How it Feels When You’re NOT the Preferred Parent

Like most parents, I had a wildly exaggerated notion of what it would be like to be a mother. I knew my off spring would have the potential to be little horrors’ (I had young nephews at the time and had witnessed their work first hand). But whether they were whacking each other, drawing on the walls, or having the world’s loudest tantrum, what I believed my kids would always have in bucket loads is love for me – their mum.

When the kids were tired they would come to me for cuddles, when they scrapped their knee I would kiss it better. They would want their mummy to tuck them into bed and kiss them good night. And whilst this is true for some of the time, there is another guy on the scene who is almost always guaranteed to steal the kids’ affections…Daddy.

This shouldn’t really be a surprise; he does own a bloody ice cream factory. He’s the Willy Wonka of the ice cream world. But he is also patient when I’m losing the plot, the King of the shoulder carry, and always the one to dish out the extra biscuit. He is, in short, the preferred parent and, at least in my kids eyes, for good reason.

But this isn’t a new thing. There was a time when Coco was younger she used to refer to my husband as her “Special Mummy.” Now Raffy has well and truly picked up the mantel, telling me approximately 100 times per day, “I want DADDY!” and screaming his disapproval when I dare to enter a room.

A good example is on recent holiday to Paris when both kids refused to share a bed with me (we had two doubles). Instead the little angels insisted on sleeping with daddy (I know they should have been sleeping in their own room, just don’t tell bloody Gina) and I went to bed on my own – whilst plotting my flight home.

I did stick it out in Paris, and when I’m in a good mood I can brush off their blatant favouritism. Putting it down as a phase they will soon grow out of. But at other times, I find it nothing short of heartbreaking. I dread visiting family and friends, knowing at some point during the day I will have to hide my hurt and humiliation as Raffy refuses to be held by me, choosing to go to my husband instead. That I will have to bat off well meaning comments of how my son is a “daddy’s boy” with a chuckle and eye roll, as they attempt to explain his behaviour. Like I haven’t heard it before.

We have often pondered over why the kids would react this way. Could it be my husband’s long seasonal hours, meaning where he’s rarely seen in the summer and around a lot more in the winter? Particularly when, by comparison, I am always hanging around like a bad smell? Or the fact he essentially became their comforter when at 12 months when I couldn’t bare to breast feed any longer? I’m sure a child specialist would know.

But for the meantime, I have no choice but to suck it up. To remind myself that it will soon stop, and that despite how the little monkeys behave, I am a good, fun, albeit somewhat shouty, mum who loves her kids. And most importantly, that they’re lucky to have such a brilliant dad.

And the next time the kids leave me with a double bed to myself, I won’t waste my time worrying. I will spread out like a smug starfish whilst my husband gets kicked in the face by tiny feet and do the best thing of all…SLEEP.

Gemma x





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