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My Toddler Doesn’t Like Me And Other Depressing Confessions

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It’s the second week of January, traditionally a depressing time of year for many of us. The holidays are over, it’s cold and dark out, our pants are tight, and the light at the end of the tunnel (AKA April) seems so very far away. I’m experiencing the usual seasonal depression I get every January, but this year I have the added bonus of being rejected on a daily basis by my two-year-old. For after spending two weeks in Daddy’s company — Drew took a lot of time off for the holidays — Jackson wants NOTHING to do with me. Nothing. Actually, it’s worse than nothing. I’m basically on his shit list and for no other reason than just plain existing (well, and to be fair: cutting his hair).

Do you know how depressing it is to have your son — your sweet, cute, little red-cheeked son — tell you to “go away” when you approach him for a hug? It’s more depressing than keeping your fingers crossed through a crazy-ass blizzard that school will get canceled only to get just a one-hour delay. Or, when you go to your son’s crib in the middle of the night because he’s crying and, when you get there, he says, “No Mommy! I want Daddy!”? More depressing than no more “Breaking Bad” ever. That’s depressing! Or, when the three of you are heading out for a big adventure, like a trip to the local playground because your life basically only revolves around morning trips to the playground and afternoon trips to the playground, and your son starts crying — like real tears! — simply because you’re coming along and ruining what would otherwise be a glorious, wonderful daddy-son bonding occasion? As depressing as an empty fortune cookie, that’s how depressing.

Drew likes to tell me this is just a phase. Easy for him to say! He’s the favored parent. “It’s just a phase,” he says, as I sit on the couch and sob into my hands. It’s Friday night and we just got back from our holiday trip the day before. I didn’t sleep well while we were away (I rarely sleep well in other beds that aren’t my own), and I had gotten sick and lost my voice and had my period. I was tired, I wasn’t myself, and Jackson’s constant and steady rejection of me was just too much. “It’s a phase,” Drew said again softly, like if he said it enough I’d believe him. Like if he said it enough times, it’d come true.

But this “phase” has been going on a long time. Even before Drew’s two weeks off from work. I can’t remember how long, but it seems Jackson has always favored his father. And I just… I just am to him. I’m just here. I’m just the woman who cleans the messes and prepares the food and does all the other invisible stuff that only ever matters if it’s not done and never when it is, especially to a kid. And that is more depressing than a birthday forgotten or a rip in your favorite jeans or getting to the bus stop a minute too late in pouring rain.

And to top off all of that, it’s January. And the holidays are over, and say what you will about the holidays, but I like ‘em. I like the twinkling lights and the decorations and the cards in the mail and the shopping and the wrapping and the way there’s always somewhere to go and something to do and friends and family to see. And I like the pie. But what does January have? A big bowl of ugh, that’s what. Even my income plummets in January. After advertisers spend all their money in the 4th quarter and everyone does their holiday shopping through my affiliate links in November and December (and thank you for that, by the way, really), January is like the flat tire at the end of a century bike ride, that’s what.

Ugh.

But I’m going to make some effort to get out of this funk. Drew and I are changing some things up in our parenting so that I’m doing a little less of the invisible work and he’s doing a little more (like making lunches! Do you know how many Jackson lunches I made in 2013? 365, that’s how many). I don’t think that will make Jackson like me any more (or Drew any less, which isn’t the idea anyway), but it should help with my general feeling of burn-out-ness, and that, in turn, should theoretically make me a lovelier person to be around. I said theoretically, Drew, don’t get too excited.

Oh! And we’re planning a little weekend getaway, just the two of us. Just one night, really. Back to the same B&B we went last May. It’s 90 minutes outside Manhattan by train, and it’s on a farm with a spa on the grounds and a delicious restaurant across the street. And our room will have a fireplace. I kind of hope it snows. And I’m hoping to get to Chicago this winter, too, as is my tradition. I like to do a little mid-winter warm-up with my besties to help us all get over the hump of the season. And there’s a karaoke party on the horizon, as well. It helps to have things to look forward to.

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I rearranged our living room furniture ever so slightly — I mean, there’s only so much you can do in a room that is really the size of a hallway — but I cleared enough space — I think! — to hula hoop. And since so many winter days are too snowy or icy or slushy or just plain cold to go running outside, I’m going to start hula-hooping in my living room for cardio exercise. (Little known fact: I am an excellent hula-hooper!) I think that will help.

Oh, but this phase, whether in January or February or in the bright utopia of May, just blows. When your own child whom you love so much and do everything for doesn’t even like you, won’t even look at you or hug you or acknowledge your existence except to cry and yell “Go away!”? It blows. I expected this from a teenage daughter. But a 2-year-old boy? I thought they were all supposed to love their Mamas! I feel like I’m the only mother in the world who isn’t adored by her little boy.

Ugh, that’s what. A big bowl of ugh.

Now, excuse me, I have to go look for my hula hoop.

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{ 102 comments… add one }

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 1:07 pm

Oh, Wendy. Can I come to Brooklyn and give you a hug? I’ve found that the more I’m away from Lil, the more she likes me. Maybe your vacation with Drew will result in him missing you and appreciating you being around more?

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 1:08 pm

Ha, he’ll just miss daddy! Anytime drew and I got out and someone babysits Jackson, I am told that he only asks for daddy and never for me. Womp-womp.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 1:11 pm

I guess there’s still hope for when you go to Chicago alone. Maybe Drew can be an extra annoying dad while you are gone!

avatar MBSMOMMA January 8, 2014, 1:12 pm

I have a two-year-old boy also and he has been going through a MAJOR Daddy phase too! Don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one. :) I know its tough, but I’m on the same “its a phase” train as Drew. We will get through this, our boys love us!

