Daddy’s Girl

Apologies in advance for the overthinking enclosed within…

This weekend, on our family trip to DC, a painful truth emerged. Margo is a Daddy’s girl.

Not like “oh, whatever, I love my daddy”, but more like “NO! I don’t WANT Mommy, I want Daddy to do (my hair, get me out of the carseat, wipe my butt, etc).” I mean, I’m cool handing off the butt wiping and little things… it’s just awkward for me to feel pushed out. I wouldn’t say she even showed a preference… maybe one day she was more keen on one of us but never a lingering pro-Mommy or Daddy preference. I always was really thankful for that, and hopeful it would stick.

Part of me blames the marathon, which put me in the position of having to be off running while Daddy & Margo bonded. I also know that Scott is this fount of patience, and I’m just not. I know I need to work on that; he’s the fun one.

And then I start getting all mad at myself that I always end up playing with her “and”… meaning if we’re in the playroom doing an activity, I’ll duck into the laundry room to start a load or fold last night’s load. Or if we’re coloring together downstairs I’ll duck into the kitchen and start making dinner or throw some dishes in the dishwasher. She rarely has my undivided attention. She almost always has Scott’s when they’re hanging out. I think that’s a normal mom-problem, but I hate it. (And honestly, I’m not sure when those little things would get done if I didn’t do them sporadically throughout the night, or that it wouldn’t contribute to an overall high-stress Jamie if I waited till she was in bed.)

Part of this is our difference in approach, which might be something we need to address. I don’t want a child that I need to entertain constantly, and I’m welcoming her budding ability to entertain herself while I take care of something else. I encourage her to do stuff herself. Scott’s not *opposite* of those things, but I think I’m a little more “hard core” about it and she’s starting to sense that, perhaps.

In any event, I’m starting to feel like mean, lame mom to Scott’s cool, funny dad. It sucks. I’m trying to be more present, we’re trying to navigate things we can do together to give me the chance to re-bond with my kid. Me and Margo had some good times this week, but it’s mostly when I pick her up from school and Scott’s not there; if there’s ever a “choice,” Scott’s the pick. I’m hoping (oh, God am I hoping) this is a phase and it’ll pass soon. This morning it sort of all came to a head; I was trying to get her ready while Scott got ready & made her breakfast. She wouldn’t. listen. to. me at all. And the more serious I became, the more it was “Daaaaddy, Daddddy.” And the more she did that, the more I got sort of upset, which didn’t do me any favors in the likeability category. Not a great start to a day.

How do I mend our relationship? Wait it out? Give her space or push for more “bonding opportunities?” Or just buck up and realize this is a parenting lesson and we’ll have these times…I’d love to hear about others’ experiences & advice!

& thanks for listening (reading)


12 thoughts on “Daddy’s Girl

  1. It’s age and limit pushing. I have to say K and I are both equally hard asses with Landon. If one is pushing harder one day, he whines for the other. If I don’t read ANOTHER book at bedtime, it is all “I want my daddy” *insert whine*. But right before bedtime it was a fight ending with “mommy do nap” (he calls getting ready for bed nap…anytime of day). Back and forth. Not knockin the boss man but if he is more lax than you, that could be it. And kids need both. Some days the baby has irritated me and I am short with Landon. I feel guilty but then remember his world can’t be rainbows and unicorns. These are the breaks, kid.

    Flip side, try and take 20 minutes to be with just her. It is hard. I know. In the evenings I have been leaving Oliver with K in the house and going outside with landon. I set a timer on my phone to go off at 5:30. We both get to play until then. I try not to play on my phone (well except pictures) and just play. We have imaginary tea parties and roll random crap down a slide. None of it makes sense and I am not pushing anything. His choice. It seems to help. If anything, I feel less guilty. I don’t get much time with him over Oliver so I am trying to be less demanding and more flexible.

    And give yourself some breathing room…you do A LOT. Especially when Scott is out of town. I am not saying go tit for tat on chores and kid time but just suffice to say you have done (and do) your share. i multitask just like you and feel like I am always saying “in a minute” but you are right, you have to do those things! Maybe we can go halvsies on maid…let me just ask the boss man for a raise 😉

    • I was totally doing that 20 min after work *focus time* but sorta fell out of the habit, I guess. We’re fairly even on chores… which I’m really grateful for. But there are certain things, laundry being one, that Scott just has no clue about. He’d never come home and be like “Oh, margo only has one night of PJ’s left, I have to do a load of Margo’s clothes tonight” or “Oh crap, I did a load last night that’s in the dryer & needs folded…” We split the dinner clean up and general clean up well, I think. It’s just little crap that eats away at your mental capacity. For me anyway.

      But yeah. I need a live-in maid (and it’d be great if she cooked too!)

  2. Staying at home, I’m the heavy all the time. Bif comes in, if we’re lucky, an hour before bath/bedtime and it’s like a party erupted. He’s the fun one, and I’m the one that’s constantly correcting bad behavior. Not that we don’t share disciplining. We do. He’s just as tough as I am. In that hour, we rarely need much discipline. Bif is the favored one especially for Ben. I think Cora is still mine…for now. It’s tough. Like you said, you’re forced to duck out and do other things while you’re “playing” with Margo. But leaving that undone isn’t the answer either. I think, maybe, setting up a weekly date of sorts, that’s just you and M might be helpful. But if you’re like me, I struggle with taking that time away, because I also want us together as a family. I don’t have much in the way of advice, but I do share your frustration and hurt feelings. For what that’s worth.

