The Daddy Phase: My Heart Belongs to Daddy

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daddyphase-fb1 Am I jealous? Yes. Am I hurt? Yes. Is my husband loving it? Totally. Over the last year, it’s oh too clear that my now 3-year-old daughter, Little D, would rather hang with her Yes Man Papa and he’ll rub it in. He’ll say things to me in a slightly patronizing tone like, “She loves you too. . .” as she buries herself in his chest and they snuggle, with no desire to let me into their love fest. But he’s really saying, “I’m loving every second of this—get used to it.” And I get it. Before, when she wanted to be comforted, 75 percent of the time (by my calculations) she wanted her mother. But I will always feel like she just HAS to care about me more: She grew in MY belly and was nourished by MY milk and she was buried in MY chest for the majority of her life. Now I’m the one who’s wanted just 25 percent of the time. Thanks, kid. It’s her daddy’s turn, and he deserves it because, frankly, he’s an awesome dad, simply an awesome parent. She SHOULD care about him more. And this timing is pretty much in step when psychiatrists say it’s going to happen, says an article in Today’s Parent: “Dad becomes fascinating, because the child has been ‘part of mom’ for so long and is so used to her presence. Dad is suddenly novel and interesting.”

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  We’re both working parents, so we actually have the same exact amount of time to spend with her, which is not a lot. (We calculated that she spends as many hours in school as she does waking hours with us each week. Sad at times, but true.) Which makes whoever isn’t the favorite of the time feel ever the more slighted. I think about my own father and, honestly, don’t ever recall going through a Daddy phase with him, until fairly recently . . . actually, it’s now. It took me four decades to get here. Is it a coincidence that just as my daughter is wrapped up in her father that I now, after all this time, want to be closer to my own? I wonder. Seeing my own little girl, and the love I have for her, I feel so frightened for her all the time. Or rather, frightened by the thought of losing her at any moment. It’s a terrible way to live, I know, but it’s a hard feeling to shake. (I’ve had the same love for my animals, too!) With my father, now in his mid-70s, I have this same feeling of “oh shit, I need to get to know him better, I need to help him, I need to be there.” There’s not much time. I’ve been close to my mom all my life. 2015, it’s time for the Daddy Phase. There’s no age limit for wanting to bond with your father—or grandfather.

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I’ve read other articles that say the Daddy Phase for toddlers will pass, telling mothers not to worry, but, if my daughter being wrapped up in her father continues to make her as happy as she is now, I hope it never ends. As for my father and me, I believe this is a new beginning for us, and I hope I find such happiness in my relationship with him, just in time for Father’s Day, and coincidentally his birthday. Wish us luck!

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