Her face was red with anger and streaked with tears as she screamed at the top of her lungs for her father. I’d never heard such urgency in her voice, or seen such fury in her eyes as she swatted at me from her crib.
I hadn’t done anything except to try to put her to bed.
Like I do every night.
After tenderly nursing, cooing, cuddling, and cradling her.
Emily is two and a half and she is in a mega-daddy’s-girl phase. She wants him to play with her, carry her, change her and dress her. She wants to hold his hand. She wants him to be the one who buckles her into her car seat. She wants him to help her brush her teeth. If I try to assist her with a task, she pushes me away and says, “NO, Mommy! Daddy doos it!”
It breaks my heart.
Emily has always been my delightful cherub. She was a relatively easy and placid baby, and has grown into a generally compliant toddler, as far as toddlers go anyway. At 30 m0nths, she still nurses first thing in the morning and right before bed, but she is showing signs of weaning, such as only partaking in one “side” in the morning before she rolls over to say, “Morning, Daddy!” and ask for his iPad.
It breaks my heart.
Her face was primal in its rage. The way she howled for her father reminded me of videos of those angry and aggressive little monkeys being confronted with a captor.
I wanted nothing more than to dissolve into tears, but my distraught brain was still capable of the rational thought that she’s only two and a half and this is just a phase.
I think Jack went though such a phase, but I don’t think it felt nearly so personal. I mean, my husband is pretty great. He’s more laid back than I am, plays more and worries less. So, it is only natural my kids would gravitate to him. Additionally, I know that it is a “normal” developmental phase for a child to gravitate more to one parent than another.
It isn’t anything to be taken personally.
And yet, it feels keenly personal.
I wonder if it is a gender thing, or if it is because Emily is my last baby and I wanted to keep her for myself just a few minutes longer, but oh man, it stings.
My husband came into the room and hugged her. He settled her down and covered her up. Then he said good night and went to put Jack to bed, leaving me with Em. I gulped a sob back into my chest.
“That made mommy sad, Emily,” I said. I couldn’t help myself.
“Sowee smacking, Mommy,” she whimpered. She stood up in her crib and patted my face. “Mah milk, Mommy,” she said. She crawled out of her crib and into my arms. She patted my face, played with her foot, and held my hand as she nursed. She made goo-goo eyes at me, and hummed and chuckled in the back of her throat.
“Mommy loves you, Em,” I said. She crinkled up her eyes in the funny little eye-smile-thing she does when she is nursing. Then she crawled back into her crib, blew me a kiss, and sang quietly to herself as she drifted off to sleep.
Has your toddler/baby/child ever preferred your partner over you? How did you handle it?