Ava was gifted to me as my first daughter. I felt her presence before she was born. There was a day when I was around three and a half months pregnant that I literally felt her tiny spirit enter my body. (A story for a different day) Right then, I knew she was a girl. Her tiny spirit entered my body and stopped right at my heart, and she will remain there forever. Her sweet and sunny disposition….wow. There is a kindness about her that is so endearing, and it’s been there from the very beginning. Oh, how I look forward to our closeness in a way that has been so different from the boys. Equally special, but just so different. We will be close forever. SHE is my favorite.

Then there is our “tiny tot twins”, Payton and Sophie!! Oh my goodness I couldn’t be more in love with two people. The way they talk, walk, laugh, get into mischief, dote on one another… I love it! They crack me up all day every day. Sophie is so sweet and soft. Payton is rough and tumble. He is all boy, she is all girl. He bugs her like brothers do, she bosses him around like sisters do. My favorites…oh my favorites!!

Today, Anthony was to receive his patriarchal blessing. (evangelist’s blessing) I got up at 6:30am and woke the boys up. We started this morning with a fast to make sure the moment was perfect and we were in tune. Clothes were ready for the most part, because I didn’t want any distractions or typical feelings of wanting to kill my children before 9:00 am church. I carried a song in my heart this morning as I do every Sunday morning, however typically around 8:15 the notes turn sour as my patience wears thin trying to rally the troops. I struggle to get Anthony and Drew out the door to set up the church with their hair combed, teeth brushed, white shirts, ties that actually match their slacks, scriptures, and then off to pick up the brood of teens that go with them.

It is Father’s Day today, and I wanted it to be special for my husband. Knowing that I couldn’t fit in too much more before 9am, I made his Father’s Day breakfast yesterday. I treated him to home made {HUGE} cinnamon rolls. His gifts were all ready. Cards signed by the kids and everything. Man, I am on it. I had the little ones dressed, everyone’s hair combed, shoes and socks, belts…you know the drill.

Today I came, I saw, and I sang the happy notes. Then quickly realized that we couldn’t find our keys to the suburban. GRRR. After an hour of searching every nook and cranny, I remained calm. Well played Satan, well played. Instead of freaking out like I normally would, we took the BMW without missing a beat. Even though we were seven in car that seats five, it was 8:56 and we were going to church even if we had to walk. We got out of our “clown car”, and heading inside.

Church was wonderful. We had three great speakers and the primary sang to the dads. I loved every second. My heart was so full knowing that it was Father’s Day, and for the first time in my life, I would hear what it was like to get a patriarchal blessing. (a blessing from God that details the purpose for your time here, and the blessings you can expect from living worthily, in a nut shell.) I have never gotten mine. I guess I just felt like it was something I wanted to make sure Anthony did before I even considered it for myself. It’s all the mattered to me honestly, was getting him here.

So, homeward bound to finish the preparations for the big turkey dinner to come. Anthony and Craig went to visit some families in the neighborhood after church. Shortly after returning home, it seemed like in a blink it was quarter after two and time to go to the patriarch’s home.

We walked outside to a beautiful, bright sunny day. The weather is perfect. We headed to the car. I decided to sit in the back seat. This was Anthony’s moment and I just wanted to be the spectator. Craig started the car and turned on the radio. “The Voice of the Children” by Kurt Bestor played in the background. As I listen to the words, my eyes filled with tears. We were about to go hear my child’s special blessing from his Father in Heaven. I was filled with so many emotions. Pride, joy, and some sadness that is all happening so fast. How did I get here so quickly? It was just yesterday I was going to Anthony’s promotion ceremony from elementary. Now he is entering his senior year, with a mission shortly after. There is never enough time. I’m not ready for how quickly things are coming. God, please let this next year go slow. I’m not ready to let him go. I wipe away the tears and I look forward. The view from here is perfect. I see my two white shoulders. One is my husband, one is my son. Both are men I love, both are my best friends. Both wear a white shirt and are worthy to do so. Both love and serve a mighty God, by their own convictions. Both have my heart forever. I thought about my husband, and what a great man he is.  He’s the prize for doing all the hard stuff.  I thought about what a great Father’s Day present this must be for him, to see his son make good choices. His example of being a good man has been fruitful. Anthony has watched his father respect his mother, and that it is ok to be tender. He is a great provider and loves his children. Craig is loyal, in every way.  Ironically, Craig’s patriarchal blessing says that his children will mimic him. Anthony has had the opportunity to watch his father and mirror these qualities.That has proved true on so many occasions. My husband is the best, no doubt about it.

We arrive at the beautiful and modest home of the patriarch. His home is so warm and inviting. He is warm and inviting. His home feels just like the temple, clean and appropriately adorned with items that invite the spirit. He tells us of his wife and children with pride. He starts to explain the importance and the sacredness of the blessing that Anthony is about to receive. He asks Anthony why he chose this moment in time to have his patriarchal blessing. Anthony states that he has thought about it for some time and at the last general conference, they encouraged the youth to get theirs and he also felt it was time. Anthony said that he felt as if this blessing would help him with his goals in sports, school and his mission. The patriarch responded positively. He asked a series of questions both personal and spiritual. Before he began the blessing, he asked Anthony again what he wanted from this blessing. Anthony without a second thought said, “I want to know what the Lord has in store for me in my life.” Then the patriarch did something I wasn’t expecting. He paused and asked us individually what we loved about each other. Wow…I was floored. As each one of us took turns answering, the spirit was so strong. What a gift to leave no words unspoken about how we felt each other. With tearful eyes, we each took turns expressing our love and gratitude, and acknowledged the role we play in each others lives. The pride and admiration we had in Anthony as he spoke so openly about his feelings..it was so incredible! I just sat quietly, watching him in awe of his good heart. The patriarch shared so much with us, it was so amazing. There is no question he is called of God.