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson January 8, 2014, 1:13 pm

Ugh I want to cry for you. That is really sad. I wish it was appropriate for you to tell him he’s being an asshole. Instead you just have to love him and continue doing everything for him. Moms really are the most under-appreciated. I have to agree with Drew though, it is just a phase. He’ll grow out of it and go back to running to you for every skinned knee and hunger pain and school assignment.

The other cynical/weird part of me is like, well have another kid, maybe that one will be the one that adores you and thinks Drew sucks. Which is pretty fucked up, but….. I’ve already decided I’m having either no kids or 3, because I feel like at least if you have 3 one of them will like you and one of them will have their shit together.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson January 8, 2014, 1:27 pm

Also, speaking of things that you love being assholes, Sampson got into the cupboard today (which is insane because he’s pretty but dumbbbb) while I was in the shower and ate all of the beggin strips. I mean all of them. At least when he inevitably gets sick he will be at day care and it won’t be my problem. But ugh.

I definitely get seasonal depression. And I gained 8 pounds from the week before Thanksgiving until January 1. In case you’re wondering. At first I was like oh no big deal, probably like at least 3-4 is water weight so really it’s only 3-4 pounds. Nope, I was wrong. I have been working out since then and it’s still at 8 pounds. So that was 8 pounds of real weight. And all the problems in my life have somehow gotten worse. Which I’m not sure how that’s possible. It’s like I reach a new low all the time.

But you’re right, spring will be right around the corner. And in the meantime I will force myself to go snowboarding every weekend so I get some sunshine and outdoor time in. But ugh.

avatar kerrycontrary January 8, 2014, 2:45 pm

I’ve gained like 10lbs since November 1st. It’s insane. I think I’ve lost like 2-3 of it since it’s not the holidays anymore. So we can rejoice in our newly gained weight together.

othy othy January 8, 2014, 3:04 pm

I am right there with you. Damn all of these treats and yummy goodies in my office. And they’re still here (people brought in everything left over that they don’t want to eat) and I have zero willpower.

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 1:27 pm

Oh, I have definitely had that thought…

avatar csp January 8, 2014, 2:26 pm

I had a friend once who, at brunch, was crying about her toddler being so bad. She said, “If the little b*tch was just grateful for all the effort, I would be ok. But she doesn’t even acknowledge my effort!” Now, she was being funny, but the hurt was there. She was trying so hard to only be met with a girl who fought her at every turn then was an angel when dad came home.

othy othy January 8, 2014, 3:04 pm

We’ve got 3 kids in my family, and it seems like at least one of us has our shit together at any given time, but it rotates depending on the year.

avatar lemongrass January 8, 2014, 1:19 pm

You aren’t the only mom whose little boy won’t hug them! E never hugs me and pushes me away (by the face!) when I try to hug him. He’s not a snuggly kid and would much rather be playing by himself than be in my arms. I try to look at the bright side- that I am not overwhelmed by intense needs, that I am not overtouched and have a bit of my body to myself. That my kid is comfortable and secure enough to be independent. I take the smiles and the giggles for hugs. And I remind myself that it goes fast. Jackson is 2! Already! One day, not soon, probably not until (if) he becomes a parent himself and watches his wife be a mother, he will understand and appreciate and be thankful.

avatar lemongrass January 8, 2014, 1:22 pm

Also I’m trying to have another kid because what are the odds that two kids don’t like cuddles?

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 1:31 pm

Right?!

avatar kerrycontrary January 8, 2014, 1:19 pm

Aw Wendy, if it helps at all, I know 2 other moms who are constantly rejected by their little boys. One of the boys is 2.5, the other is 6 going on 12. It’s hard having a child who isn’t always the happy cuddlebug you expected, but maybe part of this is him gaining his independence and becoming an older toddler/child?

avatar kerrycontrary January 8, 2014, 1:21 pm

Also, I have a hula hoop in my apartment! You can get weighted ones for cardio. My boss did a hula hoop class at the Y and she said it was really fun.

Fabelle Fabelle January 8, 2014, 1:31 pm

Are the weighted ones (counterintuitively?) easier to use? Because I suck at hula hooping. As soon as I try twirling it around my waist, it’s on the ground already.

Jill Jill January 8, 2014, 2:07 pm

The weighted ones are surprisingly easier. I never was able to hula hoop either, and I tried my friend’s weighted adult sized one (they are bigger, which apparently makes it easier to get around?), and I was so excited that I could do it! So I bought one for myself :)

avatar cam January 8, 2014, 4:17 pm

I’ve heard that the weighted adult hula hoops are easier because they’re actually made for adults as opposed to adults using child sized ones. The weight also makes it easier to move.

othy othy January 8, 2014, 3:06 pm

I would love to take a hula hoop class, but that fad hasn’t caught on here yet. Apparently aerobic poll dancing is the big thing right now.

avatar rachel January 8, 2014, 1:24 pm

Aw, I’m sorry Wendy, that sounds really hard. Hula hooping sounds like fun exercise though! I’m pretty un-coordinated, so it would not go well for me haha.

Fabelle Fabelle January 8, 2014, 1:29 pm

Aw Wendy, my heart breaks for you. I can’t imagine. But thanks as always for writing about the more difficult aspects of motherhood that no one talks about— like, I remember being a child & favoring my grandpa over everyone else in my little circle, but I never thought of how shitty it must feel for the unfavored. Eesh.

P.S. I’m so with you on the holidays thing. I love, love, love them, & then I get an emotion-crash by January :( All of the tossed Christmas trees & unlit houses make me sad.

avatar rachel January 8, 2014, 1:52 pm

The house across the street from me is owned by this adorable old couple, and is still lit up beautifully. Makes me smile.

