All of a sudden you are the favoured parent. Right now our toddler only wants his daddy to lift him out of his cot of a morning, buckle him into his car seat, read to him, build train tracks with him, coax him into eating his dinner, bath him, change his nappy and soothe him when he bops his head and erupts into a hyperventilating ball of tears.
But you should know …
I’m secretly enjoying the break!
I’m the one who ordinarily does most of the day to day things for our sons. While you are a wonderful hands on daddy who steps right into dinner/bath/bedtime routine duty the minute you walk through the door at night, for a long time I’ve been the preferred parent. I guess I’m around more, so it makes sense, but it may also be because I’ve been the favourite. Playing favourites is just something kids do, like running toilet paper through the house and melting down over a snapped banana.
But man, I’m tired.
I’ve needed this break. It’s been nice having you home the last few days and having him drag you, instead of me, by the hand to get him a sippy cup of milk. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to drink a hot cup of tea on the couch while you change a nappy, because (yay) he doesn’t want me to do it!
I know you are secretly enjoying it too
As you sigh and then clutch his little hand in yours as he leads you away, I can see your chest swell. I know you are touched by his wanting you and you should be. It’s nice to be so adored and also needed. Having your child’s little body curl up on your lap because you are the only one who can calm him and make him feel safe is the most sacred part of parenting, and that connection is bloody beautiful.
In truth, it’s what makes me get through the slog days. Those moments of ‘this is all that matters’ triumph over the nagging, the wailing, the bickering and the push-my-buttons-until I crack times.
Well my love, I say bask in it now because I’m not sure how much longer you have in the ‘number one parent’ position.
I know it won’t last
As soon as you go back to work, the favourite tables will turn back again. I know when this happens you’ll also feel a sting of rejection, as I do now when our toddler refuses my comforting pats in favour of your grizzly bear hugs.
I know also it will come with some measure of relief for you. You’ve had a few days of him wanting you to do everything for and with him and I know you are a bit over it. You’ll be craving the break too.
I know I’ll be back
Pretty soon it will all be “Muuummy, Muuummy” again and I fully anticipate that by the time you walk through the door from work tonight, that will be the case.
When that happens, can you please remember what it was like to be the primary carer for a little while? Not that you need a lecture in stepping up, just that it will be nice to laugh about how equally touching and annoying it can be to be the favoured one.
I know he knows equal love
The other thing I want you to know is that even though our little guy likes to play favourites, I know we are equal in his heart. He’s two years old and at this age he just doesn’t know how to share his affections. He will play us off each other for a while yet, but I know we are both his biggest fans and he is ours.