Monday, October 23, 2017

Daddy's Girl

Right after I deemed myself fit to give advice on balancing motherhood and personal time I went through a rough patch as a mama. 

Liv has always been a daddy's girl and I feel so grateful to be raising a daughter who has a strong bond with her father. However we recently went through a period of time in which Liv strongly preferred Justin over me, and it broke my heart.

I'm finding that many moments of mamahood feel both beautiful and heartbreaking. My love for Liv is on a whole other level than anything I've ever known and my mix of emotions at most times feels overwhelming. Moments with Liv are euphoric and hard. When she's awake I can't wait for bedtime. When she's sleeping I'm scrolling through photos of her and counting the minutes until she's up. 

Back in August I went to Maine for a summer camp reunion weekend and Justin stayed home with Liv. She asked about me all weekend and we FaceTimed and I missed her more than anything but it felt like a manageable amount of time for us to be apart. 

On Sunday I was depressed to leave such a special weekend but giddy to see my family. I couldn't wait to see Liv and have her run into my arms, to devour her with kisses and cuddles. 

Except she didn't run into my arms. She seemed indifferent at my return. We ventured out to the playground and she wouldn't let me carry her or even pick her up. I did not handle it well. I'm embarrassed to say I threatened to take her home unless she let me carry her. She cried, I cried. It was awful.

She continued to prefer Justin over me for weeks. One Sunday afternoon I wanted to change her diaper but she only wanted Justin. I broke down and was literally crying "I am your mother, let me change your diaper." Not my proudest moment. And probably sounds just weird to people who have not been through this. 

It felt especially hard and hurtful because I'm the mom. I carried her for 9.25 months. I birthed her, breastfed her. I should be her person. Maybe this is a sexist viewpoint. Justin happens to be hands down the best parent ever, definitely better than me. But I'm Liv's mommy. 

I had heard people talk about babies and toddlers preferring one parent over the other. But I always heard about the kid preferring the mom. Being the non-preferred parent as the mother made me feel extra bad - like I must be the worst mom ever. 

I researched and found an article by Janet Lansbury whose approach to parenthood I respect and try to follow. For this particular situation: Play it cool. In other words, the opposite of how I'd been handling it.

I started to loosely follow Lansbury's advice and, also, I was just tired. I didn't try as hard to win Liv over. I think Justin even toned down his playfulness and perfect parenting for my sake :)
Sure enough, Liv came around. She even gives us turns now for reading books, playing, etc. "Mama turn. Dada turn." 
Like any stage in parenthood, everything is always changing. But for now, I'm soaking up her sweetness, her affection for both dada and mama. 


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