Kate Kate January 8, 2014, 1:37 pm

Sorry, that sounds like an incredibly hard thing to deal with right now. I’m sure it will pass. I have a tiny inkling of what that might be like, because I’m no longer #1 with my Jack Russell Terrier (who I raised from a puppy and had for 6 years before I met my husband). Since we moved in together, he’s joined at the hip with Mr. Kate. He spends a lot more time with him because he works from home. But it’s like this obsessive thing where he can’t let him out of his sight. And I’m definitely second fiddle. And I’m sure it’s NOT just a phase.

And I feel you on the winter thing – I HATE JANUARY THROUGH APRIL with a passion. It’s uncomfortable, it’s a freaking mess, and I have no interest in outdoor winter activities. Ugh ugh ugh. Blah.

avatar HmC January 8, 2014, 1:39 pm

Seasonal depression! Ack. Ok so add that to my long list of reasons that I must be feeling shitty overall:
1- Wedding on Saturday was more amazing and touching than I could ever have hoped for, and then BOOM it’s over. Just as I adjusted to liking being a bride, it’s gone in the blink of an eye and all of the wonderful people in our lives are far away again. It’s jarring. And I have too much free time.
2- Holidays are over. Not another one in sight until Easter.
3- I’m back to work right away (delayed honeymoon in March).
4- I’m kind of broke from wedding stuff.
5- All of the boring non-wedding chores I put off until after the wedding are now upon me (dispute incorrect info on credit report, yell at DirecTV for a stupid fee we should not have been charged, haggle with the federal government about my student loan payments, make a will- all sounds super fun no?)
6- My closest friend moved away for school and when she is in town she can’t do fun wine nights or happy hour because she’s pregnant, and will be for another 6 months.

After wedding blues are a real thing y’all, even if you didn’t make a huge hoopla out of your wedding. Mostly I just miss everyone and wish they were closer.

/me tangent over

Kate Kate January 8, 2014, 1:44 pm

100% with you right now on #1, #4, #5. There’s a huge high and then you’re back, dealing with January. It is depressing.

GatorGirl GatorGirl January 8, 2014, 1:57 pm

Yeah, I had post wedding blahs too. And GGuy left 5 days after the wedding for a month long research trip. We still haven’t had a true honeymoon, maybe for one year.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 2:07 pm

I’ve heard tons of people talk about wedding blues. Seems like it takes over your life so long and then its just over and you have “nothing” to do. At least you have the honeymoon to look forward to! I try to go on a vacation in March because that’s usually when I’m officially cant-take-another-day of winter. Where are you going?

Kate Kate January 8, 2014, 2:14 pm

LBH, me too with the trip in March. This year I think we’ll use Delta miles and take a trip to Phoenix and Vegas, to see friends and BRITNEY JEAN! Or possibly Los Angeles instead for another friend’s 40th if she decides to have a big party, and then the Vegas trip in June or something. But usually I go somewhere tropical in March.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 2:16 pm

Yea, it really helps, even just to have something to look forward to. I think we’re going to FL. Got a price alert today actually.

GatorGirl GatorGirl January 8, 2014, 2:35 pm

whoop whoop. fl in march is fantabulous.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 2:46 pm

Isn’t it?! I usually go around March or April. Its perfect weather.

GatorGirl GatorGirl January 8, 2014, 2:57 pm

If you want to get adventurous, there is a park just south of Tampa (Fort Desoto) that you can on the beach camp. You have to make reservations way in advance to camp but it’s a really nice beach too.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 3:00 pm

Cool!! I’ll have to look into it. I’m hoping to go to Disney again for a couple days, but other than that the plan is beach drinking :)

GatorGirl GatorGirl January 8, 2014, 3:06 pm

ugh barf Disney. I can’t stand that place lol. Maderia Beach is awesome for drinking on the beach (open containers are allowed). The FL Strawberry festival is also in central FL in early March, I haven’t done yet but I really want to. Also, if you come let me now and I’ll send you a list of beers to try that are FL only.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 3:10 pm

Only heartless people don’t like Disney. Just sayin’
;)
I def will be in touch before I go! Thanks!

Fabelle Fabelle January 8, 2014, 3:20 pm

I hate Disney too, GG

avatar bethany January 8, 2014, 3:26 pm

I HATE DISNEY!
In Laws took us last year and I hated almost every second of it.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 4:14 pm

I don’t understand how anyone could hate it. Its such a happy place. Did you not go to Epcot? Or not see the characters? Were you violently ill the entire time?

othy othy January 8, 2014, 5:39 pm

Don’t hate Disney, but I do think it’s overrated. Of course, my folks live in the Orlando area, so I’ve been there about a million times.

GatorGirl GatorGirl January 9, 2014, 8:13 am

@LBH #1 Orlando is maybe my least favorite place on earth. #2 Children. Specifically other people’s poorly behaved children. #3 When I went as a child I was SUPER sick and now as an adult I get motion sickness. So no fun. #4 Crowds make me anxious.

And I don’t really like cartoons other than the Disney classic movies…so IDK, it’s just not for me.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson January 8, 2014, 2:39 pm

DUDE! Facebook me about how you get alerts. Colin and I want to go to somewhere tropical, preferably Cabo or Peurta Vallarta (cheaper) this spring. We’re really flexible on when we go and for how long, so we just want the best deal. I am like the worst bargain shopper. I decide I want something and then I just buy it. So I essentially never get anything cheap, and I need too because Obama. I’ll explain that later. But essentially, I hate him. So what websites do you know where I can get alerts about cheap, all-inclusive vacations, when I don’t really care where it is as long as it’s nice and warm and safe-ish.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 2:45 pm

kayak! I have one for FL in March and another for Punta Cana right now. Its awesome. You can do plus minus 3 days too. I’m a crummy bargain shopper too, so this is perfect.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson January 8, 2014, 2:48 pm

Oh man I wanna do like plus minus one month.

