Friday, May 13, 2011

The Less Popular Parent

I have long suspected that I was the less popular parent in this house. There were little signs before, like the girls' enthusiasm when B.Rube comes home, or them insisting that he tuck them in or read their bedtime story instead of me.  I enjoyed seeing it, appreciated the bit of free time it sometimes gave me, and had never reflected it back upon myself....until this past week....when S. Rube actually made me cry.

I snuck off to the laundry room and fought back tears amidst the pile of whites, and tried not to inhale the stinky litter box fumes beside me. Damn it.

It went something like this:

J - So, Daddy and I are both going to your soccer games tonight and they're at the same time, so we'll each watch 1/2 of each of your games. I'll watch 1/2 of yours and then Daddy and I will switch, and I'll watch 1/2 of T.Rube's...

(before I could finish my sentence, S.Rube bursts energetically out with:)

J - okay, well, I'll start with T and Dad can start with you.

S - No, I want Daddy to watch ALLLLLL of my game!

J - No, he can't. It's only fair if we split it up. And I really want to see you play too. And I'm sure that T wants Daddy to see her play.

(her now with an exaggerated pouty face that has never worked on me but still she tries:)
S - ohhhhhhh, but I want Daddy to watch the whole thing.

(now me with one eyebrow slightly raised and a bit of a snarky tone to my voice:)
J - Why??  Why don't you want me to watch you? Do you love him more than me or what??

(her without ANY hesitation or even a breath whatsoever:)

(me with eyes wide and mouth agape:)
J - What??? Are you serious?? Did you really just say that?

(her with horror in her eyes as realization of what she said sinks in:)
S - well....well....well....

(her wheels are spinning as she tries quickly and desperately to undo what she has just said, thereby saving herself and me:)
S - .... well... just a little bit.

Oh my God, her honesty kills me.

All I can answer back with is a less-than-enthusiastic "wow" as I am already getting up to retreat to the laundry room and fighting back the blurriness that is quickly forming in my vision.

It's the truth, you know. In her limited understanding of love at this point in her game, it is the truth. Yeah, she loves me. Yeah, she misses me when I'm away. Of course she does. Because I'm the one she's always with, so it must just seem odd when I'm not here.  But, she loves her time with her Dad more than she can appreciate her time with me.
And, for her, that equates love.

The longer I stood on the mound of dirty clothes, the more resentful I got. (and, yes, I'm quite certain that hormones were playing a bit of a role in this).  The job I do here, the hours I put in, the stress of feeling like I'm planning, organizing, implementing and otherwise holding it all together for everyone, is TOTALLY taken for granted. I am just the nag, the cook, the laundress, the cleaner, the slave, the driver, the slavedriver... shit that mothers have long since known and complained about. The irony that I was standing in the laundry room did not escape me at this moment....

And then....wooohoooooooo....Dad comes in! DADDYYYYY!!!!! It's time for wrestling, movies, card games, tickles, and snuggles. FUN FUN FUN!!! Of course they 'love' him more. He's like the circus arriving to the boring small town on that hot July weekend every year. More fun than a whole fucking Mini stuffed with clowns. He might as well be bringing home cotton candy every time he walks in the door.

So, I reflected, felt a bit sorry for myself, reflected still, threw a load of laundry in and reflected some more. Then came up with a few goals.
1) That I spend more time away, and really make 'em miss me!
2) That I let B.Rube step up to do the dirty work waaaaaay more often than I expect him to now.
3) And, most importantly, that I nag less and play more, all whilst maintaining my fine balancing act with a smile on my face.


Martha said...

Oh J!! I may have teared up for you a bit reading that! I'm sorry you had to feel that way!
And now, i dont want to discount the contribution dads make ( my usual non-judgmental/non-committal/sitting-on-the-fence-kind-of-way), but you are the more 'important,' more vital parent at this point...but you're right, kids can't possibly understand this, and it's not like we can ask them to imagine life without one of us, and really think about who they'd rather survive in a both-hanging-off-a-cliff kind of scenario. Can we??

Thelma said...

Woe, J.!

Brutal honesty, indeed little Miss. S!

As you logically determined, you are NOT the clowns in the car. You are far too stylish for that my friend.
I wonder, if asked, how S. would define "love".

Hormone-balancing hugs from across the many miles.

(If it's any consolation, this blog entry is written beautifully)

Anonymous said...


Wish I was there to give you a hug. (If yu would accept it) lol....

Kay, so I love how you worked through it....I love that you were able to understand her point of view....I love that you made some goals for yourself.

It is very typical for dad's to be the hero, as their main roles tend to be, 1. bring home the money 2. mr. fixit 3. and be the fun guy.

I totally get how you felt about all your hard work being overlooked. Honest.

But may I just say... your first mistake was asking the question. (Do you love daddy more?)

May I also remind you, you are everything to your girls. And no way do they love one more than the other. Just differently.


Mayan_Love_Goddess said...

Kids are brutally honest when asked. Sorry that this happened, but I'm glad you were able to put it into perspective.

I totally get how you feel. Even more so as I go through my separation and divorce. The kids are with me most of the time (80%), so they get a sleep over here & there and you can bet your $$ that he shows them the best time possible.

Being a single-mom now, I have to work 5 times as hard at not being a nag, etc. I have let some of the chores go in favour of spending more time with the kids and I make sure it's quality time.

AppleTree 43 said...

I read this the other day, and it's been on my mind ever since.
Motherhood, they didn't write about this in that book "what to expect....".
Sometimes when I find I'm nagging Molly a lot...or seem to be always saying "NO", or "Stop", etc...I catch myself and then plan something fun.
One of my favorites is Living Room Camp Night. We blew up our camping air mattress's, brought every stuffed animal down, popcorn, a movie and we slept in the living room for a "Molly and Mom" slumber party. It was awesome.
Something so simple.......goes a long way.
Anyway.....that's my two cents.
You are a wonderful Mother, never doubt that.

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