February 29, 2012

Becoming Daddy's girl

She no longer nurses at my breast. But that is the place SB seeks out when she is sick. She sits in my lap, facing me, wraps her arms and legs around me and buries her face in my chest. She will sit that way for hours, her fever burning us both up.

And that was how it started this time.

But suddenly, something was different. She wanted Daddy. She left my lap to sit in his. Faced away from him, her back against his chest, arms and legs splayed in every direction. She melted into him, totally relaxed.

In the wee hours of the night, for the first time, her calls were for Daddy. But he has trained himself to sleep through her cries. They never have been for him before. Deep in his subconscious mind, he knows I will wake and care for her.

And I do. Even though it isn't me she wants this time. I climb the stairs to her room and am relieved when she is happy to see me. I soothe her back to sleep and return to my own bed, but do not find rest.

The shift has started, I think to myself. She is becoming Daddy's girl.

I knew this day would come. When I found out we were having a girl, I thought immediately of the cherished relationship I have with my father. And I was so happy for hubby.

But I also wondered how I would feel. Would I would be jealous? Would I feel left out? Would I be resentful?

After all, I'm the one who dealt with a "high risk" pregnancy, giving birth to her at 40. Underwent major surgery to bring her into this world. I nurtured her at my breast, never getting a break because she refused to drink from a bottle.

I gave up my career to stay home with her. By choice, yes. But that proved to be the most isolating experience of my life. And was far more difficult than I had bargained for.

I knew the switch would come, someday. The bond between father and daughter is a special one. Mother-daughter relationships tend to involve conflict and power struggles. But little girls love their Daddies. Would I be able to respect and embrace their relationship?

The answer has surprised and strengthened me. It is a resounding yes.

My love for my husband has grown a hundred fold since we became parents. Watching him with SB makes my heart sing. Their relationship can frustrate me at times. I tend to be the bad cop to his good cop in certain situations, for example.

But I am thrilled SB has a strong, loving, involved father in her life. He has strengths and characteristics to offer her I do not. And their positive relationship through the years will help her build the same with other men later in life.

I have my own place in our family unit. And it is up to me to build the kind of relationship with SB I want us to have. One based on trust and respect and love. Hubby and I are both important influences on her life.

I offer SB things hubby can't. And vice versa. There will be times she will prefer one of us over the other. To share her secrets with. To confide in. To seek comfort from.

We are a parenting team. Successful teams consist of individuals with different attributes who complement each other and contribute to the success of the whole. We're not competing against each other. We're working together to raise a human being.

How truly blessed we are.
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