It used to be me who asked.
After hours of feeding, wiping, changing, bathing and feeding again, I’d look up at the clock and mumble with gritted teeth, “When will Daddy be home?”
In the early days, it was hard. I did everything I could to be a fun mommy. I set up a little grocery store in the living room for my boys, complete with price tags and pretend money. I ran the best restaurant in town right in my kitchen, where I gave each kid a menu and let them circle pictures of what they wanted for lunch. I took them to the zoo and to tons of parks and gave them chalk and bubbles to play outside as often as they liked. I loved my days with my kids, but often by the time evening came, I was completely mommied out.
I’d hear the garage door and grab my headphones or purse, and as soon as Daddy walked in, I’d walk out. I’d take a walk or a drive or just go to the store without a little person asking me a million questions. I craved silence.
Daddy, on the other hand, had been sitting in a quiet office all day or on a plane for hours and couldn’t wait to see the kids. He’d come in and ask the boys about their day, and he’d scoop up the baby and make her giggle. And within a couple hours, he’d call me and tell me everyone was wondering when I’d be home.
“Isaac said you promised you’d finish Magic Treehouse tonight.”
“Alex said he wants you to lay by him.”
“Anna won’t take a bottle.”
I didn’t want them to want me ALL THE TIME. I didn’t want to take care of everything and everybody. I wanted them to be okay with their dad for more than an hour or two.
Fast forward to just a few years later, and they are the ones who are asking where he is. Usually around dinner time, but sometimes as soon as they get home from school.
“When will Dad be home?”
The boys don’t talk to me as much as they used to. They wait until he comes in, and then tell him about something awesome they saw on the MLB station, or they tell him what happened at school. And all three kids wait until he’s home to ask for help with their homework.
Maybe it’s because I have so much on my mind all the time that it’s hard to focus on what they have to say. My job is to get their uniforms washed, buy them the snacks they request, plan dinner, and run them to practices or games. I often snap at them when they’re arguing while I’m trying to figure out how who is getting where at what time. Sometimes I’m just a mean robot who takes care of their stuff and gets them to where they need to go. Sometimes I’m not the fun one any more.
It doesn’t seem fair to me that for so long I put in so much time with them, yet he’s the one they prefer. He knows sports and I don’t. He’s good at math and I’m not. He keeps his cool, and sometimes I just can’t.
I wonder if just because I’m not as much fun as I used to be, he’ll be their favorite forever.
The closeness my kids have with their dad is something I know many kids crave. My daughter looks at her daddy and my heart just melts. My boys laugh at him and I can’t help but smile. He encourages them every day to be everything they want to be, and there’s nothing about that that I would change.
So is my little bout of jealousy a little silly? Yes. But it’s something that I wonder if every mom goes through at some point. Moms are tough. Dads are fun. Guess we’ll go eat some worms.
I don’t know how long I’ll continue to complain about not being the favorite. It could be a while, but that’s okay, because now and then something happens that tells me it could be worse.
On Mother’s Day, I walked into my mom’s house and saw two huge bouquets of flowers sitting on the counter. One card was from my husband to my mom, thanking her for being a wonderful grandmother. The other was from my oldest son to me. His read, “Mom, thank you for always being there for me.”
My kids respect their dad, and he teaches them to respect me. They could not have a better role model.
Some day when my boys are parents, and their kids want help with homework or a gift idea for their mom, my boys are going to give it. And I apologize to their wives in advance, because they might just end up being your kids’ favorites.