The Preferred Parent


Who’s your favourite parent?

My husband and I for a while have struggled with our daughter displaying a very clear preference for me. Her preferential treatment gets more vocal as she masters new words. While we hope someday this will change, we are learning better to go with the flow.

A Letter from the Preferred Parent to her Daughter

Dear daughter,

Thank you for making me the preferred parent. It is an honour to be the one always nominated to feed you, bathe you and clean your poo. I love to wait for an hour every night in pitch darkness, until you fall asleep. It is very energising to be the one who has to carry you all day, when we are being tourists on holiday. You keep life exciting by holding on to my leg, asking to be carried while I cook, do the dishes, and all the other chores which would be quite mundane otherwise. It couldn’t get better.

Well actually it can. When you get older, you will know sarcasm. Mummy was just being sarcastic. I’d love to step out in the evening with my friends, without worrying if you will scream your head off when daddy tucks you in instead of me. I’d love to take at least one shower a week that I don’t have to share with you. I’d love to share more of your care with Daddy, so that I could finally catch up on all the backlog I have at office. And of course I blame your Daddy for this, for how can I blame gentle, awesome little you? It’s all his fault. If only he were as loveable and caring as I am, he would be the preferred one.

Gulp! Daddy the preferred one…

Now that I think about it I wouldn’t like that either. You see, I love your cuddles and these days daddy doesn’t get too many cuddles does he? That time when I waited for you to fall asleep, when you suddenly turned around, stroked my hair and whispered “Love you mummy” for the first time ever – now that wouldn’t have happened if daddy had been the preferred one, would it? I love your tiny kisses, I love the way you scream with delight when I pick you up from nursery, I love how you sneak into our bed and push your little body against mine and not daddy’s, I love being loved crazy by you. My dear daughter, despite everything, I love being the preferred parent.

But I know I’m being selfish when I say I wish this would not change. For I see things you don’t. The disappointment on daddy’s face when you push him away, after he has just tried to hug you. How he runs to your room in the middle of the night when he hears you cry, even before I’ve managed to open my eyes. How he leaves his favourite TV shows when he hears us having a pillow fight, in the hope that today you will let him be a part of it. My dear daughter, it’s not just daddy I see. I also see the sadness in your eyes when you watch daddy leave for work each day. The number of times you ask for him through the day while he is at work. How you always find videos of daddy and you on my phone and then watch them again and again. On some days the only way I can get you to leave nursery is by reminding you that your daddy is waiting for you at home.

From the day you were born, I knew you were daddy’s little girl. You replaced me as his favourite woman, but you are the only one who could have done so without me resenting it. He was the first man you slow danced with, even though you won’t remember it. He will be the only man who will run to pick you up every time you fall. And whatever you choose to do, he will be cheering you louder than anyone else. Someday you will see how awesome he really is and that day I know I will no longer be the preferred parent. When that happens my daughter, don’t forget how much I love you and that you are my little girl too.

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