GatorGirl GatorGirl January 8, 2014, 3:01 pm

Groupon does vacations, but I found their alerts to be annoying after a while. Jetster is another “service” my SIL uses but I never have.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson January 8, 2014, 3:04 pm

Yeah I mean I get enough junk emails (go fuck yourself the limited) that I don’t want just like random alerts for all cheap deals in the city on anything, I want it to be very travel specific.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 3:06 pm

kayak doesn’t harass you

avatar Bugaboo3 January 31, 2014, 3:55 pm

I’m a little late to this party, but I just have to say that cheapcaribbean.com is the BEST site for all-inclusive vacations. I booked my honeymoon to Cancun there, and it was super easy. I am also booking my trip to Jamaica in May through that site.

avatar HmC January 8, 2014, 2:30 pm

Hawaii! Kauai specifically, his mom is actually paying for our honeymoon as our wedding gift (well she’s buying our plane tickets, she owns property in Kauai where we will be staying). Don’t feel sorry for me now do you? Really though I realize how blessed and lucky I am… and honestly I don’t think I got *that* wrapped up in the planning- I threw it all together in 4 months and I didn’t care about a lot of the details that brides seem to. I guess that excitement just kind of snuck up on me and then as soon as I felt it, boom it was gone. Ok that was kind of melo-dramatic… but still, I do feel blue, it’s weird.

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 2:32 pm

So you’re admitted you only married him because his mom has a place in Hawaii? That’s what you’re saying, right? :)

I still feel for you. Its gotta be like coming down off a high.

avatar HmC January 8, 2014, 3:13 pm

Thanks ladies, it’s so nice to know I’m not alone! Each day I feel better… the day right after I was sitting in my living room that looked like a wedding exploded and watching Netflix alone and I was just like, wow am I supposed to feel like someone just died? And I swear I am super stoked to actually be married, I’m not some delusional idiot that only wanted a wedding (I actually barely wanted one at the time). Anyway glad others can relate.

And yeah if marrying someone for their mom’s vacation homes is wrong I don’t wanna be right.

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 2:35 pm

I felt that way too. I planned our wedding in less than five months, didn’t care too much about details — just wanted to share the day with the people who were most important to us — and then as soon as I was excited about all of it, it was over. I had post-wedding blues, but like you, I also had a delayed honeymoon (six weeks after the wedding) and having that to look forward to helped a lot. I got all the thank you’s written and all the chores I’d been putting off done before the honeymoon and then I was really able to relax and enjoy myself.

Hawaii sounds awesome!

avatar HmC January 8, 2014, 3:14 pm

Yep- chores and honeymoons and book clubs, onward and upward!

avatar kerrycontrary January 8, 2014, 2:48 pm

Oof, I know I’m going to have post-wedding blues next fall. I’m actually enjoying the planning for the most part, but some days I also hate it. Today I’m in a good mood about it. We’re not going on a honeymoon until March of 2015 just cause of money/timing (March is such a great vacation time cause its the shittiest month of the year, in my opinion).

avatar HmC January 8, 2014, 3:48 pm

Enjoy it! Seriously for all the seeming annoyances, it is a special time that you won’t get back and won’t get to do again, and it really is kind of cool to be the person in charge of making those little decisions. This is coming from someone who *never* fantasized about being a bride, though I did know I wanted to be married. I’m sorry to give you advice because I know you get inundated when you’re engaged with advice you didn’t ask for, but from my experience, just don’t let yourself get upset over wedding stuff. A wedding is a beautiful thing- bringing people you love to come see a celebration of love. I swear my heart swelled several sizes on my wedding day. Looking back at planning, my only regrets are the few moments that I allowed myself to feel annoyed at late rsvp’s, or unresponsive vendors etc. It all comes together even if there are some hitches, I’m sure you will have a wonderful wedding!

avatar jlyfsh January 8, 2014, 1:44 pm

I am having a rough January so far too. I have been sick since around 6 pm on Christmas day and I am over it. Still don’t have my voice back and I finally caved and decided that maybe I needed to see a doctor. Ugh. Can we have a redo on this January? I think I’m going to pretend that February 1st is the real beginning of 2014. While I’m going to miss my scarves and sweaters I can’t wait for spring here. I redid my living room after I took down Christmas, sort of. I’m hoping that once I feel better I’ll get a chance to make some real changes and do more deep cleaning.

Jackson sounds like some of my friend’s kids. It’s funny how they just change their favorites on a dime. And in some cases it’s Aunts and Uncles who are favorites. My little sister’s niece told everyone at Christmas she was moving in with her because she loved her more, I’m sure that made her parents feel terrific ;)

avatar lemongrass January 8, 2014, 1:48 pm

I got sick Christmas Day too and it’s still lingering. I woke up Christmas to bronchitis and my period.

avatar bethany January 8, 2014, 1:48 pm

I’m sorry, Wendy :(

Even though Jackson doesn’t appreciate you right now, please know that you’re still doing a good job. You’re a great mom. You really are.

My friend’s 3 year old boy is doing the same thing right now. He barely tolerates her, but she’s also got a 1 year old girl who distracts her from the fact that her other kid can’t stand her.

avatar Miss MJ January 8, 2014, 1:55 pm

Aww, Wendy. Hugs. Lots and lots of internet hugs.

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 1:55 pm

I’m still undecided about having a second kid, but sometimes I’m like, “Yeah, we should have another because at least then maybe I could know what it feels like to have a kid who really likes me!” (Also, maybe we’d get a cuddly kid or an easy-going child or one who doesn’t cry freakin’ nonstop for the whole first year!). But then I think, what if #2 doesn’t like me either?! Then, it’s not just the kid or a phase — it’s ME. And I think that would just be such a terrible feeling!

avatar something Random January 8, 2014, 2:13 pm

My first one became WAY more interested with me after his brother came along to (in his mind) compete for my attention. And it totally is a phase.

