If parenting a toddler isn’t humbling, I don’t know what is. Two days ago, I sustained minor injuries while trying to keep up with mine on the playground. This morning, my son woke me up by politely saying “garbage truck,” whatever that means. And, lastly, over the last few weeks my kid has shown a definite preference for his dad, and the struggles of your kid liking your partner more than you is very, very, real.
At first, I was touched. It’s beyond adorable to see our son reach for his dad so enthusiastically and consistently. My husband and I both have fairly flexible work schedules, which means we spend a lot of time together as a family (even if one of us is on a laptop or checking email at the time because that still counts, right?). It also means that we keep things pretty equal when it comes to parenting duties and chores and household work and all that jazz. So, somewhere along the way, my son figured out that his dad is way more fun than me. Um, ouch son.
I’m not at all saying that he’s a better parent or that there’s anything wrong with my mothering, it just appears that our toddler is into having fun these days (go figure) so, here I am, left out in the cold. Or technically, left in the warm house while they go outside to play. But it’s cool, I can use that time to catch up on laundry and chores and general frivolity so, I guess it’s sort of a win? I don't know. I haven't really figured out how I feel about it. It's kind of awesome because I do get time to myself, but it's also kind of hurtful because I carried my son in my own body for 40+ weeks so, you know, what gives?!
As you can tell, there are a number of challenges that go along with this current stage of my kid liking my partner more than me. Here are just a few, because I've learned that if I don't talk about it I might just cry about it.
You Find Their Bond To The Other Parent So Adorable That You Turn To Mush
I mean, who doesn't like seeing their loved ones being all cute together? Our son is nearly two years old, and one of my favorite sights (still) is of him in his dad's arms.
You Feel Super Jealous Of Their Tight Relationship
Okay, but jealous in a good way, if that's possible. Like, logically I know that our toddler will go through so many developmental phases and that his needs will be constantly changing and that he'll seek out his dad and I for different reasons. But, still, sometimes I wish for more living room dance parties with him.
Actually, You Find It Nice To Have A Few Extra Minutes To Chill While They Do Their Thing
Twitter is not going to check itself, guys.
You Run Out Of Room On Your Phone Because You've Taken So Many Pictures Of Their Cuteness
At the very least, it's pleasant to have such a stocked photo roll with so many happy smiles. I just kinda wish I was in some of the pictures.
You Feel Super Left Out
It goes back to elementary school when you got picked last for kickball. Except this time, it's not kickball, it's familial relationships and that's arguably much, much worse.
You Try Not To Take It Personally...
Easier said than done. One can always try, right?
...But You Definitely Take It Personally
Seriously, how do you not take it personally when your child reaches for someone else? Especially when you housed them in your body and you either pushed them or had them cut from your persona you spent countless hours either breastfeeding or bottle feeding them. Does my kid not remember any of this stuff?!
You Conduct A Deep Dive Exploration Of What Could Possibly Be Going On
Was it something I did? Something I didn't do? Does this have to do with breastfeeding? The fact that my partner has bigger hands that feel more secure so my kid feels safer with them than with me? The fact that we dress our son like a mini-version of his dad? The sky's the limit.
You Research Every Possible Scenario You Can Think Of
You Consider Bribing Your Child For Their Affections
Stickers are currency to my toddler, you guys. That's all I'm going to say.
You Give Yourself Rehearsed Mental Pep Talks
My partner is getting quite accustomed to a deep sigh, followed by ten seconds of silence as I bite my lip and remind myself that, "This is okay, this is okay, this is OKAY. THIS IS OKAY."
You FINALLY Figure Out What's Actually Going On
Here's the thing: once we finally started to look closely at our son's patterns, we saw that he did indeed still seem to ask for me at certain parts of the day. Specifically, when he was tired and wanting snuggles or wasn't feeling particularly well or needed comfort of some kind. So, it appears that his dad is officially the "fun" parent who is slightly more generous with snacks (things our son wants during most of his waking hours), while I can still swoop in for quieter times. We're still getting used to these identities, but mine certainly suits me better than, "dejected mom on the sidelines," so I'm embracing it.