Now, I am of course delighted that my children have a great relationship with their dad, it is how it should be. And I know there have been many times when I have been the ‘preferred parent’ and how well my husband has always taken it. I know that our children get different things from both of us, and so it stands to reason that sometimes they will display a leaning towards him or me.
EXCEPT IT’S NEVER ME AT THE MOMENT! EVER!
All completely unprompted highlights from the last week include:
‘I want Daddy! When is he home? Is it in three seconds? Is it in four minutes? Is it any second now?’ (He wasn’t home for another three hours – joy.)
‘Daddy is the best at playing! Daddy, you are so much better at playing than Mummy, you are the best player in the whole world.’ (Not that sort of player. Obviously.)
‘I want to be wherever Daddy is, all the time.’ (He was in the shower, whereas I was fully available.)
‘I miss Daddy! I wish Daddy was here for half-term instead.’
And in response to me finally asking, while fighting back those awful ugly rejection tears from my early 20s, which make my face go all red, ‘What about Mummy? What’s wrong with doing something with me?’
*Big sigh* ‘I’m with you all day, Mummy! I see you ALL the time!’
But he doesn’t.
He does see me for two hours and forty-five minutes more than he sees my husband, from 330 PM until 615 PM. But one hour of that is spent scooting home with friends, pausing and diverting at every possible opportunity; to play Hide & Seek, to walk on a wall, to cover each other with leaves, and to make potions from mud, sticks and non-edible berries. Another hour is spent sorting dinner and persuading him to sit and eat at least some of it, and the remaining 45 minutes is a mix of cleaning the kitchen while he plays with his brother and then getting them in to the bath.
It’s still nice to have this time, of course. Apart from the dinner bit – if I never had to oversee another meal again it would be too soon. I love our trips home from school, though, especially because it’s been such mild weather and we’ve been able to take our time and unwind from the day. And I also get to hear lots of lovely snippets from school in between begging him for the twelfth time to sit back down and chew his food. But it seems that this part of the weekday, for my son, ticks the ‘time with Mummy’ box, even though we’re probably not getting the best of each other, and it isn’t the same as weekend fun, at all.
I’m like some comfortingly familiar old cardigan, which feels nice to wear in the week when tired and lying around the house, but which you wouldn’t dream of being seen out in come Party Saturday.
I am kind of longing to be the preferred parent at least occasionally.
In response to his snubs, I generally react quite well. On the surface. I smile, agreeing, ‘Oh yes, it will be lovely to play with Daddy all day!’ And ‘Oh, haha, that is a funny joke about no mummies being allowed in the den. HAHAHA.’
In my head, of course, I rage and seethe, and curse my malfunctioning pelvic floor, poor memory and sad wonky breasts, all of which were sacrificed in the name of carrying, delivering and nurturing him.
‘It’s OK,’ I whisper to myself, a little manically. ‘I’ll be back… he’ll need me again soon, I’ll make sure of it… enjoy your moment, Daddy.’
And then I realise, actually, if my husband is the one in the spotlight, I get to enjoy a bit of time for me. And I put on my old, soft and sagging (but still beautiful) cardigan and enjoy a hot cup of tea all by myself. So swings and roundabouts I guess.