Also, do you and Jackson ever go on mommy/son dates? Occasionally I will take each boy out for one on one time usually on their terms. Sometimes that means an hour of going up and down the mall escalator and elevator followed by a treat. It may not make your kid take you for granted any less, but at least you can have an hour of fun together. It can be a great pick-me-up.

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 2:30 pm

Oh yes (see my comment below). Every Wednesday and Friday morning is our time together (no babysitter, no daddy, etc.). We do a lot of riding the escalator at the library (I took him there this morning actually, but the escalator was out of service) and we go on subway rides and we go into Manhattan or to the zoo or … all kinds of things. He has fun… he’d just rather be having fun with Drew.

avatar something random January 8, 2014, 3:16 pm

Aw, I’m sure it’s just that he sees Drew a lot less and so there some novelty to when daddy is around. He is probably so comfortable, safe, and secure around you that it hasn’t even dawned on him to pine for you.

avatar csp January 8, 2014, 2:22 pm

When kids have to compete for Mom’s attention, there is way more fighting for affection. You will have the opposite problem. My friend has two kids and is potty training one. The other child feels cheated because of the extra time the oldest gets. trust me, it would be a battle to the death between the two kids.

avatar snarkymarc January 8, 2014, 1:56 pm

To add to the commiseration, my son went through a similar thing when he was a toddler. We adopted him when he was four months old so we were freaked out that maybe he hadn’t bonded with us or that he had too many foster mothers (2) or that my wife was smothering him or that I wasn’t around enough. But after 6 months or so he just grew out of it. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Maybe you can try to do different fun stuff with Jackson so you won’t only be associated with the daily chores that most all 2 year olds hate. Take him to eat unhealthy take-out food or ice-cream once in a while. Maybe take him for a run in the mall. I hope you continue to do the things that you love and give you a break from being a mom. You’ve built an incredible, supportive community here that helps people everyday so I hope that brings you some contentment and joy. I truly appreciate how you’ve helped and improved my life. And I’m sure you’re tired of hearing, but Drew is right, it is just a phase.

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 2:05 pm

Aw, thank you for that. Today is a “Jackson and Mommy” day (meaning no morning babysitter like he has three days a week) and this morning I gave Jackson a lollipop just because he asked for it. Normally, I would never give candy “just because” and definitely not in the morning, but I thought, Fuck it. Maybe he’ll like me better if I give in this time, so I did. It was organic! I also let him watch TV for like 45 minutes (hey, it was 9 degrees outside), and while he was watching, I was all, “Isn’t this fun?! Watching TV with mommy and eatin’ a lollipop!.” I’m sure I’m breaking all the rules, but fuck it. Our nanny says I’m way strict anyway, so maybe it’s time I loosened up a little.

avatar bethany January 8, 2014, 2:22 pm

I think it’s fine to do stuff like that once in a while. I mean, some of my favorite childhood memories are times when my mom let us do crazy shit, like take a cot mattress and lay it on the stairs and slide down it! We didn’t do that kind of stuff every day, or even every month, but it was cool knowing that she might surprise us with something wacky now and then.

avatar tbrucemom January 8, 2014, 2:29 pm

Yep, sometimes you just have to say fuck it and be a fun mom. Believe me, mine are 27 and 18 and giving him a lollipop in the AM and letting him watch tv for 45 minutes, or even longer, is NOT going to make him into some deliquent. Jackson preferring his daddy at this point is kind of like when parents are divorced and the non-custodial parent is usually perceived as the “fun” parent because they get them every other weekend and don’t have to deal with the day to day stuff.

avatar something Random January 8, 2014, 1:57 pm

I’m sorry too, Wendy.

If it helps I just went to a bounce house place with my boys yesterday. The older one pretty much went off to play by himself and I stayed with the two year old to make sure he didn’t get trampled. My two year old mostly didn’t mind until he figured out how to get up the steps and go down a slide by himself. The he told me to wait at the bottom of the slide instead of coming with him. After he went down a couple more times he told me to “go outside”. I guess his embarrassing mom was cramping him style.

avatar Sansa January 8, 2014, 2:00 pm

*Internet hugs* :’(

I’m not a mom, but I babysat my 2 year old God daughter, then just one year old for an entire weekend. The weekend was over, and I was trying to get her out of the apartment to go back to see mommy and daddy (2.5 hours away) and she refused! She wanted to stay with my kitty and me. She said “NO MOMMY AND NO DADDY! MY KITTYYYYYYY!!!” I was like… OMG, this child has been without her parents for 2.5 days and doesn’t want to go back?

I must be super awesome!

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 2:09 pm

Sometimes I wish my daughter were like that. I went away for ONE night without her once and she bugged. And she was like 6 or something.

avatar Sansa January 8, 2014, 2:13 pm

Yeah, parents needs breaks for sure. That’s sad that she was so upset :(

avatar lets_be_honest January 8, 2014, 2:15 pm

Yea, I’m pretty good about getting breaks, but just not nights out of town. It works out fine. Plus I’m not at home all day. I’m sure if I were, I’d need more breaks or weekend trips.

avatar pareo January 8, 2014, 2:02 pm

I don’t have children, but I can emphasize how hard it must be.

Know that you’re not the only mom that has an ungrateful toddler: http://community.babycenter.com/post/a20549715/Parents.

It seems like right now, Jackson wants more attention from Dad and he’s not getting it (or doesn’t know when he’ll be getting it). Since you’re the one spending more time with him instead of Dad, he must assume in his 2 year old head that you’re the one “preventing” him from seeing his Dad. I don’t know if this will help, since it is a different situation, but I like this idea: http://drwolffe.blogspot.ca/2009/03/my-child-hates-me.html. You switch the calendar idea up a bit so that Drew is the one presenting the calendar, with different colors (2 or 3, once again) for you and for him (and one for the babysitter?). Or instead of “days” it could be moments in the day, for example Drew could ALWAYS be the one putting him to bed, or having breakfast or something. If he systematically knows he’ll have “Dad” moments, maybe he won’t be requesting them as much?

