Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Less Than

Every night we take turns reading to the kids.  


I read to The Rooster when K reads to the Mayor and vice versa.

Without fail, The Mayor is always disappointed when it is my turn to read to him.

He prefers his Father and he is not shy about making that clear.

Tonight, after I read our customary three books to The Mayor (and then some), he said,

"Dad will read to me tomorrow night, right?"

I looked wearily at my son.

"Mayor, why don't you like it when I read to you?" I asked in earnest.

He studied my face.

"Well," he said.  "I do like it a little bit when you read to me."

"What don't you like about it, Mayor? Am I doing something wrong?"

"No... it's just that when Daddy reads I like it a little bit better."

"What does he do that you like better?" I asked.

The Mayor paused, studying me. 

He seemed to measure his words.

"Well, I just love him a little bit more, Mama."

The color must have drained from my face.

"It's just a tiny bit more, Mom," he said gently.

Reaching up as high as he could, he said 

"I love him this much." 

Then he lowered his hand some. 

"And I love you this much." 

I pushed everything down and back and under.

"Time for bed now," I said.

After I tucked him in, I had to lie on my bed and cover my head with my pillow.

The squeezing sensation in my chest felt like someone was trying to fit my heart into a box much too small to contain it.




57 comments:

Loth said...

Gah! I have two boys, aged 10 and 8 now and I am clearly and unequivocally second best. I am still useful (I make good cookies) but it is their dad they want to spend time with. They like to have him come into their room just before bedtime and sit on their floor and discuss "boy stuff" with the lights off. It is known as "Daddy in the dark" I am excluded. I know this is normal, boys need to graduate to their dad but still, I miss being the one they wanted first.

Omaha Mama said...

I'm pretty sure he wasn't talking about the love, but just the like. In that, he likes dad a tiny bit more. It's that guy thing that we'll never understand.

Little Monkies said...

I was talking to our friend Lynn this weekend and she said that of all of the conflict and heartache that she sees in her work, a lot of it's caused by a dissonance between mothers and sons. I think Mayor has supreme confidence in your love and that Omaha Mama is speaking the truth. It doesn't make it any less painful, but I know years from now your son will be resilient and strong because of your bond.

Love you.

LadyBugCrossing said...

They might like daddy to play and read and do fun stuff, but when the going gets tough, the tough run to Mom.
'nuf said.
xo
LBC

slouching mom said...

oh babe. this has happened to me. and, more importantly, this has happened to my husband.

children are fickle. they switch affections easily and frequently.

i'm sorry you're sad. but i do think time will prove this to be less a blow than a blip.

Angela said...

I also have a little boy(7) and a husband who is an amazing father...it doesn't make it hurt any less, but I know in my heart that the love is different, NOT more or less, just different and I agree with Omaha Mama that it is "the like" and a guy thing. You are an amazing Mom, that much is quite clear and true.

Magpie said...

Ouch. But, yes, they are fickle little things. And they have a hard time getting out of tight spots.

Joie said...

Oh, my heart aches right there with you. Even with little Patrick being only 2 it is clear daddy is the one to play with, to put to bed, to allow more rough play in the bath than I could possibly stand. But when he is hurting he wants his mommy. I agree with other comments, it's more like than love.

furiousBall said...

this breaks my heart too. but, i am so happy to hear about BOTH parents that participate in reading to the kiddos

Joie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NotAMeanGirl said...

Oh Jess... my heart is breaking for you. My 8 year old Shecky is the same way with his Dad. I'm the tough one. The one that pushes homework and chores and veggies. Daddy is the fun one and the one he wants to spend his spare time with. It sucks, majorly. The only way I keep my heart in one piece? I keep reminding myself I'm the one he'll turn to when he NEEDS something and when he gets older... he'll recognize the gifts I gave him by being the tough one instead of just the fun one. :) Hugs to you sweet one!

Debbie said...

Id like to give you a little hug right now. No matter that you know what he meant and it is all great that hubby is so involved, that sting is still there.

naginata said...

From a long time reader, infrequent commenter, I just wanted to say how much I admire your strength in putting stuff like this (that hurts so much but is so TRUE) out here. It makes the times that we go through the same hurt feel a bit better in that we know we are not alone.
Hugs and sympathy from me.
I just realized we are in the same city so if you ever need some tea/coffee and the distraction of another 4 year old, you should give me a call!

Patois said...

I don't think I can tell you anything that you don't already intellectually know. So I will just say that pendelums move. I've been sorry to see them move on occasion and I've been happy to see them move at other times.

3carnations said...

Oof. He loves you every bit as much, and you must know that...Mommys and Daddys seem to have different "uses". My son needed a piece of paper taped, and he walked right past hubby's outstretched hand and claim of "I'll do it for you" to have me do it. When it's time to be rowdy, he knows I'm not as fun and Daddy is the first choice. But I know he loves us the same. :)

MamaCarter said...