    • You know, this is an excellent point – the “date”… we had a lot of Mommy/Margo time this summer when we were pool-going-folk. We went at least once a week after work. Winter blows.

  3. So many things in this post.
    First, on the preference thing. One of the advantages of two kids the same age is that the boys flip flop. Someone always loves me, which is nice. Very nice!

    Second, I agree with B on some points. You basically have to pick which hill you are willing to die on. Good lesson for all of age 3, actually. Do you care if he’s the one who brushes her hair OR do you want to make the rule that if mom is getting you ready, mom is getting you ready? It really depends on what kind of time you have in the morning but you guys do need to decide that together.

    Lastly on the chore issue, we handle this two ways in our house. We’ve had the boys involved in those chores as much as possible since age 2ish. They help us with laundry, dishes, clearing the table, picking up the house, etc. And for dinner, our rule has always been one parent cooks and the other one cleans up. And also, one parent does bedtime routine while the other parent does all the other chores that need completed. We trade off nights, every other night.

    I do think, as with all parenting things, things tend to get out of balance then you course-correct and things get back in balance. Changes to routine tend to do that at our house!

    • If ONLY I had twins, life would be easier and a kid would always like me. <-what I got from your post. j/k

      I think I could involve M more in chores (we do some, but rarely during that after work witching hour), and I loved what you said about course-correcting. We need to figure this shiz out. Together.

  4. It’s a phase dude, I promise. H has done this several times, taking turns w/ both of us. Sometimes it’s brought on by something–like she’s been w/ one of us all weekend, or one of us has had a rough week with clashing w/ her discipline-wise, etc. We are about as 50/50 as it gets with kid responsibilities, discipline, chores, etc in our house, and I think that helps. She knows whose night it is to do bath/bedtime, and who’s picking her up from school that day, etc–it’s a routine that we try not to break. That’s not always possible though, and I definitely get that. E doesn’t travel, and our daily schedules are consistent, so we’re lucky in that regard. Both of us duck of out one-on-one time with her sometimes to do chores and such. Like you said, that’s just a necessity in the life of a working parent.

    But if she throws a fit because she wants me to do bath when it’s E’s turn, or something, we make sure to stand firm. We very rarely give in. If I’m the “bad one” that she doesn’t want, E makes sure to not give in, and calmly (well, we try. lol) reminds her it’s mommy’s turn, or whatever, and physically removes himself from the situation. Staying calm is big (but darn near impossible sometimes)! The second we flip out on her (uh, I mean, not that I’ve ever done that. lol), it’s over. But we make sure to always be a unified front where she’s concerned. None of that “mommy said no, so I’ll ask daddy” stuff (not that she doesn’t try). Sometimes when I can tell she’s in a mood like this, as if I just can’t do anything right. I just take a moment and pick her up, speak to her calmly, and just snuggle her a bit. I’ll change the subject to distract her, and usually I can eventually reel her back in this way. I was late to work today because of a situation just like this, but oh well. 🙂

    All that aside, try and relish it. It’s hard when you’re feeling shafted or left out. But there really is nothing sweeter than a little girl who worships her daddy. 🙂 Them being super close doesn’t mean your relationship with her is broken or any less strong. It’s not about who she loves more, it’s a battle for control. Its always about control. Because, well she’s almost 3 and that’s how 3 year olds roll. 🙂 Hang in there, Mama!

    • Thanks, Jill. I hope you’re right & this phase is up soon. Boy oh boy has she knocked me down a few pegs! lol… I do love seeing them together, and I’m not “competitive” about it at all… like I just really don’t want to have hate spewed at me first thing in the morning! 😉

  5. Thanks for the thoughtful comments – I think we might be sort of getting blindsided a little by the increasing need for discipline/limit pushing and might need to have a parental meeting. Not that we’re way far apart in our discipline style/what we put up with, but I think she’s sensing the differences btwn us.

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  7. Have another. Then she’ll want you all. the. time. 🙂

    But seriously, she’ll swing back. Sometimes they both fight over one of us for two weeks…then it’s the other. Focus on what feels like it’s not going right for YOU Mama – that’s most likely where the problem lies. Inevitably, when I embark on a time-consuming adventure that takes time away from what used to be kid-time (like marathon training, a work project, a new yoga session, a few regular evenings away either to work, grow, or try something new, etc.), I do feel a sadness that we miss some bonding-closeness time. But it was still time well spent that renews me for the next phase of more kid-time, less me-time. And my kid gets to bond with someone else who loves them – excellent. As long as you feel like you and Scott are on the same page about splitting responsibilities and which hills to die on, the pendulum will swing back the other way. Ditto Jill – it’s control and power. Definitely invite her to help you with the chores – that is as good as playing to a 3 year old! I always try to think about moms who didn’t have all these automatic appliances or supermarkets – do you think they felt guilty about not sitting down on the floor to play with their kids?? This was a good read: The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson.

    Big picture? She is most surely going to be a well-balanced, productive member of society some day because you are a parent that even thinks this much 🙂

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