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How I Deal with Being the Second Favorite Parent

father and daughter

It was a few months into our dating relationship when my husband told me that while he loved being a doctor, his greatest passion in life was to become a dad. I had only just decided that I even liked this guy, but when he said that to me, my thought was “FINE, I’ll marry you.”

Six and a half years and one pudgy toddler later, he has lived up to that statement. And while my husband and I certainly don’t set out to compete for the title of “Favorite Parent,” if there was a tally, he would win by a land-slide.

My husband’s hectic work schedule means that his presence is a novelty–he also happens to be incredibly fun, making him a double threat. When he is home, he has only one focus: Our toddler. He plays, gives baths, provides shoulder rides, and reads books.

READ: Why This Dad Smothers His Daughter with Love

My daughter is also quintessentially a daddy’s girl. She even has what I call her “daddy smile,” which is a huge grin accompanied by sparkly eyes reserved only for my husband.

For the record, I am fun. And I shower my toddler with so much love, too. I truly relish in the moments when I can focus just on her. I love helping her put her stuffed animals to bed and letting her tackle me, resulting in an adorable, heartwarming giggle fit. Most of all, I love our nightly dance parties. Those times are my favorite part of being a Mom.

Realistically though, I can’t just focus on her all of the time. And I can’t be fun all the time either, which by default makes me the “Second Favorite Parent.”

I am with my daughter the most, which means that I am naturally the disciplinarian; I handle the major tantrums. My husband helps as much as he can, but I do the cooking, the cleaning and the Target runs. I make the daily smoothies in an effort to sneak vegetables into my daughter’s diet. I buy her clothing and pack her bag for daycare.

READ: My Daughter Wants To Know Who Her Father Is

Those things need to be done, and I happily do them. But it means that sometimes I need to multi-task or rely on the heaven-sent Sesame Street.

From my daughter’s perspective, her mommy is the one who drags her along on errands and sings songs while washing dishes. Daddy, though his time at home is limited, focuses all of his energy on being as goofy as possible, while I am in the background making dinner and tidying up.

Don’t get me wrong, my daughter loves me, that is for sure. She reaches for me when she has a boo-boo and cries for me when she is scared. But when it comes to picking a favorite parent, “Daddy!” always wins. Has this caused me to shed some tears? Absolutely.

After all, I am the one who carried my daughter through a tough and seemingly never ending pregnancy. I nursed her and held her around the clock to calm her colic. I more than anyone else attend to her physical and emotional needs. Shouldn’t that entitle me to be the favorite parent?

Instead, when I go into my daughter’s room every morning, the first word out of her mouth is “Daddy”, followed by several minutes of demanding to see Daddy. It’s incredibly sweet but it also stings. I can’t help but get teary-eyed as I wonder if my daughter prefers my husband because I am a bad Mom. And I even have to admit that feelings of jealousy of my husband would creep up every so often.

READ: Why We Don’t Celebrate Mother’s Day, but Do Celebrate Father’s Day

As time has passed, I’ve not only learned to accept my parental ranking, but I have actually come to embrace it. Yes, it means that when my husband and I are both home, my daughter wants to play with him and just him. But you know what? It’s a small price to pay. My husband is a great dad. My daughter is so lucky to have him in her life and I am grateful to have that kind of father for my child. Isn’t that why I married him in the first place?

So when my toddler casually tells me “bye-bye” to signal that I’m intruding on her private daddy-daughter time, I’ll kick back, relax and watch some TV…Just kidding, dinner won’t make itself.

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