Little boys get to an age where their lives no longer revolve around their mothers. They begin to understand that their fathers are actually way more fun, they’re less panicked about absolutely everything, they don’t keep dabbing on your face with spit every five minutes and they don’t ask 20 questions about everything you do, like, how was school, what did teacher say today, what did you eat, did you use the potty, etc, etc. I thought my little boy would never get to this stage, so imagine my surprise when last week he let his father into our (mine and his) circle of trust. I had been waiting and longing and praying for this moment, but I couldn’t help feel a twinge of sadness and disappointment, at the fact that I wasn’t his #1 anymore.
Liam had always been MY baby. Maybe because he was my firstborn, or perhaps it was just the bond that mothers and sons have – but I was most definitely Liam’s favourite. Hannah has always being ambivalent, and maybe it’s her inborn female guilt that won’t allow her to choose a favourite at the risk of hurting the other parent. But secretly I know her dad is her favourite and I’m ok with that! Me being Liam’s favourite used to upset his father but we soon realised that it wasn’t all fun being the favourite. In fact, it’s downright hard work being the favourite. When your child won’t let anyone else put them to bed, or feed them or change their diapers. When your child goes into Chucky-mode (that evil doll in horror movies) in the middle of the night because their dear old dad just tried to pacify them so that mum could get some rest. When your child calls out to you for EVERYTHING from asking your opinion on how he looks with his mismatched clothes and his shoes on the wrong feet, to showing you the contents of his nose. I used to resent my husband who got off scot-free every time, simply because Liam didn’t want him to help put his shoes on, or brush his teeth or sit next to him and watch hours and hours of that purple dinosaur.
Of course dad was #1 for other less stressful things, like chasing each other around in the garden, making faces at me behind my back and laughing until your juice came out of your nostrils, but the real slog, the hard graft, that’s where I was the favourite. Up until last week of course. The transition was slow, but steady. The first night Liam let his father put him to bed without calling out for me, we put it down to chance, a fluke; he had probably had a very busy day and was dog tired, so we let that pass. The second night I thought that perhaps I had made him angry, but my interrogation the following morning yielded no results. By the third and fourth night of daddy doing doo-doo duty, I came to realise that my baby was growing, and didn’t need me as much as he used to.
He lets his dad get involved in other ways too which frees up a lot of my time. With Hannah asleep and my husband seeing to Liam, I am actually quite bored in the evenings! And with the two of them doing “manly” things on the weekend and Hannah still requiring lots of day time sleep, it seems that I am able to get my groove back and can once again start enjoying the things I gave up for motherhood. A luxurious bath or shower while dad does the evening shift, watching my favourite tv series which I had to put on ice because it coincided with the bed and bath time routine. Nursing a cup of coffee, instead of gulping it down while scalding my epiglottis, to get to my son who needed me NOW. Sitting on the phone and having a girly catch up without Liam demanding to say hello to whoever I was talking to. Yes, I could enjoy this!
So while I feel somewhat melancholy at the prospect of adjusting my apron strings to give Liam just a bit of leeway to discover life outside of our little bubble, I must admit I feel a certain degree of euphoria at been able to do non-mom things again, even if I have to do them with the baby monitor in my pocket, just in case I’m needed back at the ranch by one of my little lambs.