I am not my son’s favorite. I am firmly in fourth place – fifth if you count Kitty. Most of the time I’m OK with it. He’s barely fifteen months old. I’m with him all the time, and that is mirrored in his attitude – which is basically “I can see her anytime.”
Sometimes it’s a little frustrating. Nearly every morning, the first word out of E’s mouth is “Dada.” Before I turn the lights on. He chants it when we walk by our bedroom door whether Chip is in there or not. If he’s really excited he stretches it out. Da-dee! Da-doo! Da-Dee! Da-DA! All. Day. Long. The moment he sees his father it’s a mighty roar of DAADAAAAAA as he flings himself against Chip’s knees. It is as cute as fuck, don’t get me wrong.
He’s just as quick to throw me aside if he spots Nana or Grammy. He breaks into this huge grin and runs to them. He is overjoyed to be with them, demands cuddles and attentin, and has more than once cried when he realized that he was being dropped off at home. Her? Again? Really?
Yes, I know intellectually that it isn’t any kind of rejection. If it’s just the two of us, he’s such a cuddle bug. I have zero doubts about his love for and attachment to me and I am genuinely overjoyed that he is also so well bonded with the rest of the family. But that’s my brain. Some days my heart just winces when he dives out of my arms and into Chip’s, or when I reach back over my shoulder at a stoplight and he shoves my hand away. His independence and affectionate nature are gifts. But dammit child, I’ve done 95% of your diapers, your boo-boos, your meals, your snacks, your naps, your cuddles, your books, your tantrums and your triumphs. Sometimes Mommy wishes she was the favorite.
It doesn’t help that being the primary caregiver means that I am, by default, the bad cop. Nobody undermines my authority or anything, but just by simple virtue of spending the most time with him I am also the one who says NO the most. And it does have to be said often, especially now that he can run. Every trip outside is a round of tailing him so I can take away sticks, garbage, rotting leaves and tasty-looking pebbles, and keeping him from toddling off into the “stwee” to see the “cahs”
It’s honestly ok if I’m not his favorite. I will be sometimes, I’m sure, but if not I’ll live. He’s the most amazing, delightful child and I love him enough that I don’t have to have top billing. I actually assume he’ll feel closer to his father the older he gets, so it’s no surprise. Although I know I’m not the only second (fifth) class Mama in the world and when it stings it stings like a motherfucker.
At least, for now, there is one time of day when I am the favorite. Nobody gets him to sleep like Mama does. And nobody enjoys looking down at that peaceful little face as much as I do. Even on the days when I snuggle him close and kiss his little nose and think quietly to myself…