Also, Drew has to sound really excited whenever Jackson is spending a day with you, and then you he can stick the dinosaur to the calendar. Maybe even have a special color once a week where you and him do a special activity together he can look forward to (go to the pool? See one of his buddies?). I don’t know if this will help, but I hope it will! And if not, hang in there.

Dear Wendy Wendy January 8, 2014, 2:15 pm

We do have special activities we do together. Every Wednesday and Friday mornings are “Jackson and Mommy” days and we go on (subway) train rides and to dance class and ride the escalator at the library and go to the playground or on play dates or whatever. I always have some activity for us. And Drew gives Jackson a bath every night and breakfast every morning, so they always have that time together. But… Drew is just a more fun parent. And I am more of the disciplinarian. I can understand why a 2-year-old would favor Drew over me. I am probably more nurturing, but nurturing isn’t loud or fun or super high energy and that is what appeals to a typical 2-year-old boy.

avatar kerrycontrary January 8, 2014, 2:52 pm

Oh just an idea, and not to make this a gendered thing, but it came up in my head when you said Drew “appeals” to Jackson more. I think toddler boys like being around adult men. Maybe not all of them, but whenever my fiance’s nephew gets to me around men he gets excited. Like when he met my brother his eyes lit up, and he’s always so excited when my fiance visits. He also shows a lot more respect to his grandfather than his mother (they all live together so its not like its a time spent together thing).

avatar MMcG January 8, 2014, 4:39 pm

Second the boys club theory! My cousin’s 3 yr old all of a sudden became a man’s man about a year ago… only wanted to hug men, hang around men, etc. (to the point where a guy he barely had any time with would get a big high 5 and a female family member who may or may not be grandma got the total shaft – not being the grandma I thought it was funny as hell). He’s more balanced now but it was quite a dramatic turn-around… especially since he had regularly been playing with dolls with his big sister and helping mommy around the house.

Also to keep in mind, toddlers are some of the most selfish creatures in the world. They have to be in order to learn, grow and become more independent, but SELFISH LITTLE BASTARDS… bordering on sociopaths really. A friend referred to her 3 yr old in the following way — “I love her to death, but god damn she’s being such an asshole right now” But they grow out of it eventually ;-)

If it makes you feel any better, my mom tells me that when I was first talking that I would not say Mom/Momma/Mommy AT ALL. She was home with me 24/7 while my dad would be away working half the time and she would apparently look at me and say “momma” and I would look at her and say “Dadda” in response. Over and Over and Over. I was so precious… it’s like I knew it got under her skin and was having one heck of a toddler power trip!

avatar Karen January 8, 2014, 2:25 pm

Hang in there Wendy! And thank you for another honest piece about the struggles of motherhood — I appreciate your candor and your writing.

avatar Thekla Richter January 8, 2014, 2:46 pm

Long-time lurker here and as a fellow mama, I just HAD to drop you a note and send some love your way. We have had favorite-parent phases in our house at times and it really is SO hard. Be gentle with yourself and try to trust in, “It’s just a phase” as much as you can. Kids can really hurt our feelings sometimes and no matter how hard we try not to take it personally, it can be super tough I know. Deep breaths. Even though he’s not good at showing it right now, Jackson loves you. He’ll swing round again to a place where his moods align better with that love. *hugs and sympathy* meanwhile.

Lindsay Lindsay January 8, 2014, 2:54 pm

I feel like this is pretty typical (at least with parents I know), where the parent who spends more time with them is less of a novelty. Even when the parents who stays home is less of a disciplinarian. That might seem odd, but my mom was the “fun” parent when I was little and told her once (at like age 4) that I wished she’d be like other moms (as in, more of a mom and less of acting like a kid). I imagine that if Drew stayed home and you were at work all day, then it might be a complete reversal.

Diablo Diablo January 8, 2014, 3:06 pm

Hey, Wendy, I’m not saying this to depress you more, but i know that i had a shift in my early childhood (I think i was about 3) where I started to identify way more with my Dad. He took me fishing, we watched Star Trek together (the original ’66-’69 run, though i wouldn’t remember anything before ’69) and tried to guess which dot would become the Enterprise, wrassled on the rug, and just generally had a “guy culture” unto ourselves. He took me to hockey games and movies. We were buddies. Try to think of this as a good thing. Lots of my friends viewed their Dads simply as disciplinarians and hardasses. Mine was someone i wanted to become. You know, until i became a teenager and only Johnny Rotten and Saint Joe Strummer could tell me anything.

avatar sarahhhh January 8, 2014, 3:11 pm

Hang in there! It gets better, eventually. My almost 6 year old went through a phase of not really liking me when she was almost 3 (she couldn’t prefer her father really because he wasn’t in the picture much and her now-step dad wasn’t romantically involved with me or a major part of our lives yet, so it’s not like she had a preference over me, she just got mad at me a lot) and my 7 month old has preferred her Dad most of her life so far… and I cannot figure it out, except that I do the boring, sometimes even “mean” stuff like give baths and administer medicine and change diapers and force them into clothes. I dunno. It gets easier though! My oldest now thinks I hung the moon and I can’t figure out why because I’m always trying to force her to eat something healthy and straighten her room. I’m the worst!

Roxy_84 Roxy_84 January 8, 2014, 4:09 pm

My friend is a SAHM to a 2-year old boy (born a month after Jackson) and he is ALL ABOUT Daddy. It’s totally just because Daddy time doesn’t happen as much so it’s more exciting.

avatar Katy January 8, 2014, 4:40 pm

Hi Wendy, I’m a long-time lurker, but I wanted to let you know that my daughter who just turned two is all about Daddy and always has been. My husband works at home and is very involved with her, which is great, but I undestand the type of depression you are talking about.

