My Sons Bond With Their Dad More Than Me

When I poke my head in his bedroom, my son is rubbing his eyes and yawning. He smiles a sunny gapless grin at me—all teeth still present and accounted for, at nearly 6 years old—and announces that today he's going to have "oat bunches" cereal.

"I want to try it because that's what Daddy likes," he tells me.

I spend a brief moment thinking about how he's never been remotely interested in what I eat for breakfast, then I let it go. It would be stupid to be hurt by something so silly, right? Right.

Especially when there are so many other stupid things to be hurt by. Like how whenever he accomplishes some new thing, he can't stop talking about how Daddy is going to be so proud of him. ("I'm proud of you too," I say. "Yeah ..." he replies distractedly. "Can we call Daddy now?") How he wants to dress like his dad, be good at everything his dad is good at, grow up to have a job exactly like his dad. He's absolutely obsessed with just-Daddy-and-me activities like fishing, camping, shooting BB guns, and building things together in the shop.

I am, of course, incredibly happy that my boys have such a wonderful relationship with their father. My husband is awesome, no doubt about it. He's fun, he's loving, he has cool hobbies that appeal to small boys.

It's just ... oh, I've always been second fiddle. Always. And I believe I've mostly made my peace with that, but the older the boys get, the more I feel like I've been settled into some sort of spectacularly lame role that I can't seem to break out of. One where I am forever the nag, the killjoy, the one whose approval isn't worth caring about as much because I'm just not as important.

I'm the one who hovers, making helpless Marge Simpson noises, when the boys are taking turns to see who can more efficiently break their ankle by leaping off a set of rain-slick steps. I force reluctant children to briefly abandon their play so I can smear them with sunscreen. I grouch and grump a thousand times a day to stop jumping on the couch, finish your lunch, clean up your room, turn the noise down to a dull roar, stop hitting each other, TV time is over, yes you DO have to go pee before we leave ... and on and on it goes.

Maybe that's just the hat most moms have to wear, but the thing is, I have other hats, too, and I don't know if my kids see them, or care that they're there. Did you know, I want to say, that I have a job too? That I'm strong and athletic and funny and creative and hard-working and sometimes I'm even maybe a little bit awesome? That I'm good at things that have absolutely fuck-all to do with making your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

Why don't you ever want to be like me, is what I sometimes think.

My boys love me. I know this. We are a happy, tight-knit little family, and I am so grateful for what I have. Still, I have a secret fear that my relationship with my boys will never be as strong as the one they have with their father. That even though I'm the one at home with them, the big bonding moments are always centered around Daddy. That I'm not doing as much as I could to make them proud and respectful of me—of the woman I am, not just the mother figure.

Do any of you ever struggle with similar feelings?



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Serena Steinberg Argentieri

I most certainly do. As I was reading this, I felt like it was written about my family. It's true, mom always ends up being the "bad guy" whereas dad is always labeled the "fun guy" & although it seems totally unfair, I am ok w/it - for now, because I am the voice of reason. Not that my husband does a bad job, he's great w/the kids, but I'm the one who makes sure my one year old isn't out climbing fences & my 3 year old isn't going to summer camp to learn how to skydive ;-) Mom is the REAL head of the house & for now, I'm perfectly content wearing that hat ;-)

blogg... blogginmomma

Hear hear sister! I completely feel you on the sentiment of being second fiddle.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Kids need different things from different parents. I'm sure there are plenty of ways in which you are preferable to dad. My son loves having the same breakfast as dad (raw oatmeal with craisins and soy milk, it's gross) and when they go hiking I am told in no uncertain terms that I will be staying home. On the other hand, dad isn't allowed near homework (he gets frustrated and nags) and there is no substitute for a snuggle from mommy. He needs both his parents. If one of us goes out we get a spectacular welcome when we come home.

mmmar... mmmarilyn

You make my heart hurt when I write about this.  It's just not FAIR, you know?  But of course, you do know -- and also know that they love you just as much, even if it's in a more -- taken for granted way.  (RARRG.)

It's not as fun-seeming, but as far as being a great female role model for them, I do think the taken for granted love and appreciation they have for you will carry through.  Just cause you're not obviously running around in chainsaw pants, just cause their jaws aren't dropped in awe, doesn't mean they don't think you're a badass.

nonmember avatar Miche

I am about to go get my 3 year old out of bed and the first thing he is going to say to me when I open his door is "is Daddy home?" despite the fact that every weeknight before bed I remind him that "Daddy will be at work when you wake up, so I will come get you in the morning." It pisses me off every single morning. I am also told "Daddy is my favourite - you can be Auntie Sue's favourite, ok Mama?" :/ But, neither dad nor Sue know all the little secrets that I do that make his life perfect, so at least there's that.

dirti... dirtiekittie

@mmmarilyn... chainsaw pants! i lol'ed!! :)

oh how often i've felt like this - and i have two girls! but they are both daddy's girls to the core. i agree with another poster that they need both parents... it just seems like a lot of the times we're in the more underappreciated role. but, they say it's also like a pendulum... they swing from one to another. and that's true, i've seen it.

the thing is, i'm learning that if i do my job as a mom well, then at these stages there isn't always that appreciated and 'wanted' feeling. being a mom means taking care of my family in the best way that i can, and that's not always the fun or appreciated role. i think that's why as we get older we realize how amazing moms and women can be - and show it by being the best women that WE can be :)

nonmember avatar Kathy

Oh Linda, once again it's like you are in my head or live at my house. I always joke with my husband that I am "chopped liver" compared to him....or "just the help" because sometimes that's just how it feels around here!! He ALWAYS reassures me, "but your MOM!" and proceeds to remind me that there is no such bond that is comparable to Mother and child. It's nice to be reminded of that every once in a while though because it seems we fall into that "taken for granted" role so easily. I am expecting my third Son next month so I am quite familiar with this topic, but I thank my lucky stars that my children have such a tight loving bond with their Dad, because I couldn't imagine our life without it. Thank You for sharing Linda!!!

Dannielle Richins

I think son's tend to show their love for their mothers when they are older and can honestly appreciate everything we've done for them. I'm saying around the age of...30-35. When they begin their own lives they will understand there's no replacement for the love a mother has.

I've never heard a kid say "I want my daddy" when shit really hits the fan. I'm sure it happens, I've just never heard it.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

If the fit hitting the shan consists of smoke coming out of mom's ears after "go clean your room please" has been interpreted as "please go finger paint your walls" then the kids are sure to be asking for daddy then ;-)

jaxmadre jaxmadre

Yes, I do. And it's magnified by the fact that we're divorced and daddy lives 5 states away. So daddy's like a celebrity when our son does him.

I'm glad he loves that f-er so much, but it's seriously not fair.

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