(finding parenthood painfully funny)
Photo: Nicole Blaine Family Archives
“You know what this is?” I ask my four-year-old while pressing my nose into his baby-like cheek during our nighttime routine.
“Your favorite part of the day.” Correct, he knows me well. I reach above him to turn off the bedroom light. The room glows from the superhero nightlight in the corner, just behind the lifesize stormtrooper my mother-in-law unfortunately surprised us with this Christmas (breaking our “all gifts must be smaller than a breadbox” rule).
“And I love you more than …?”
“Anything!” He knows his lines well.
“Mommy, I don’t love you more than anything.”
I stare into the innocent, honest, green eyes he inherited from me. My heart breaks. This human is truly one of the greatest loves of my life. There is no love more pure. More deep. Or more weighted. A mother’s love for her son is, well, unexplainable. It is everything piled into one. It’s the most you can feel. All felt for this one little person. Who you would do everything for; including saving their life by giving up yours. And apparently it’s not reciprocated. Typical man.
“No?” I whimper.
“No. I love Daddy way more than I love you. He’s a better Mommy than you.”
His chubby fingers pat my cheek, some sort of condolence. My eyes swell with tears. But it’s a mixed cry: some sad tears, some happy tears. I’m truly devastated that I’m not his favorite parent. (Who breastfed you in the middle of the night for two years? I’ll tell you who it wasn’t …) However, I’m filled with incredible happiness because he’s right, my husband is a remarkable father (and apparently a remarkable mother, too).
“I love daddy way more than I love you. He’s a better Mommy than you.”
“Fair enough,” I say. “Why do you love him more?”
“Well, first of all, I don’t like girls.” (Please, Lord, let him always feel this way. I want a gay son. No daughter-in-law? It’s a mother’s dream.)
My son continues, “And I love Daddy more because he plays with me. I love when we wrestle. I want to get him a trophy for the best parent ever.”
This rejection is way worse than being ditched by my date at prom and having to wait for my dad pick me up outside the Denny’s so my boyfriend and his new slut could make out in our rented limo. I thought that was bad. But, unlike my high school boyfriend who chose a girl whose highest level of education included naptime, my son happens to have good taste, and honestly, has found someone truly better than me.
I remember lying in bed at night when I was seven years old. I had just learned that some people believe in this invisible magical wizard called God and pray to her before going to sleep. Not sure how God heard everyone’s requests, but I decided it would be best to get on her good side and start sending some voicemails myself. Each night I’d ask God to protect my family. And I’d list my family members in order of importance. And the most important person was my father. Because I loved him the most. Because he was the one who played with me.
It didn’t matter to me that my mother was the one cooking well-balanced meals every night with equal portions of protein, carbs, and vegetables. Or that she was putting herself through graduate school while working full time and never missed one PTA meeting. I didn’t notice that my father was continually unemployed or getting stoned while he drove me to school. What I did know was that he wrestled with me most days and every night told me a bedtime story about how I was the most beautiful girl in the world. And each night, in his stories, when I’d slide down a giant rainbow and under my covers into bed, he’d give me a kiss, and I wouldn’t want to let him go. I was most happy with him.
Years went by, my parents divorced, and my father and I were devastated by her decision to change our lives without our approval. As I aged I began to see why my mother left him. Yet I always held a special place for him in my heart, and appreciated the free weed in high school. My dad played with me. My mother prepared me for life. My mother made me the strong woman I am today, and when I no longer needed someone to play with, my mom became the person I could talk to, and my dad became this annoying guy who could never take me seriously. The currents of parental bonding are forever shifting. In elementary school, I loved my dad the most. In middle school, it was my mom. In high school, I hated them both. Now? Well, it changes daily. I guess that’s what you sign up for as a parent, the ebb and flow of your children’s love.
I gaze into my son’s eyes. “You’re lucky,” I say. “You do have the best Daddy in the whole world. I love him as much as you do, too.” And I feel good. Because maybe I’m not the best mom for him right now; I don’t wrestle enough, I spend too much time working late and pursuing my career, and forcing him to eat eggs and oatmeal each morning with some fresh berries, which he hates. But I’m the one who picked his dad. I’m the one who gave him this incredible man, to look up to and learn from, and be loved by. So really, I am the best. My greatest gift to my son is his father. So I am crying happy tears. “I’ll order the trophy, and give it to him on Mother’s Day.”
For more information on Nicole Blaine or to see her perform stand-up: www.NicoleBlaine.com