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How to Become the Favorite Parent in 2 Easy Steps

1. Love your kids.

2. Run away. Fast.

Lately my kids have been making me feel young again. Unfortunately, though, it's not in some healthy or sprightly kind of way. No, it's more like how you felt in third grade when someone liked you and you didn't like them back quite like that, which just made them chase after you even harder, which made you want to run away even faster.

Jimmy Kimmel recently asked kids to say which parent they love more, although he didn't bother asking either of my daughters. He didn't need to, as it's not a secret: I'm the undisputed king of the castle and queen of their hearts.

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This isn't so much a humble brag as it is a silent alarm: My daughters are obsessed with me in a "Fatal Attraction" kind of way. If I had a pet rabbit, I would have put it into the witness protection program by now. My 6-year-old tells me frequently—in a stage whisper—that she loves me more than anyone, and nothing or no one will ever stop her from loving me. Last weekend when I was putting her to bed, she said, "If I were a girl who wanted to marry a girl, you're the only girl I'd want to marry."

(My kids) seem to think inhaling or exhaling without sharing my oxygen is a catastrophic failure for which a culprit must be named and hanged.

It was a sweet sentiment, but also one that comes with an enormous responsibility. I mean, I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with my kids, too, and love and adore them endlessly, but unlike them, I'm perfectly OK with not sharing every breath I take with them. Some space away from them is occasionally nice. They, on the other hand, seem to think inhaling or exhaling without sharing my oxygen is a catastrophic failure for which a culprit must be named and hanged.

My husband thinks I exaggerate when I say our 3-year-old has days when she must kiss and hug me once every minute, followed each time by a declaration of undying love and devotion. This can go on for hours, unless I can distract her with a shiny object or some chocolate, and even then, she'll just come back and stick her chocolate-coated mouth or the shiny object on or in my mouth, clearly thinking to love someone is to ingest them or be ingested by them.

I'm not sure how my status as most-beloved-parent came to be, exactly. I suppose it helps (hurts?) that I've been with them nearly non-stop since birth. I might be a little too Martha Stewart-y, having one too many craft projects available on school holidays and vacations. I also have this way of knowing what they want before they even know they want it, or knowing what they want better than they know themselves. They seem to like that.

But it's not all open-mouth kisses and rainbows.

"Mommy, will you wipe me?" my 3-year-old will holler from the bathroom.

"I'll do it," my husband will call back to her.

"No!" she'll cry. "I only like MOMMY to wipe my butt!"

They don't want anyone else to cook for them, cuddle them or volunteer in their classrooms. Thankfully they'll let my husband bathe them, although that's only because he'll actually give them a bath while I just do showers. I mean, I can bathe them, but I just choose not to because I'm not fun like that.

They'll be swinging on the playground and beg for me to do an underdog, to which I always reply, "Nope, can't do it. Sorry, I'm just not a fun mom." They seem to think that's funny, although I never say it as a joke. I don't actually think I'm fun, which they think is hilarious.

My poor husband isn't especially amused by it though. He's like a walking, talking one-man band, literally juggling, performing tricks and standing on his head to get their attention. He'll bring home books or other treats to try and entice them to Team Daddy, but they are lifelong members of the Mom Party.

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Like a junior-high school girl with an unrequited crush on the boy with a proclivity for wearing the same T-shirt for weeks on end, or the inexplicable popular "The Bachelor," who most women would never give a second glance to if he didn't hold the hope of a Neil Lane diamond ring if they can just manage to tread water and not get eaten alive by sharks for a few weeks—it would seem the secret to being a heartthrob is giving just enough to get them hooked, but then holding back at the right time to appear more mysterious and desirable than you probably are.

Sure, there's a part of me that relishes the attention and affection, but I wouldn't mind sharing some of it, especially with my husband, who is practically starved for it. I keep telling him to not try so hard, but he can't help it. He mostly goes about it in the right, or at least the healthy way, but the results are still all wrong—or in my case, all Mom.

Image via Meredith Carroll

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