It took her nearly eight years, but she finally did it.
She told me last night.
Daddy is my favorite.
The minute she made the admission, her hands flew to her mouth, as if they could redact the sentence.
Daddy is my favorite.
I could see her eyes well up. Hands clamped firmly over her mouth. Terrified.
I put my hands on my knees, getting eye level with her.
"I know he is, sweetheart." I told her, stoic.
It was the least surprising thing I heard in ages.
So I hugged her, made her laugh.
I hope she feels better, to have that off her chest.
I've been waiting for it for years.
I didn't have a favorite parent growing up.
To me, they were parents. Adults. Disciplinarians. Authoritative. I never considered either of them my friend, to be honest. I managed to leave the house at 18 with a healthy level of respect and terror for both of them. God, they were good parents. How'd they do that? I'm scared I won't get there with Kid Rock.
Today is different. They are both incredible people who I like being around. I value their opinions and judgements and unconditional love. Somewhere along the lines I fell in love with them as people. My people. I still respect the hell out of them, but they're less terrifying. My dad is really funny. My mom is really blunt. They're fantastic. And, equally so.
But, the Dad and I, we have one child. And I'm not her favorite parent.
I won't mention pregnancy. The stretch marks. The whiskey or bleu cheese I gave up. I. Stopped. Drinking. Coffee. The high heels that were shelved. The THIRTY ONE POINT FIVE HOURS of labor. Because none of that matters. It's not about sacrifices or what you do in the name of those you love. They'll still arrive at their own conclusions about you as person. That's all them and nothing on you. Try all you want. It's futile.
And truly, this is not a cathartic release of my pretend feelings on the topic in a half-hearted attempt to assume acceptance. I honestly, with my whole heart, knew I wasn't her favorite for many years. There was just always something about those two that were different. I sometimes come up with reasons.
I traveled too much.
I sent her to daycare.
I didn't breastfeed.
I can yell.
We're too similar.
I'm a hardass.
I'm too soft.
But in reality, none of those have anything to do with it. The heart wants what the heart wants. And damned if I'm going to stand in its way.
Besides, I'll always be her mother.
And someday when I invite her to the coffee shop, she won't throw herself on the floor in hysterics at the mere thought of how PAINFUL that sounds. Or she'll love shopping a little bit more than she does right now. I always joked that I could be 34 states away from her for a week straight, but her daddy goes golfing for 3 hours and she loses her mind. And maybe someday, I'll be her first choice.
Because right now, and likely forever, she's mine.
And letting her have this, and like this, is proof of that.