Catching Up


My husband is the kind of father who rushes home from work at 5 to spend as much time with his children as he can.

He bathes our daughter, puts her to bed every night, reads her dozens of books everyday and takes her on special outings to the grocery and hardware stores.

I realize his parenting skills are at least in the 90th percentile among fathers. This generation of fathers is certainly more involved than our parents’, but most mothers I know still do the bulk of the child rearing.

Here’s the thing: they also get the rewards. Their children come to them when they fall, they cry for “mommy” when they have a nightmare and they prefer their mother over everyone else.

Not my daughter.

The other night, she had a diaper rash to severe, it made her scream and thrash on the changing table. She only wanted her daddy. If I tried to approach, she acted as if I planned to apply rubbing alcohol. “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” she screamed as she pushed me away.

Ouch. Her bum may have hurt, but I was the one most scarred. And it is not the first time.

Sam almost always prefers her father—when she is hurt, when she is happy, when she wants to play. I have to sit on the sidelines. At home, it is hurtful and hard, but in public it is downright shameful. All over the Children’s Museum, park and mall, tiny babies cling to their mamas.

Not my daughter.

I fear it means I am a bad parent. Everyone tells me their daughter is a “daddy’s girl,” too. “It is just a phase”; “She just does not get to see him as much.”

The thing is, I know they are wrong. He is the better parent. She feels closer to him. I trudge on trying to remember that I am the adult, that she does not know she is hurting me. But it is hard sometimes to be constantly pushed away in favor of the Big Man on Campus.

I am happy they are close. I really am. But once in a while, it would be nice to hear her call for her mommy. And then I remember that for almost two years, the kid was all mine both in my body and nursing for a year once she was out.

Her father is just trying to catch up.

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