It has happened. My first-born son is in love. And I am jealous. I am second best. I am devastated. He is 16 months old and the object of his obsessive affection is….his father.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled my husband and son have a good relationship. I just wish I had some of the fairy dust that causes my son to erupt into an ecstatic frenzy at the very sight of me.
But no. This emotion is reserved for dada alone. Dada dadadadadadadadadadada!
Why is it so? Is it because dada is all fun and mama is all business? My husband changes his share of diapers, administers vegetables, declares bedtime before it is welcome and uses a firm tone when necessary. Less than I do, perhaps, but he can still play the bad guy. Yet he remains the Brad Pitt to my reliable Sam Waterston.
My son’s eyes light up and burst from his head at the site of his father in his room in the morning. I feed him, change him, offer him water and hugs and kisses and educational toys and books and an endless parade of funny faces and noises – but the moment his father is in view I simply cease to exist. Dada!
Dada can be a hundred yards away, working on the front lawn, and my son’s sixth sense kicks in. Dada! He exclaims, running to the window and pointing. My heart falls. Mama! I whimper, eyes brimming.
Whatever, his look says. Where’s my sippy cup full of Pepperidge Farm goldfish?
Pasting pictures of myself along the sides of his crib did nothing. Ditto for recording my voice singing and playing it every night as he goes to bed. Emblazoning the image of my face onto stickers that were then applied to all his cars and trains was also ineffective.
I tried playing hard to get, handing my son over to my husband for a whole Saturday. I figured when I came home I’d be greeted with joy and appreciation. Instead, they were both asleep on the couch in front of the game, an empty bowl of ice cream sticking to the coffee table. And I thought, these are men. And I am not.
I woke them and tucked them both in. Then I waited for my son to awake in the night, when I would go to him and rub his back until he fell asleep.