I had a moment of clarity recently.
I was out with some girlfriends and we were chatting about life and kids and my one friend raised the fact that her two-year-old daughter is in a “daddy phase” and that it hurts when she only wants to be with dad. She’s with her all day; he see’s her after work and plays. We discussed possible causes and phases kids go through, and that it really isn’t a reflection on her.
I was limited in real-life advice because we deal with the opposite at our house.
I have two daughters in what appear to be a persistent “mommy phase.”
They love dad. And are quick to state they “want daddy” when I’m not giving them what they want. They also happily spend hours with daddy. He is awesome and does many fun things with them.
But when the glitter is about to be washed off the My Little Pony shirt because daddy wants to put it in the laundry without TURNING IT INSIDE OUT; or we need a make-over; or a movie night; or water painting; or there’s multi-part princess stories to read; or fear or sickness in the night, it’s all about mom.
Seriously, I’ve taken to reinterpreting pop culture references to my current life-stage.
Any V.C. Andrews fans in the house? If so, how about Cathy’s description of the zero-boundary issues of her new husband Julian in Petals on the Wind (1980)?
And all the time Julian stayed glued to my side. Privacy was something he’d never heard of and had no respect for. Even when I was in the bathroom he had to be there, so I’d race to lock the door and leave him pounding. “Let me in! I know what you’re doing, why all the secrecy?” – pg 209
It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do
I want to spend each moment of the day with you
I just want to be beside you everywhere
As long as we’re together, honey, I don’t care
‘Cause you’ve started something
Oh, can’t you see?
That ever since we met
You’ve had a hold on me
No matter what you do
I only want to be with you
I think of both in my most-est moments of preschool love.
Dad, notwithstanding the mommy-focus, which is at times just awkward and at worst hurtful, has created some unique space with them too – they build killer snow forts and rule McDonald’s Playland together.
But there remain many times – like when my daughters fight over which one I get to put to bed (seriously, we have a schedule and there’s still issues) – where I feel both overwhelmed and intimidated. Having that much control over anyone’s happiness is scary.
But that recent conversation with my friends drove home first how happy I am to be a parent and second that I’d chose my current claustrophobic love challenge in a second over an alternative where both kids yell for my husband.
I applaud her strength at dealing with that because it still hurts when my kids call for daddy when they are angry at me for some transgression. I don’t know how well I’d deal if there wasn’t an obvious cause other than the fact that they are young and pushing boundaries and don’t yet understand the cruelty of their words to someone they love.
Ideally, I’d like our kids to enjoy being with both of us equally. I think we’re getting there. Either way I’m thankful neither have yet had a stage where they didn’t want to be with one of us at all.
I also ultimately know that “mommy phase” with me is going to end, much like “daddy phase” will end for my friend. Because they grow and change so fast.
I know there has been much cringing and hand wringing on various parenting blogs about the well-intentioned advice from our elders to “cherish every moment”.
Because we don’t.
I was up at 4:00 am on Monday washing vomit from my 2-year-old’s hair before taking her to bed with us hoping she didn’t spew chez nous.
There was no joyous posting of those moments to Facebook and no associated Pinterest craft to share. My “busy bag” was two loads of laundry.
This stage of parenting is hard. And we don’t have the rose-coloured perspective of 20 years to yet mute memories of some of the daily sparkle pony trauma.
But those offering that sage advice are also right. So much of it is wonderful. And I do everything I can to enjoy THOSE moments. Because they are as joyful as they are fleeting. I blog in part to write them down. It both keeps me on the lookout for them and helps me remember.
Because small moments matter.
And I’m reminded in small ways daily that, so often, my girls just want to spend time with me, however that might be.
I remember a few weeks ago asking my eldest if she wanted to help me empty the dishwasher.
Do I ever!
Zero irony. She then proceeded to be very helpful.
My youngest currently won’t let me leave on a grocery trip without her because she wants to help and has worked out this is time for just the two of us.
Well, before bed, after calling Mami (my mother-in-law) with Daddy, they requested a dance party in the living room.
We hooked up my IPhone to the speakers and danced about to Frozen and Barbie’s Princess and the PopStar.
For Frozen, despite the fact that WE ALL KNOW Elsa just shoots her magic from her hands, my eldest whipped a Canadian flag around like a wand to create the palaces of ice and other winter magic.
It was fun to watch and seemed appropriate.
We then read stories together – including one about Olaf needing a hug – before going to bed.
These are the moments I hope to remember.
What about you? Thoughts on cherishing every (or selective) moment(s)? Did your kids favour one parent over another at times? If so, how did you deal with it? Do you read/hear pop culture references differently as a parent?