I’ve been a parent for almost 19 years. For 12 I’ve been the mom of three, and I’ve never minded when my kids occasionally tell me they hate me.
In fact I’ve been known to thank my little detractors whenever they utter these three words.
I know it’s my job as the primary scolder-in-chief to put the kibosh on building swimming pools in the basement or using a sibling’s head as a cruise missile. Not to mention insisting on silly things like brushing teeth, wearing underwear and doing homework.
I happily signed up for the gig when my husband and I decided I would stay home full time when our first child was born. I’ve always been grateful that we have been able to pull it off.
Joe’s job and long commute means he’s often out of the house around 7:00 in the morning, and not home until around 9:00 at night. He misses a lot of the kids’ lives during the week, so I’ve never really minded if he’s seen as the fun parent.
But for about a year, my youngest has been telling me that not only is dad more fun, he also does everything better than I do.
Of course my husband just loves this.
Last week as I was putting in a load of laundry, Peter, 12, came down and watched.
“Mom, dad puts the detergent in first when he puts in a load of wash.”
“Oh, well dad does it his way, and I do it mine. Which way do you like to do it when you do your laundry?”
“I do it dad’s way. It’s better.”
“Well that’s great.”
Later on as I was getting dinner ready, the peanut gallery offered another helpful hint.
“Dad slices the onions; he doesn’t chop them like that. I like the way he does it better.”
“Well that’s nice. Dad does make things look prettier than I do.”
“Yes, he does.”
“But I do them a lot faster,” I said, somewhat under my breath.
Though I like to think of myself as a mature, psychologically aware parent, who realizes that kids are going to feel safe expressing their negative feelings to the parent they see more of, I must admit all this daddy-does-it-better talk is getting on my nerves.
After all, I’m the one who is here, rain or shine, day in and day out. Feeling sick at 2:00 am? Let’s wake up mom. Nervous about an upcoming math test? Mom to the rescue.
I know dad is great, but I’m important, too. Mom has feelings you know.
I laughed at my slightly wounded pride and cleaned up the kitchen. Because I’m the one who gets a front row seat to first loves, classroom triumphs and broken hearts, while Joe often has to settle for hearing about everything secondhand, I guess I can live with the occasional, dad does it better.
Peter was finishing up his homework and getting his backpack ready for the morning. I reminded him that I had to go into New York the next day for a work event, and would have to leave very early for my train.
“Just so you know, I probably will be gone when you wake up.”
“Who’s going to help me get ready?”
“Well, you don’t need any help, you’ll get yourself ready;”
“But who’s going to be with me in the morning?”
“Dad will be here, he’s going to work out of the Long Island office. He will be here when your bus picks you up.”
“You’re leaving me all alone?”
“No, you’ll be with dad, you know the guy who lives here with us. The one who does everything better than I do.”
We laughed, and he got ready for bed.
The next day I was on the train when I got this text from my husband: “Peter said Mom does a better job getting me on the school bus.”
Score one for mom.