I’ve made no secret of the fact that Taylor has always been a Daddy’s girl; from the moment she was born and I saw her on Dad’s chest – content for the first time in this new world – I knew that it was always going to be that way. And who could blame her? Her Dad is a special kind of guy – funny and caring, doting but also pretty cool at the same time. He’s the man I married and Taylor loves him for all of the same reasons that I fell in love with him.
But what of mum?
I’ve always laughed off Taylor’s disregard for me, preferring to brush it aside as a phase and convince myself that she just takes me for granted. After all, I spend every day at home with her whilst Dad’s a novelty, someone new to play with for the few hours that she sees him each day – it’s no surprise that my child rejects me when he’s around.
But when I look back, it’s often been this way.
In the first few months when all she seemed to do was cry, it was Dad who seemed to be better at comforting her. No matter what I did, she rarely seemed completely content with me. I would spend hours pacing the bedroom floor, singing lullabys, feeding, swaddling and then re-swaddling, trying to rock her in a different way, more feeding, but I was very rarely able to sooth my baby girl to sleep. In all fairness, both of us struggled, but Dad did seem to have a better ‘knack’ – I put it down to him being bigger than me, more reassuring.
We couldn’t get on with breast feeding (and trust me when I tell you that I tried). I was determined to carry on as I naively thought (or rather I’d had it instilled in me by the health service) that feeding my daughter myself would help us to bond. I felt like a failure when I had to give it up – going through all of the pain, yet still not able to produce enough milk to nourish my daughter. The switch to bottle feeding was a revelation for the two of us and we were both so much happier – yet deep down I was a little disappointed that my ‘mother duty’ of feeding my baby could now be shared by everyone.
Taylor (like many kids her age) is pretty forward in her communication. It seemed that from the minute she came out of the womb she’s always been very vocal in letting us know what she does and doesn’t want – at first with incessant crying (i’m having trouble adjusting!), later with insistent gestures (I want another one of those!) gleeful clapping (aren’t I clever?) and now back-arching tantrums (but I don’t want to get in my car seat!)…
So her frequent preference for Dad over Mum is just as blatant. It started out with her holding her arms out for Dad to take her whenever I was holding her. Now she follows Dad around with her arms held up pretty much whenever he’s around.
Attempts by me to pick her up are met with her arms flying up in the air making it impossible. If I do manage a cheeky cuddle she’ll wriggle free within a couple of seconds. If I lean in for a kiss I often get met with a hand to the face…
Taylor’s also fiercely independent, and to be honest this is what I love so much about her character – she’s never been needy and she’s always been happy around new people. She’s highly sociable and she’s got a feisty determination.
She started at nursery just last week and she actually had a tantrum about leaving with me when I went to collect her on the second day. I had to man-handle her out of there, throwing her over my shoulder kicking and screaming like I was trying to take her away from her mother (oh wait, that’s me!) I’m thrilled she loves nursery so much, but surely that can’t be normal??
Google hasn’t helped to put my mind at ease. I (may have) searched ‘why does my child reject me’ on a few occasions, but all it had for me was that young children will have a preference for their primary care giver, since they’re the one who can better understand their needs. But I am the primary care giver!! Apparently, your child can change towards you when you go back to work. But Taylor’s only in nursery for two days, and anyway – Dad has always been at work.
Perhaps I’m not fun enough or haven’t paid her enough attention? I’m often busy dashing around the house, making beds, washing up, preparing dinner. But isn’t every mum? I make a conscious effort to play with her throughout the day. Seriously, I know I’m not a bad mother.
I don’t want this to come across as a ‘woe is me’ post – I’m not really one for feeling sorry for myself and believe me when I say that my daughter gives me so much more than the odd feeling of rejection. She’s such a happy, expressive and confident child and every day she makes me laugh out loud and feel so proud. I wouldn’t change a thing about her, and I guess this is a part of her defiant character which is just presenting itself in this way.
I suppose I just wanted to write it down to let other mums out there who may be experiencing the same thing know that they aren’t alone.
I know deep down that she loves me very much – I just have to look a little closer for the signs. She follows me around the house, shouts out for me to check I’m nearby, calls ‘mamma’ when she’s particularly tired or upset, and always looks to me for approval after she does something that she thinks is clever, naughty or new (even if Dad’s there!).
I know that if she was particularly needy of me, I’d find that difficult too.
Have you ever had your child reject you? I’d love to hear your experiences x