Saturday, February 20, 2010

Playing Favorites

My parents may tell me differently, but I don't recall having a favourite parent when I was a little kid. I do recall preferring to go to the mall with my father, however, because he could always be persuaded to take me to Marks and Spencer to buy a bag of licorice allsorts or wine gums which we would joyfully share together. My mother wasn't always as willing. If my parents favoured my brother or I, they hid it well and I would say they did a fairly good job of appreciating our differing strengths and weaknesses.

But playing favorites in our family seems to have become the norm. And no, I don't mean Adam and I have a favorite child. I mean our children play favorites. Big A seemed to like us equally until she was about 18 months old. Even though I nourished her from my own body, she never really preferred me to Adam. But from about 18 months until about 2 months ago, she overtly preferred Adam. And believe me, this is not insecurity on my part making me see things a certain way. I can't count how many times I walked into a room and was told by her, "Go away mommy, we don't want you here!" She would also tell other people that daddy was her favorite. But the worst occurred after Little A was born. Adam was home the first 6 weeks while I recovered from my c-section to take her to daycare everyday. This was the first time in her life that he was home in the mornings when she woke up on a regular basis. When I resumed the duty of daycare drop-off and Adam began leaving for work before she would wake up, chaos ensued. When she would call for him in the morning and I would open her door, she would fly into a rage and become sullen and uncooperative because I was not daddy. Sometimes she would snap out of it quickly, other times the whole morning was a misery. This went on for some months and was very trying to deal with while I also got used to managing an infant at the same time. I tried not to take this all personally but it really did start to wear me down. Was I really such a bad parent?

Gradually, over the past few months, however, things have started to turn around. Big A is so much more affectionate with me. She always tells me she loves me and asks for, and gives, lots of hugs and kisses. She also requests me now, quite often, to give her a bath, sit with her, cuddle, over daddy. I love it and I admit, I am also relieved. I fully expect her to hate me as a teenager but I hope to have at least a few years of love between us before that point.

Little A, on the other hand, has been a momma's girl from day one. But I am learning that this too, has its drawbacks. Even if she is playing with Adam, she whimpers if I leave the room. At almost 10 months, she will rarely ever let anyone else hold her. If Adam is not around, I cannot, under any circumstance, leave the room for even a split second, without her becoming absolutely hysterical. I am starting to worry that when we put her in child care in April, she will be truly traumatized. And so, of course, this is yet another issue I obsess and worry about. Yet, rationally, I know that things will even out eventually. Just ast they did with Big A. You can't stop your kids from hating you during adolescence, from what I hear, and I suppose you cannot stop them from loving you either. Which is not such a bad thing in the end.

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