Peril and pitfalls in life as the preferred parent

Connor is mama's boy, there is absolutely no denying that. He is my little snuggler, who rolls over in bed next to me after we read Harold, and fits himself perfectly against me, just enjoying the quiet peace of that moment. Perhaps that is leftover from that horrific terrible first year when we spent too many nights like that to count? I often wonder, did I do something to cause this clear preference for Mommy? If I had worked part time like I did with Caroline, would he feel more secure in our relationship? Is this lingering from our new routine wherein mommy is the dropper and picker upper? It does seem to have gotten worse since April, but maybe not?

In connor's daily life he gets up and wants only me to retrieve him from his crib. He will then only allow mommy to get him dressed. He has taken to being mommy's shadow to the point that I am tripping over him putting cereal on the table and pouring milk. I somehow detach him from my shoulder at school, until I pick him up and he is requesting that I stop the car to hug him.

How sweet you say?

When we do finally get home, he is often briefly distracted by a rake in the garage, but only briefly. He wants to be beside me while I cook, wants to stir whatever is in the bowl on the counter, stands beside me while I change out of my work clothes. Caroline relocates his chair to her side of the table occasionally and when she does this he pushes steve out of his spot, demanding that mommy sit there.

Yeah, see there is another parent here who has to deal with NOT being the parent of choice. He has to deal with him screaming for me from the family room while I do something upstairs, or hold him at the shore while I bring Caroline out into the surf, or while I go for a quick run. He screams holy hell until I return and while it feels good to know I am so meaningful to him, damn boy, give us a break. Allow me to run without running against the clock of steve's patience. Allow me to come inside from watering all the plants each night without feeling like I have abandoned him for a week with the kid who cannot be satisfied if you are not momma.

I resent that he cannot just cope for a minute and get through it. Steve resents that he cannot take my place, that Connor does not value him the same way. You know who also gets the shaft? Caroline. She never gets to sit next to me in a restaurant by herself. It often ends up being steve on one side of the booth and the kids and I on the other. She never gets to sit with me, snuggled up together, without someone trying to push his way between us.

I worry it will damage our mother daughter relationship. I worry that if we don't work harder at this that it will not ever improve. I keep telling myself that he will snap out if it someday soon, realizing that mommy cannot pitch to him the way daddy can. That day is just not coming today and I know I need to do something to change this. We try not to indulge him, to force him to accept daddy, but that only makes it worse. We compromise, "mommy will put on your pj top, daddy will put on your bottoms." Even Caroline hisses at him, "it can't always be mommy!" I know his reliance on me is hurting her. I know how frustrating it is for steve to try to fill this role he will not allow. When I come downstairs or back from a run or finally swim to shore and he tells me that "your son has been crying to 20 minutes straight," I cringe. It is just as perilous being on this side, but I know that is hard to see.

I know this is common for his age, but we need some improvement here. Any suggestions?


  1. Hmmm,, that's a tough one. Maybe create a special outing for him to do with just daddy Ike going to Dunkin donuts or out for ice cream (whatever he REALLY likes) and make a big deal of it and then talk about how much fun he had and make it a weekly tradition for him to look forward to. Just daddy and Connor time. And you can simultaneously reclaim some Caroline time. Hopefully over time the bonding time will help the overall relationship.

  2. I completely agree with Kristen - my husband and son still go for bike rides without me for that very reason. When Josh was in that stage my husband did all the bedtime routine stuff for a few months and it really helped. Could he try that while you go to another part of the house with Caroline and read to her? Good luck whatever you do!