After 40 minutes of visiting, which felt like a gift in itself, the patriarch then laid his hands on my son’s head. In an instant, he became a mouth piece for our Heavenly Father. Tears didn’t stop flowing through the entire blessing. It was incredible. I felt my Heavenly Father’s love for my earthly son. It was a perfect moment. When the blessing was over, I felt a great peace. I also felt a beckoning in my heart. To rise even higher to the occasion. To take this job seriously. God needs us to do his work in teaching his children. Sometimes we forget that our children are on loan. That they were His before they were ours. There in lies the great responsibility, that they remain HIS. Everything we do to teach our children should lead them back to their Heavenly Parents. There is no higher calling than this. They are with us for such a short time before we send them off for the world to do it’s worst. This world is eventually going to preach against everything we have taught this kid, and it’s our job to make him spiritually bulletproof. To help him become deeply rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a beautiful moment that I will always cherish, but I was amazed how much it seemed to also wake me up to this responsibility. In a year and a half, he is going to walk away from me and all I can think about is are we doing ENOUGH? Note to self: DO MORE.

Today was a beautiful reminder that my children are a gift. My goal as a mother is to return these gifts back to God better than what I received them. I know the next year and a half is going to go by so quickly. I hope God can slow time down just a little so I can cherish all of these last moments with him at home. I am excited for Anthony, and I know he has wonderful things in store for the future. He is a valiant servant of God. His commitment to his faith and his family are strong, and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better older brother or example for the rest of my children.

Anthony…definitely my favorite ;).  *** Journal Entry from June 20th, 2010



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  1. Beautiful. I love this, especially the “are we doing enough? note to self: Do more” it’s a constant struggle. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I love how you can put your thoughts and emotions into words. This really is what it’s like to be a mother. You’ve expressed it so well. Proud to call you my friend.

  3. Just came across your blog today and love it! While I’m “stopping by” I thought I’d pass along a cute story I think you’ll enjoy…

    My (80ish) mom lives in Draper. She loves to write and has attended workshops (on writing a personal history) all over the country. At one of these conferences she struck up a friendship with an older (non-member) lady from North Carolina. This woman had never been to Utah (or met a Mormon before), but told my mom she was very interested to learn more about Mormons. A few months later she booked a trip to Utah, telling my mom she wanted the “full Utah experience”! My mom picked her up at the airport and they drove to Temple Square where they did a tour, went to the Family History Center, and watched “Meet the Mormons”.

    The next day they drove to BYU where my mom had arranged a campus tour. As they were riding around in a golf cart, your son (Anthony) happen to walk out of a building on campus (“cue the missionary,” LOL!). My mom’s friend immediately recognized him from “Meet the Mormons” and excitedly waved him over. They had a really sweet conversation with him (my mom said he’s very handsome and charming). My mom’s friend asked him (jokingly), “Has your mom stopped crying yet?” — he laughed and commented that he has the “best parents in the world!” She was bowled over by him… ; )

    Later that evening they attended the BYU Spectacular where David Archuleta was the featured guest. As he walked off stage after singing “Glorious,” he by-chance glanced their direction and waved — my mom’s friend exclaimed, “I love you!” which he responded with a big grin.

    Sunday morning they attended Music and the Spoken Word, which she said was “icing on the cake” to a great visit. Though she hasn’t joined the church (yet — wink!), a seed was definitely planted, and your cute son was a bit of the sunshine that helped it take root. : )

  4. Dawn, I should have also added (based on your latest blog post) that my mom is not one who opposed the center in Draper, and served for several years at the County Correctional Facility (in Bluffdale) as the Young Women’s leader (a calling she loved very much), teaching each Sunday and also doing weekday activities with the young women there.

  5. I have a “game” that I play with all my grandkids – “Who’s my favorite?!?” I call this out as I’m leaving them all after a day together. All in the room (whether 1 or 11) will answer, “I AM!”
    One of my grand daughters was upset one day and asked her mother in a whisper, “I thought that I was Mimi’s favorite…” When her mother, my daughter, told me this my heart broke just a little. So that night I sat down and wrote a letter to every grandchild (“real” and adopted) and told them why they were my favorite. Of course, every one of them was sworn to secrecy and they weren’t to brag to anyone as to why they were my favorite because we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, did we? That seemed to smooth over all the tender feelings. And I (“Mimi”) was forgiven for any slight that I may have caused.
    But my real favorite is my oldest – and they all know it. And he has been for a good long time. He’s been a wonderful source of joy, caused a lot of tears, bated breath, and dreaded nights until he came in after curfew. He jokingly told the grandkids once as we played out “Who’s my favorite?”, “Don’t let her fool ya, kids, but I am!” And he was right. But the reason why he’s my favorite? Simple. Because he’s broken my heart the most. Now he’s all grown up and he’s been forgiven for all those times that he caused us to lose sleep, all the prayers that have been said on his behalf, all the pacing, the begging, and the tears that have been shed. And he’s learned to forgive himself, too.
    And he can even say, with a smile, “I am my mom’s favorite.” And the others know why, too.

  6. Well I sincerely liked reading it. This information provided by you is very helpful Thank you.

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