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They all preferred their Dad; part two

July 17, 2012

Before we had children I had absolutely no inkling of what it was like. No insight or empathy whatsoever. Never even thought about it. Hadn’t grown up with lots of rugrats around so was not at all in tune. And when the first one arrived boy was it a shock. I did not experience the overhwelming rush of maternal instinct as he appeared, I went in to clinical overdrive and assisted the obstetrician by opening the sutures for him as he was sewing me up after the forceps .

When the kids were small we had three under 4 and it was full on. Relentless stuff, but it gave me an incredible respect for single parents. How do they do it? I have absolutely no idea. I was always so pleased when my husband came home to share the responsibility. And do all the stuff that he did. And he was great with them. And because I was around during the days, when he was around they wanted him not me. I wasn’t hurt by this at all. I loved it. Other Mums would be concerned that I felt unloved.  Or jealous that they preferred their Dad to me.  Until they said it, it hadn’t even  occurred to me to see it in that light. I was  too busy relishing the freedom it gave me.  It meant if they had an option as to which parent to go to, they would choose him rather than me and that gave me some space. And the best thing was when we went out as a  family they all clamoured to sit on his knee or hold his hand rather than mine, leaving me free to mingle, chat, refill my wine glass and generally have a grownup time.

two way adoration

And one of the girls loved her Dad so much that she became extremely possessive of him and jealous of me.  She would flirt like mad with her Dad. And I mean serious flirting. The coy looks,  the fluttering eyelashes, the throwing her arms round him, leaning in to him, draping herself around him, stroking him and looking adoringly in to his eyes. I don’t know where she picked it up from because I am completely non-tactile. And she hadn’t seen TV at this stage. So it must be an innate behaviour. But if you’d seen her aged two or three, you could have thought she was extremely precocious.

If her Dad and I embraced she would squeeze herself between us and push me away. We found it amusing and would sometimes do it deliberately to watch her muscle herself inbetween our legs to break us apart.  But she went to another level one morning when I was still in bed and he brought me a cup of coffee. She followed him in to the bedroom and stood between us at the bedside. Me lying at one side of the bed, her standing next to me and hubby beyond her. Hubby bent over her to kiss me whereupon she immediately slapped me. Hard. Presumably in a jealous rage and unable to articulate her feelings. We were somewhat stunned. And she was mortified that she was told off for hitting.

unconditional love

We were worried this devotion to her father was going too far, especially as my aunt, a reknowned child psychiatrist, was coming to visit  and we were worried she would think something very untoward was going on. I knew I had always been a ‘Daddy’s girl’  but as far as I’m aware I didn’t take it out directly on my mother. I remember tearing at my father’s face in anger when he returned from work having left the house the previous morning without saying goodbye to me. He had picked me up as I raced down the stairs to meet him and I had ripped his forehead. Blood everywhere. He did well not to just drop me. I am reliving that emotion as I type I can remember it so vividly. So, I was aware of Daddy worship. But our daughter’s seemed extreme even by my standards.

In fact, having my father’s sister visit us was opportune and reassuring.  She explained about children of this age discovering their gender identity and where they fit in the world. She was testing out her power, place and role, and our response to make it clear we both loved her but that she  couldn’t come between us allowed her to understand her boundaries. But basically she was practising her heterosexuality.

And having been there at the beginning, I don’t envy any woman who comes between our daughter and her man.

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