Mine is often combined with guilt from feeling jealous of their relationship but logically knowing it is good that they are so close. I, too, am the one that does the “hard stuff” like the majority of diaper changes, feedings, night wake-ups, etc., so I understand the resentment that goes along with that as well.

You’re not alone, but I hope you feel better soon.

avatar Evil Charity January 8, 2014, 4:46 pm

That stinks and I’m sorry. I’m the parent of a budding toddler (16 months) and this shit is HARD, yo. Much more so than the baby phase (for me, at least). It’s tough. There is no gratitude. Toddlers are not gracious. My husband and I both work and have developed a theory that our little one doesn’t like to be home because they carry on about how sweet she is a day care and OMG the evenings are rough. Quite frankly, she’s the nicest and most agreeable when interacting with our dog than either of us.

Of course it’s a phase, but knowing that doesn’t really do much to make it easier to deal with the now. Oh well. In parenting, the days are long and the years are short.

avatar SasLinna January 8, 2014, 4:52 pm

Aw, I really feel for you, Wendy! Maybe this doesn’t make sense (since I don’t know much about kids), but like many others I would guess that the role you have in Jackson’s life (main caretaker) is a big part of the explanation. So it’s not you, but the role you are filling in combination with his current age (and maybe his personality/specific preferences). It’s hard being the disciplinarian one, but in reality that’s a really, really important role to play, too. Not saying you can’t be a fun mom from time to time, too – but you’re doing a very important job showing him limits etc. as well!

sobriquet sobriquet January 8, 2014, 6:38 pm

I’m sorry, Wendy! I cannot imagine the constant rejection. I’ve heard that boys are a lot harder than girls when they’re young and vice-versa when they’re older. 2 year old’s haven’t developed the feeling of empathy yet (it’s science!), so 3 should be better! 3 year old’s can empathize and feel embarrassment and a whole slew of emotions that make them more human, less sociopaths.

I was sick for almost 2 WEEKS starting on Christmas day and it was so depressing. I’ve never been so sick. My fiance got sick, too, so we’ve just been stuck inside for what feels like ages. We’ve had 2 stupid arguments this week and it’s only because we’ve been holed in for so long (and also, period). It’s getting better, though. I finally have the energy to cook again and tomorrow night we’re gonna try to go the gym and get back into our routine. Tonight I am making spicy turkey chili and cornbread and we’re gonna drink some chocolate porters while watching the Spurs and finally finish making our save-the-date’s. It’s the most exciting evening we’ve had in weeks!

As for holiday depression, I leave my decorations up until I feel like taking them down. It’s so depressing to spend New Year’s Day tearing down all the Christmas decorations at once, so I don’t do it! I packed up the tree a few days ago, but I still have a ton of decorations up. I’ll do it slowly, 1 thing at a time when it feels right. It helps take the sting out of it. I also deactivated my Facebook account for the time being. I don’t know, it just seems like whenever I’m feeling down, the worst thing I can do is get on Facebook.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson January 8, 2014, 7:04 pm

I’m with you on facebook. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s usually one of the first things I think about when I’m going through a rough time. Even before I had made the decision to move out of my house last winter I deactivated it because everything in my life just felt so chaotic. Even if you never log onto facebook even knowing people can “see” you when you want to crawl in a hole and die is too much. At least for me, haha.

avatar jlyfsh January 8, 2014, 7:25 pm

holy sickness i feel you! i’m getting ready to enter week 3. and i’ve finally given up and asked for help. it’s like the worst flu ever. and not being able to breathe or sleep made me so cranky. i told m that we both had free passes to be whiny because man it is the worst!

FireStar FireStar January 8, 2014, 6:41 pm

Awww. That’s so rough. Hugs to you. My daughter favours her father since he gives her most bottles…while I (soul killingly) pump beside them. One day I’m going to tell her where all that milk came from…cause I’m pretty sure she thinks it’s all daddy.

avatar lemongrass January 8, 2014, 7:11 pm

Go to the spa. Get a massage, or a mani-pedi. Or both. Being a mom is so much easier when you have time to relax and be pampered.

avatar AKchic January 8, 2014, 7:57 pm

After three mama’s boys, I ended up with a boy who didn’t really like me either. He favors his Daddy. Honestly, I like it most days because I don’t have a clingy kid attached to me, but there are days where I miss the cuddles.

The “go aways” are a phase. As much as it hurts to hear him say it, and as much as it’s not a consolation to HEAR it said, I promise, it is just a phase and eventually, he will stop. In fact, sometimes, kids switch it up and the less-favored parent becomes the favored parent.

Enjoy some “Me” time. Don’t force anything. He’ll turn around and depend on you for more than just cleaning.

Jess Jess January 8, 2014, 10:45 pm

Thanks for this today. It helps to know someone else is feeling this way. I also suffer so much at this time of year. All the things you mentioned plus the deep cold we’ve had.

I don’t have the mommy woes but instead trying-to-become-a-mommy woes. Ongoing tests, drugs, treatments, with no results. And watching everyone around me getting pregnant after 1-2 months of trying.

Sigh, on the upside? Some of my best ideas and decisions were born in winter. There is something about the oppression of it that makes me thing bigger, hatch escape plans, vacations, new jobs, hobbies, etc.

Also, I bought myself some new flannel PJs and some silk nighties just to round things out.

Well get to the other side, Wendy, we will.

avatar Lucy January 8, 2014, 11:12 pm

Ha, my 2 yr old granddaughter is doing this to her mom right now. It seems pretty common that the omnipresent parent falls out of favour around this age.

avatar Sara January 9, 2014, 12:37 am

I would like to recommend the youtube video series “Convos with my 2 year old.” It might not make everything ok, but maybe those going through rough times with a toddler will at least get a momentary chuckle.

