Heather wrote yesterday about how close she and Annie have grown of late, and something happened a couple days ago that really drove that point home. Annie was sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for me to prepare her dinner, when she suddenly said, “I like Mama more than you.” I stopped dead in my tracks.
“What did you say?”
“I like Mama more than you.”
I just stared at Annie, undoubtedly looking like I’d been sucker punched in the gut. Perhaps because of this, Annie corrected herself and said, “I like Mama and you.” I nodded and went back to preparing her food, but couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d said.
I knew, of course, that I should just forget about it, especially since Annie is only three and probably didn’t even know what she was saying. Furthermore, it isn’t a competition, I told myself, and there’s no mistaking that Annie loves me – she showers me with hugs and kisses all day long, cries whenever I leave the house, and snuggles up to me on the couch every chance she gets. Heck, she won’t even let me go to the bathroom without talking to me through the door the entire time.
I knew, too, that Annie had begun to identify with Heather as a woman. She loves to watch Heather put on dresses (and to look through her clothes in our closet), she studies Heather as she applies her makeup, and she insists on helping Heather comb her long hair. It’s very sweet to see the bond she and Heather are forging as women.
I also told myself to toughen up because Annie will undoubtedly say something far worse to me some day. Somewhere down the line Annie will utter “I hate you,” or even that old chestnut, “I wish you were dead!” Yup, I am in for a lot worse and need to toughen up.
Even though I knew all of this…
…it still hurt.
There’s part of me that’s really happy that Annie and Heather have grown so close. For the longest time Heather fretted that Annie preferred me to her, and I told her not to worry, her time would come. Now that it’s here, though, I’m coming to understand just how hard it is to be second best.