It was Sunday morning and we were on our way to church. I was in the driver’s seat and my two babies were sitting peacefully in their carseats behind me, watching the word zip by outside the windows. As I pulled up to a red light, I took a peek at each of my boys through the rear-view mirror.
Cameron was sitting up, facing forward, looking every bit the big boy that he is growing into. Firmly gripped in each hand were toy cars. Gavin was reclining in his rear-facing seat, his eyes wide open, trying to take in as much of this new world as he could.
They were both sitting there, so perfect. So beautiful. With me. So close. My boys.
“You are both Mama’s boys” I said, turning my head around and smiling at these little bits of me and my husband in whole, new form. Sometimes I am hit so strongly with such an incredible feeling of joy and privilege that I get to share my life with these two little beings. “Mama loves her boys.”
My heart was bursting for them; for my boys. Both of them, equally.
And then Cameron spoke.
“No Mama. Tameron not Mama-boy. Tameron Daddy-boy! Gabin Mama-boy.”
Not my boy. According to Cameron I only have one boy, and he isn’t it.
I get it. I do. For the past five months, I have been at this new baby’s beck and call. He and I share a rhythm, one entirely out of step from a toddler’s typical beat. Our family has made this work, but usually because of some off-balance equation in which Daddy spends a lot of extra time with the big boy while I spend my time caring for the newest one.
It works for us. We have two very happy kids. We are meeting their needs in the best possible way we know how.
Gavin, the baby, favours me. He tolerates his Dad, which is better than how he used to act, but the expressions on his face and the way he shimmies his body to get closer to me really solidifies his preference in parent. Gavin is at a stage where he needs his Mama and I need to be there for him. So I am. I am always there when he calls. I nurse him when he is hungry and snuggle him when he is lonely, and lay my sleepy body beside his when he needs a little extra comfort.
What Cameron doesn’t remember is that I did all of this for him.
I understood each of his unique cries and reacted accordingly. I put my energy into making him laugh and smile. I spent each night wrapped around his little body, heart to heart, breath on breast. I let him depend on me and he loved me for it.
Everything I do now for Gavin, I did for Cameron.
Cameron won’t remember that. He still holds on to that sense of security and the understanding that I will protect and provide for him. But he couldn’t possibly remember each individual time I put his needs above all others.
Now it is Gavin who needs that. Now it is Gavin’s turn to learn how secure and safe and loved he is in this family. I am the one who needs to start that process.
What Cameron doesn’t realize is that I am doing all of this for him still. It has just evolved into a love that manifests itself differently, with more independence.
As I hold onto the memory of baby Cameron and his little hands grasping for me, I can confidently hand over the favourite parent role to my husband knowing that he does just as good of a job loving Cameron and making him the happiest he can be. And maybe, hopefully, I’ll be his favourite again in another season. Maybe I’ll get my Mama’s boy back for a little while.
Because I love my boys. And no matter what they say, they are both Mama’s boys.
Do your kids have a favourite parent? How do you cope when you’re not it? Did you have a favourite parent while growing up?