Skyblossom Skyblossom January 9, 2014, 8:28 am

I had to think about this one overnight because I was totally blank at first. My son is twenty-two so it’s been a while. I think that part of this is that Jackson is identifying with his dad more because he is trying to learn to be a man. Part of it is because he is able to take his time with you for granted, he is very securely bonded to you and doesn’t worry that you will disappear. So you’ve done a lot right.

One thing you can do is sit back and watch Jack and Drew play and mentally compare it to how you play with Jack. Lots of moms tend to try to teach constantly while playing with their kids so when mom plays trains she is saying things like, “see the red train, what color is this?” while dad plays by saying, “choo choo.” So sit back and see if part of it is that Drew is fun by just being there in the moment, just for the fun of it, with no concern about trying to make it anything but what it is.

Another thought is that boys do like action and adventure so if you are playing trains with Jack you can add some excitement by needing him to help or rescue your train. You can do things like derail your train and then call for him to come rescue you. “Help me Jack, I’m off the tracks.” Little boys love to help and love to rescue. You can do the same with matchbox cars if you have a matchbox tow truck. Create a wreck and call for the tow truck to come and get all of the cars. You could even have more cars keep piling up and keep the tow man busy for a long time.

Boys like rough and tumble and if you’re like me you don’t care to get on the floor and wrestle. What I would do was piggyback rides. Fairly boisterous piggyback rides. I’d do the tune, rhythm really, for the lone ranger and bounce upward on about every third beat so that my son bounced on my back, da da dah(bounce) da da dah(bounce) and at the end you can flip them off onto the couch or their bed. This can be exhausting because they want to do it over and over and over.

Another activity he might find appealing is to get a doctors kit and let him doctor you. You can add ace bandages to it or just skip the kit and get ace bandages and let him wrap your foot or ankle. You do something like collapse on the couch and call for Dr. Jack to come take care of your foot. It’s active, it’s fun, it’s creative.

He’s reaching the age where he is going to love role playing and pretend and he will like being able to help or rescue people so you can give him lots of opportunities to combine all of those with little activities like these.

Also, just be silly at times. At his age he probably loves slap stick humor. Have you tried being silly with the hula hoop? Have you tried doing it “wrong” in some way and saying oops loudly when it rolls across the floor. Maybe make it roll across the floor calling out, “runaway hula hoop.”

I wouldn’t say it’s wrong to feed him a lollypop and give him extra TV in an effort to be fun but I’d be very careful about doing that very often. If you do he’ll quickly learn that if he is bratty he’ll get more than if he is nice and he’ll become permanently nasty or manipulative or rude. He’ll learn that if he makes mom think he doesn’t like her he’ll get what he wants. You could try pulling out the lollypop when you’ve had a particularly good morning together or even a very good hour together.

avatar Boosker January 9, 2014, 9:27 am

Man oh man, your parenting posts (like the one about how it actually doesn’t get easier and this one) scare me to death, but I’m so thankful for them. I’m about 5 months pregnant with our first child, a boy. While I hope he’s a perfect sleeper and clingy little mama’s boy, it helps to know that even if that isn’t the case, I’m not alone. Your posts about motherhood are so dang honest. I think sometimes moms (and dads) try to whitewash the parenting image online either to make themselves feel better, gain popularity, etc. This raw honesty you always show is rare and so apprciated. This is definitely a sucky phase/situation, but just know that by sharing you are helping others.

avatar BeckyGrace January 9, 2014, 12:32 pm

I say put some twinkle lights back up! I have snowflake ones that stay up through January – it would be too sad to take them down during this cold, snowy month. You are needed and appreciated by all your readers. I don’t have children of my own but I can’t imagine how tough it is to go through rejection from your own little guy. I think you are handling it way better than I would!

avatar XanderT January 9, 2014, 12:52 pm

Proves my point about mothers in the wild who eat their young being very smart. ;)

avatar Debbie January 10, 2014, 4:19 am

My little boy is just about to turn 4, and he is the youngest of my 4 kids. He absolutely loves his time with daddy, and gets pretty petulant if he doesn’t get it. He also likes his hang out time with mom. When he went through this phase, I found it helpful to treat it just like you would if he were treating another child poorly. If he does something particularly hurtful, like push you away, stop and say, “That makes me sad when you push me.” or even, “Pushing isn’t nice, and makes me sad.” Boys are a bit slower on social cues, so sometimes even exaggerating a sad face a bit helped him recognize what sad was in the younger years. If they shrug it off, don’t push it, but a lot of times they don’t see reactions, so saying something helps make that connection for them. It really only took a handful of times with my son, and now if he gets too spun up, he’ll recognize it and apologize before I even say anything. It really isn’t much different than teaching them how to share or interact with their peers. (I.e.- “It makes Sally sad when you take her toy.”) I hope this helps!

And because I’m a geek, one of my favorite Doctor Who quotes, “There isn’t a boy alive who wouldn’t tear apart the world looking for his Mommy.”

avatar JWo January 14, 2014, 11:41 pm

Delurking to give some sympathy and encouragement! My sister had exactly the same problem with her two sons. They both were much more strongly bonded to their father until about age 3/4 (they are both adopted and joined the family around age 1, so this lasted for about 2.5 years for them). They seem to bond to her more and more as they get older. It seems to me that their attachment to her seemed to grow with their verbal/cognitive abilities. She’s the one they like to talk to–I’m pretty darn sure you’re going to be the one your son will want to talk to considering how good you are at giving advice. She’s the one who creates really imaginative play scenarios that they now appreciate more. It was a phase.

avatar Footsytoesies January 26, 2014, 8:50 pm

Wendy, mine did that to me also at around the same age, but now she is totally a mama’s girl :)

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