Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fess Up Friday and Favoritism

Well, it's Friday. That means it's time for a confession and time for you to head over to Mommy in Chief to check out hers and everyone else's.

My confession will neither shock nor surprise you. In fact, I reckon it barely constitutes fessing up at all. I could tell you about how I took a break from Charlotte's regimented diet of fruits, veggies, organic this, whole grain that, to feed her some nuggets from McDonald's (the horror!) and tried some strawberry flavoring to get her to drink her whole milk. But, whatev. The flavor didn't work, and she's gonna eat junk food once in a while. So, that's not a big deal, either.

My confession is that even though every fiber of my intellectual being tells me not to, I really let it get to me when Charlotte goes into full-on Daddy's girl mode, which is almost always.

Seriously, how many of us have let our feelings get hurt by these tiny people? I mean, it isn't as if they are trying to hurt our feelings. They just want what (or whom) they want. But, when you aren't the one they want, it can really sting. Especially if you hauled that kid around in your uterus for nine months, then pushed her out of it. I mean, really. How is it fair that after all that, you don't even get to be the favorite parent?

Intellectually, I know that this favoritism will come in waves. But, it's been low tide for me for quite a while. A few weeks after Charlotte was born, she got really colicky. No amount of nursing, burping, rocking, or anything, really, could stop the screaming. Chris and I were totally lost, but I did notice that she cried less when he was holding her, that HE was able to calm her down more often than I could. I told myself that it was because I stress more than Chris, and that she could sense my stress. I told myself it was because when she was with me, she wanted to nurse even if she was full, so she would cry either way.

And just when I thought I had a handle on my jealousy, I handed her to Chris after a good, solid try at calming her the hell down. The second we made the transfer, they crying stopped. Well, hers did. Mine was only just beginning. "Why doesn't she LIKE me?" I wailed, running from the room. Chris got to work on convincing me that our daughter didn't hate me, that she was just a tiny baby who was reacting to things such as smells, stress levels, the way she was being held, etc. In her defense, he really is a kick ass daddy.

Chris has always been wonderful about trying to console me in moments such as those. Even now that Charlotte is a toddler and clearly prefers her daddy, Chris makes a valiant effort to console me when I try to hold her and she whines while reaching for him. Sometimes he pretends not to notice. Sometimes he lies to me: "She was reaching for the balloon, not me). And in both scenarios, I call bullshit, because I don't need anyone's pity, damnit!

Except that I do. But only from the person who is far too young to comprehend her capacity for breaking my heart and thus too young to throw a sympathy cuddle my way once in a while.

It is true that I've had my moments. Once...ONCE, during the colic, I took a screaming Charlotte out of Chris's arms without optimism and was shocked when she instantly quieted down. Not as shocked as Chris who said, "Wow. That actually DOES suck a little." You think?

It is also true that Charlotte generally wants me in moments of distress. If she's hurt, overtired, or stressed, she is more apt to want to be held my me rather than anyone else, including her daddy. I suppose I'll take it. Truth be told, I'd be offended that she only hands her stuffed animals to him because she prefers his silly voices to mine, if I wasn't so damned relieved not to have to DO the silly voices. That's something I'll gladly defer to him.

I keep saying that I want my next baby to be a boy so I can have a mama's boy to call my own. I know it's gender stereotyping, and I don't know whether or not there's any truth to it. I know I'm extremely close to my mother. I also know that in the coming years mine and Chris's relationships with Charlotte will get more and more complex and the things that seem huge now will pale in comparison with the way we will relate with her down the road.

She may always get a special gleam in her eye and bounce in her step when she sees her daddy, much like she does now. But, maybe she'll always want me to be the one to put on her band-aids. Maybe she'll want me to show her how to put on makeup 9good luck with that, kid). Maybe she'll come talk to me when she likes a boy.

Who knows? Until then, I'll keep on loving her and keep on warming the bench until she calls on me to be there for her.


  1. Way to make me cry man. Cuz boy, do I get what you're saying here. This is one of my biggest hangups about not being home with the kid--an aching fear that he'll always want Daddy and not me. So far, there's very little favoritism from Jackson one way or the other(except in times of distress), but he's still a little young (I think) to show too much of a preference.
    On the other hand, I think it's totally normal that you feel this way--and that she feels this way (right now). As you said, favoritism will come in waves, but that doesn't make it any easier when you're on the downslope.

  2. I'm pretty sure it's a gender thing and one reason (among many) to want a boy. And I promise there are drawbacks to your kid wanting you and only you.

  3. The downslope totally sucks, Ginger! Perhaps Jackson is too young to show preference, but he's a boy, so he'll almost certainly cling to you!

    Brooke, I can definitely see drawbacks to a child only wanting me. But, that doesn't mean I'm not hoping for it next time...

  4. Thank you for your post, which showed me a bit of the other side of the medal. My son totally prefers me, even though my husband is an awesome stay-at-home dad. He's a lot more fun than I am, so I really don't get why it has to be me and only me doing everything for our son when I'm home. But as good as it sometimes feels (oh, the ego-booster), it mostly sucks. Because I know it hurts my husband, yet I don't know what to do (is there even something I CAN do?). Because it gets heavy at time to have a 2-year-old scotched to your leg. Because he is extremely verbal and the things he says can really hurt.

  5. I know what you mean. The few times Charlotte has rejected Chris, it's hurt his feelings, which makes me feel awful. I can only imagine how bad it would be if it happened regularly, not to mention the inconvenience of never having your leg to yourself!

    I'm almost dreading her getting more verbal because of the potentially hurtful things she's sure to say to me. :(