“Is Daddy going to be home for dinner?”
“How many sleeps until Daddy gets home?”
“I want to ride in Daddy’s car.”
Sound familiar? Statements like this abound at my house. While my boys do a great job of meeting their “must say Mommy a few thousand times a day,” quota, I am not actually as high in demand as Daddy. I am not their favorite parent.
On so many days, in a million ways, there are clues that lead me to make this claim. Some are rather large and obvious. For example, my husband travels a lot for work. When Daddy has a work trip, we talk about it with the boys, make sure they’re prepared, understand how long he is going to be gone, and know where he is going (map and all). And yet, every single day, multiple times a day, they ask where Daddy is, when is he coming home, if they can talk to him on the phone or send him this picture. Conversely, when I go on my yearly vacation with my sister, the response I get to this announcement is: “YES! Boys weekend!” End of story. They don’t ask about me while I’m gone and aren’t super interested in when I’m coming back.
Other clues are more subtle. Daddy is the person who gets asked to play games or come outside. His name is the one they call out in the middle of the night. (FYI, if I answer to Daddy’s name, the culprit suddenly doesn’t need anything.) When he gets home in the evenings, the boys go running and attack him with hugs and words. (The other day my youngest actually cried when I came home early from work because he didn’t want his babysitter to leave.) When I’m doing something with the boys on my own, we are always taking a picture for Daddy, getting him a sticker to bring home, or saving the last cookie. Basically, Daddy is constantly on their minds, even in his absence.
Of course, everything your kids do gives you all the feels, and this is no exception. But I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t feel left out or sad. It doesn’t make me worry that I’m doing something wrong. On the contrary, I LOVE not being the favorite. It allows me to get things done while they play with their dad. I also get to avoid doing some things I’d rather not, like take the boys fishing or even go to the zoo every weekend (it’s hot y’all). When my husband comes home in the evenings, I take a backseat for the rest of the night. They would MUCH rather Daddy sing them their songs, read them their books, and put them to bed. I still get kisses and snuggles, but I also get some time to myself — and that is lovely.
If I’m honest with myself, I know that one of my husband’s strengths is the ability to laugh, have fun, and be a great playmate. My superpowers lend more to the organizing, list making, making sure everyone has clean clothes side of parenting, and that’s just not as exciting, even if it is appreciated and necessary. If I didn’t take care of all the little things, then my husband couldn’t be as present and fun. Similarly I’m aware that their relationship with their dad takes nothing away from their relationship with me. I’m pretty firmly fixed in their lives as Mommy, and I know I am loved.
I know it may seem hard to have your kids prefer your partner, but there are so many reasons to rejoice instead of mourn. For example, it’s not a big deal to leave if you need to. I am a believer in Mommy recharge time no matter what, but my heart hurts so much less knowing how happy they will be with Daddy while I’m gone. I also tell myself that maybe, just maybe, they say Mommy a few less times a day. Every little bit helps. But the biggest thing for me is having complete faith in their choice of favorite person. After all, he’s my favorite person too. So, when I mentioned to one of our sons that Daddy was coming home the next day and he replied, “Yay! Then the fun can start!” I didn’t cry. I laughed and wholeheartedly agreed.