“Daddy’s Girl” “Momma’s Boy”
These are terms that we hear all the time as Moms, but it’s not always that cut and dry.
When my daughter was born, my husband was working full time and getting his MBA, which means we saw him sometimes on Friday nights if he wasn’t traveling for work. It was rough, but, as a first time Mom, I didn’t know any other way. Solo parenting was the norm for me at the time. I ended up quitting my job and becoming a stay-at-home mom full time at that point. My husband and I had always dreamt of having a little girl. He was one of three boys, and was convinced he would have 3 girls when it was his turn. Along with that dream came the dream that his daughter would be a total “Daddy’s girl”. But, partially because of our circumstances, that wasn’t our reality. Our baby girl wanted Mamma only from the very beginning. Her first sentence was, “No Daddy, Mommy do it.” It’s probably very common in a situation like ours, but it doesn’t make it any easier on the parent who isn’t the chosen one.
When we found out we were having a son, everyone (and I mean everyone) said to us, “Oh, little boys just love their Mommies!” to which hubby said in his head (in the voice of the Tony the Tiger)”Grrreat, another little person to choose Mommy over me.” To say the least, it’s hard feeling like the lowest man on the totem pole in the family. I should know, because it happened to me, too.
Our sweet daughter had been waiting for what she termed “FOREVERZ” for her baby brother to be born and come home with us. She was beyond excited! And I couldn’t wait to have us all under one roof and learning how to be a family of four. What I didn’t see coming was her complete and utter shunning of me. She wanted nothing to do with me. Nothing. Didn’t want hugs, didn’t want me to read her books at night (which we had been doing every night since her birth), didn’t want me to get her a snack, or make her a sandwich or even look her direction sometimes. It was beyond crushing.
I had to wonder: Was this what poor hubby had been feeling for all of these years? How does he even cope? It’s truly awful to be the one not chosen. It gave me a healthy dose of empathy for him, and gave me some insight into how to move forward during times when the kids are playing favorites.
Here are my tips for how to navigate when: YOUR PARTNER isn’t the current “chosen one”
- Have empathy…like tons of it.
- Show your kiddos that you like your partner more than you do them, even if it’s hard to feel that way sometimes. They need to see you loving on that person and not just them.
- Ask your children to treat your partner the way they would want to be treated. Role play if you have to.
- Plan special 1×1 times for your partner & kids. Memory making stuff. Think of them, plan them and, for goodness sake, stay at home, even though you’d love to tag along.
- Make homecomings a big deal. If your significant other works outside of the home or travels, make their homecomings a game for the kids. See who can give them biggest hug, who can get there first. Keep score, make it fun. Soon it’s like second nature and that little bit of attention might just get them through the night.
Here are my tips for how to navigate when: YOU aren’t the current “chosen one”
- Give yourself grace and space. Tell yourself it’s not forever. Remind yourself that things change and take the opportunity to do all the stuff you never got a chance to do when the kids were all about you…like take a bath – a long wonderful bath.
- Do not take in personally. HA, yea right. You totally take it personally. It feels totally personal. Like in the movie You’ve Got Mail….“But it’s personal to me!” Try to remember, they are loving on the person that you love, too.
- Don’t exclude back. It’s very possible that I am the only person capable of this horrible idea, but when my little girl was shunning me I sort of was like,” Hey you don’t want me? Fine, I don’t need you either.” It plays out like a stupid scene from middle school, and your little ones have no clue what’s going on. It can make them pull even farther away from you. Put your big kid panties on, suck it up, smile, give hugs and wait it out
I honestly hope it never happens to any of you, and that your significant others and yourselves are equally loved in your home. But if not, know it’s a season and it passes back and forth swiftly.
One last thought: When we were pregnant with our second kiddo, my husband asked his Dad (who has zero filter) which one of his 3 boys was his favorite. He replied with the best answer ever:
“Each one of you boys was my most favorite and least favorite at different times, and there were times when I didn’t like any of you guys.”
I bet that goes for kids, too. There will be times when they won’t like either of us, but that’s a blog for another day.