Our kids all do it: ask for one parent or the other at certain times. Mine often ask for daddy when mommy sends them to time out (or vise versa). My all time favorite was when my youngest would ask me for a snack or something they really wanted. I would say no. Immediately after, they would turn to daddy, who was sitting across from me, and “tell on me”. “Mommy said no to ________.” It appeared as though they were trying to get one of us to break by throwing the other one under the bus. We’d laugh, and my husband would reinforce what I had already said. Regardless of why they do what they do, when they ask for one parent over the other, it can seem like they are choosing you for a reason. And as a result, it can make you feel a teeny bit bad, in spite of yourself.
As my children began their lives attached to my breasts, it was nice to feel wanted and loved above everyone else. Although we did offer bottles at times, I still felt like top dog because I was the primary food source. That closeness made me feel amazing. When we had to transition then off of breastmilk, I still felt the same way because although they didn’t need only me anymore, the feeling was still there. After sharing 9 months in the womb and then the first few weeks/months of life as their food source left a lasting nurturing feeling for me.
Now that our kids are older, they are able to verbalize more who they want to be with/play with/change their diapers. The last one on this list is always the best. My husband, in an attempt to try to get out of changing dirty diapers, would say, “Who do you want to change your diaper? Daddy or mommy?” He would always try to say my name louder and last to hopefully guide them to choose me, and it sometimes worked. But not always. Lately, I have noticed a growing desire for daddy. Maybe its because he works late sometimes, or because they spend a lot of time with me over the summer. My youngest spent the day today at daycare inconsolable, asking and crying for daddy. My eldest will often ask me if daddy will be home when get home from daycare, and seems very sad when I reply with a no. They both jump up when he gets home, running to him and screaming his name! It’s very sweet, but then when everything is “I want daddy” or “where’s daddy?”, it can get a little disheartening.
My two are still too young to ask why, although I’m not sure I want the answer. I suppose if they answered “mommy is mean” or “mommy doesn’t let me do anything” that might make me feel bad about myself. Then again, maybe not. I don’t want to be their friend, I want to be their mom, their disciplinarian, their caregiver. If I am not viewed as mean or tough, how can I be that? I am sure to not back down or give in, and although I know daddy doesn’t either, he might have a different way of dealing with things in general. His nature is more laid back than mine, and maybe the kids can sense that. Could that be why they seem to prefer him over me at times? They would rather the easy-going parent? Since I can’t get a true answer out of them, I can’t really ask. Yet.
There have been times that daddy tries to gently suggest the kids to come to me, have me do something I really want to do with them, rather than him. “Why don’t you see if mommy wants to do that for you?” When the answer is no, or a sweet smile with “I want daddy” attached, I try not to be upset or jealous. Really I do. But it’s hard not to feel a little twinge of something when you hear that. I usually shrug it off, and just take it as extra time for me to be by myself because they want daddy over me. Got to take the mommy time where I can get it, I suppose. And when they come back and want me to cuddle or “pick me up” as my little one whines, it’s all the more sweet to mommy’s ears.