Oh my heart is shrinking as I read this. See, Monkey prefers me to Daddy, and it breaks his heart. I'm going to send him your post. Let him know he's not alone.

Mel said...

Oh, my friend. That sent a knife into my belly just to read it.

Even so, I can honestly say that with my two, their love-levels have varied between the husband and me many, many times over the years. From day to day, even.

One day the Mack thinks I am a goddess and the next she wants nobody but Daddy. At the same time, Really Rosie hates my guts and her dad is the most awesome person in all the land - then the next day he's a blundering buffoon and only Mom can truly understand her.

It all works out in the end. It just hurts me to know you were hurt.

Anybody who says kids' honesty is unbrokenly charming and refreshing has never had a situation like this one.

(((((((((((((((You)))))))))))

TZT said...

Aw. I've read many things that say young children have these developmental periods where they prefer one parent over the other and express it, but I'm sure that doesn't make the feeling any easier.

My son has just started preschool, and I keep trying to reassure myself that we're connected with a strong emotional bungee cord. Sometimes he's going to run to see how long I'll let him go, and someday I imagine he'll run out to its limit and see if it snaps. And I believe with everything that I am that it can't.

Anonymous said...

My 9 year old adores his momma. I believe it to be that he is so much like his dad that there is a personality conflict. My baby however is a daddy's boy. Its a nice balance but it still stabs a little. I wonder though as the boys age into teens if mom may be the safe haven they need as they search for their manhood. I am sure you will see shifts in affection as the years pass by. There is a reason people have two parents, there is a need for both even if we don't see it in the present moment.

Nicole from Arlington, WA

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Oh Jessica, I know your pain. I'm sending hugs. It sucks when they are so brutally honest.

Beck said...

Geez. I am curled up on the floor in the fetal position for your sake. Yeouch.

But kids are fickle little creeps. My daughter has told me many times that she MUCH prefers many other people to me. Too bad, so sad, bratface.

Steph said...

I'm second best too....and I posted about it today. Maybe we are all feeling similar. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. Though it doesn't make you feel any better.
They love us most and don't even know it!

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

I know others have said it, but it's not like it sounded. My son has favored me at times and then his dad. Right now Dad has to put him to bed or life is a disaster. Mayor was using the words he knew to express something that is actually very different. But I'm sorry. I know how it feels.

Sugarplum's Mom said...

Oh I would have burst into tears right there on the spot.

heels said...

I'm sure he meant something a little different than how it felt to you, but oohhhh... gut punch. Ouch.

Rusti said...

ohhhhh that makes me want to cry right now (darn hormones!) I'm sorry that your feelings were hurt, but I bet it's just a stage he's going through... boys always love their mama's best I think - once they realize just how much their mama's do for them that is... hang in there Jess, this phase will pass and he will soon be telling K that he loves YOU more...

{HUGS}

Jesse said...

I am so sorry. I know he didn't really mean it. But it must have hurt desperately all the same.

kattastropheann said...

My 13 year old daughter has recently started telling me that I am in the 99% of the population that irritates her when I don't do something her way. It seems to hurt so much more when they are small. Now I just roll my eyes at her for a change...

Cat, Galloping said...

It's the same around here. It's definitely evened out a little, but dad still dominates and it's hard. I remember him rejecting me while I was miscarrying earlier this year and again after this week's bad news and it's just... hard.

I know he loves me. He just loves A a teeny bit more.

Shannon said...

Ohhhhh. It is so hard to not be loved equally.

My oldest used to prefer me when he was an infant through preschool. He would shy away from my husband and wouldn't want anything to do with him. I could see the hurt and disappointment in my husband's face.

As he got older, he preferred my husband to me and still does now.

The tides may shift in your favor down the road and hopefully they shift a little more equally between mom and dad.

kittenpie said...

If he's anything like Pumpkinpie, he will switch to team Mom sometime not too far down the road. She's fickle. So when she says things like that, I tell her it's okay, she'll love me best another time.

apathy lounge said...

Maybe he just is unable to separate the fact that he identifies with his father more...from actually loving that same person more. He's young. Ah...but I know it stings. It really must.

Day Dreamer said...

That sent my heart directly into my stomach.

My two year old is at home with his dad all day and clearly loves his dad over his mom. No matter how much I cluck or tickle or play with him, he still wants dad when he hurts or cuddles to sleep.

I know how hard that was to keep it all in and not show him how much that hurt.

Great big hug to you.

Lindsay said...

Long time reader....first time poster. I just want you to know that what The Mayor said is very normal for the stage of development he is in. Boys identify with their Dads, and girls identify with their Moms at this stage. I know its hard not to take it personal though! Research Early Childhood Development Stages online for some peace of mind!

