As far as my kids are concerned, it’s all about me. If we go to the movies, they fight over who gets to sit in my lap. If we go out to dinner, they fight over who gets to sit next to me. At night, after they take a bath, they fight over which of them I am going to put to bed. It’s almost as if my husband doesn’t exist – well, okay, it’s not quite that bad. Perhaps a better analogy would be that it’s almost as if my husband is a scoop of vanilla in a house full of chocolate lovers; acceptable as a last resort, but certainly not the first choice.
Of course, I feel bad for my husband. I know it hurts his feelings that the kids never fight over him, and I know how much he hates being low man on the totem pole; placing after me, after the nanny, probably even after the dog. I try to protect him as much as I can – I don’t tell him that the kids cry if I have to go out and he’s going to stay home with them. And I certainly don’t tell him that my daughter has secretly told me that she loves me THIS much (arms spread open wide), but that she only loves daddy this much (hands spread about a foot apart). But, then again, if I’m being totally honest here, I will admit that there is a teeny, tiny part of me that kind of likes it. Well, maybe the part is a little bit bigger than teeny tiny. It might be more like, just, I don’t know…small. Okay, fine. It’s bigger than small. It’s big. There is a very, very big part of me that likes the fact that my children prefer me over my husband. Are you happy now?
Cough, cough. Anyway, the problem is, I’ve noticed over the last several weeks that I’ve been losing some ground in the polls, and that the mommy/daddy gap is starting to narrow. For example, when my husband walks in the door, the kids actually jump up from whatever they’re doing and run to greet him, whereas before, they totally ignored him. And last night, my husband asked my son if he wanted to go see a college baseball game, just the two of them, and my son said yes, without any hesitation. Before, he would have at least asked if mommy could go, too, and he might have even stayed home if it meant leaving me. At the very least, he would have needed me to coax him into going without me.
And there’s more. The other day, when my kids were in the tub, my daughter asked whose turn it was to put her to bed. I told her it was daddy’s turn, and she actually pumped her fist and said, yessss! Which almost completely sent me running for a glass of wine, because normally, she would have argued for twenty minutes about how it was really my turn for her, and when I would insist that, no, it was daddy’s turn, she would have stuck out her lower lip in an extra-big pout, just to prove how disappointed she was about this state of affairs. And THEN, at bedtime, the little traitor informed him that she used to love me THIS much more than him (spreading her arms open wide), but now, she only loves me this much more than him (spreading her fingers apart about an inch). Which I know because my husband told me, with much fanfare, after he emerged from her bedroom, beaming. Which really wasn’t very nice. I mean, I never gloated about just how big my lead was. And even if the part of me that likes being the front-runner is way bigger than it should be, it’s not like I ever let him know that. But apparently, daddies are not so gracious.
For the record, I attribute my declining status entirely to sports. It’s sneaky, what he did. He sat on the sidelines all these years, letting me do all the boring, hard stuff – breastfeeding, diapers, mommy and me classes, preschool transition, and then, the second they’re old enough to participate in team sports, he swoops in and coaches three teams at once, and BOOM! it turns into a freakin’ daddypalooza love fest. And yeah, I know that I should be happy for him. I know how much it upset him, the way they treated him before, and that I should be glad that he’s finally registering with them. And of course, I know that they’re half his, and I know that it’s healthy for them to love both of us equally, just like I love both of them equally. And plus, it will probably make my life easier if they’re not always fighting over me. I know. I KNOW. But that not so small part of me…well, it never got the memo.