Lottifish said...

Wow. I think K needs to buy you a present to make up for this. :) Give it a week, he may just tell K the exact same thing. Kids are crazy.

Heather, Queen of Shake Shake said...

Gack! That's gotta hurt a mama's heart so bad.

Arwen said...

hug

Pgoodness said...

I am sobbing for you; that totally squeezed my heart.

Vodka Mom said...

here is what I am going to say. I WISH one of my kids had said that. That meant that Hubby was showing them his love. That he was participating. That he had finally broken the chain and treated his children with care, love and kindness.

be thankful. They will LOVE their mother. They don't always LOVE their father. you're lucky.

anna said...

Ouchie! I'm so sorry. But the thing is, that's today. Tomorrow it will be something different. Being a mommy is so tough sometimes, but you're not alone, my son goes over the moon if my husband just walks in the door, meanwhile I'm sitting up with him all night and he throws his sippy cup at me. Who knows.

QT said...

Oh, babe...

zellmer said...

Ouch! Don't worry, it'll be the opposite next week.

Wendy said...

Oh, brutal. Can't wait for the teen years when they're actually trying to get to you, eh? (just remembering MY teen years) I'm sure mine will be full of sharp quips right thru the heart when she is bigger.

I like the K should get you a gift idea, too. :)

flutter said...

I love you, does that help?

CJP said...

I have one parent that I honestly love just the slightest bit more, and always have.

At my wedding, someone close to this parent told me that although no one will openly state this, I had to know I was the favorite. (I did, just no one ever had said) My other parent favors a different child, and I know who that is.

Don't we all have a favorite? And not that I don't love the other parent, because I do. I don't think it's anyone's fault. It just is.

O is the spitting image of K. Roo is like you. I will bet she loves you just this much more.....

Grim Reality Girl said...

Ugh. Been there.... the good news is that favorite status is not permanent. Hubby and I take turns being #1 to each of our kids... I always like it more when I am 31 though.... #2 can just suck sometimes...

JCK said...

They slay us. Our children. Up, down and all around. And they test us. With their words. But, my heart aches because of your exquisite description...

Lotta said...

Thwack! I heard that hit you poor thing.

Rooster loves you. He loves you so much I guarantee it. Kid's don't have the vocabulary to talk about how they have different feelings for different people. So it came out in a painful way.

Or you could just take him out of the will.

Theresa said...

Why don't you try going on a date with your son, just you and him, maybe to a park, one-on-one. My kids used to go through this too and I would pick them up during their school lunch and take them out. It was a time to connect without anyone else in our family. It created a stronger bond and made them feel a little bit more special.

I agree with omaha mama, he was just talking about 'like' not 'love'. Being a parent can really hurt sometimes.

Jenn said...

Oh God.

Little A loves her Daddy more than me--nothing hurts like when I take her in my arms and in her little lispy voice, she says, "Where my daddy? I want him."

Astrogirl426 said...

God, the love between a parent and child. It's so complicated. And that's if you don't have other issues like alcoholism, neglect, etc. muddying up the waters.

Sometimes people (adults, too) mix up "preference" and "love". I know my parents love me and my sister equally. I also know that my dad has always preferred me, and my mom prefers my sister. I'm just more like him - I'm easier for him to understand, easier for him to get along with and like, and easier for him to parent. It doesn't make it hurt any less when you hear that from your own kid though.

You're an awesome mom for not letting it show, though. THAT is the gift you give them - your own love, and you will get it back a thousandfold through the years (besides, you will be the one he goes to when he's done something stupid and needs you to intervene with dad! :)).

alex.barlow said...

that Mayor - what an asshole.

Jennifer said...

*sigh*. And hello from another second best. Dads are just more fun. They are that much...more. Dads are the fireworks. Mamas are the steady flames. He loves you both. I know you know this. Doesn't make that ache go away, some nights.

Jan said...

My heart kind of feels the same way after reading this....and it didn't happen to me! Yikes!

Darci said...

I know that I would love to say that this is a "boy thing" but I have the same with my 2 teenage girls. There are times when I can feel the love they have for him is just a "tiny bit" more. He is an amazaing Dad, but darn it I am the one that wiped the noses while he traveled extensively for work.

Sheri said...

Ouch! I can feel your pain. I have 2 boys and have always been in 2nd place around here, it used to just break my heart. I've come to terms with it now, but I do hate that I am the nagger, the disciplinarian, the mean one, and he's the fun one.

My oldest is more like me, and he likes to do things that I do, like read or go to the bookstore or library. I feel like he is starting to "like" me more as he realizes we are very similar.

I do think it's all about "like". Of course he loves you, adores you. And kids are fickle, it will go back and forth. I know that doesn't help your hurt right now though.

Whit said...

Wow. You handled that better than I would/will. Fickle, innocent little buggers.