So, for the first two and a half years of Emmy’s life, she was virtually attached to my hip. Often, she was LITERALLY attached to my hip, clinging to my neck with one arm, shoving her other arm and hand down my blouse to make sure her breast friends were still there, and locking her little legs around my waist.
I don’t think I really begrudged Em’s attachment to me. I mean, it kind of felt nice to play the role of “Center of the Universe” in my daughter’s life. But I DID feel bad for my husband. Most of the time, Em saw him as just another person who was trying to get between her and her mommy. When I would hand her off to C so I could take a five minute shower, she would begin howling like a wolf, would squiggle out of his arms, run to the bathroom door, and would then scream my name through the door for the full length of time it took me to clean myself (and I would be chanting “take me away, Calgon” the whole time).
Well, the days of the Mama Love Fest are apparently over. WAY over. I am definitely NOT top dog in our household anymore. I have taken off my crown and sash, and handed them to my husband, because it is SO official: Dada Rules.
Of course, part of the reason WHY Dada rules is because with Dada, THERE ARE NO RULES. Whereas I employ the “I’m gonna count to three,” rule, the “this is your second warning,” rule, the “you cannot play until you finish your lunch,” rule, and the ever-popular “because I SAID SO” rule, Dada is a lot more lenient in his governing.
The kids were home sick (with PINK EYE! YUCK!) a few weeks ago, and my husband generously volunteered to stay home with them so I would not have to take time off from my very new job.
Now, if I had stayed home with the kids, despite being ill, they still would have had to eat a decent lunch, help clean up their playroom, and take a bath. With Dada in charge, our house becomes a frat house, with the kids running around in togas, doing keg stands, and screaming so loudly the neighbors call the cops on us.
Ok, maybe it’s not THAT bad. But when I called home from work to check in on how my husband and the kids were doing on their day off from school and work, my husband gave me this run down:
“Well, we played with the bubble machine for four hours. Then Em and I went to the movies, and we got popcorn and a huge bag of gummy bears. She ate the whole bag. Now we are going out for ice cream.”
If we were to hold an election for President of the Household, Dada would win hands-down, campaigning with slogans such as “Want Chocolate Cake for Breakfast?” and “You Look Great with Underwear on Your Head! Vote for Dada!”
Of course, Dada can be a serious parent, too. When I am home with him and the kids, he is an AMAZING partner, volunteering to get the kids bathed, making sure the kids get dressed for school, brushing their teeth, AND he reads Emmy her bedtime stories EVERY NIGHT (when I volunteer to read Emmy her books instead of Dada, she starts to whimper and then has a panic attack). My husband somehow makes even the daily grind seem more fun and silly than I ever could. As I prepare dinner downstairs, I hear Dada making silly jokes and the kids giggling hysterically as they get their pajamas on upstairs. Even with a simple task like getting the kids into the car to go shopping, Dada somehow makes it a fun and magical experience.
It’s not that I don’t have fun with the kids. I TOTALLY do. But it is very apparent, from the adoration and enthusiasm the kids have for Dada, they CLEARLY have more fun with him than they have with me.
I get it. If I had to choose between myself and my husband, I would choose him in a SECOND. Kind of why I married him.
So, this is where things stand. I had a great run as the Center of the Universe. I now enjoy watching my children follow my husband around the house like two little groupies begging for autographs. I love seeing him sitting on the couch with my daughter tucked under his arm and my son sitting on one knee. I think it is great that the first thing the kids say when they wake up in the morning is “where’s Dada?” and the first thing they say when we get home from school is “where’s Dada?” and that the other night my son screamed “DADA!!!!!!!!!!!!” instead of “MAMA!!!!!!!!!!” when my husband and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. Most of all, I love that my husband is getting HIS moment in the spotlight – after all, he had to wait patiently through three long years of Mama Love.
Do I feel slighted? Sure, a little. Does it sting? Sure, a little. But I am discovering there are perks to being the parental wallflower. I get to shower and pee without a baby sitting outside the bathroom door crying because of my momentary absence. I get to check my emails while Dada reads bedtime stories. I get to go through the day without a child physically attached to my hip.
Maybe the pendulum will swing back in my direction in a few months, or years, or decades. Maybe it won’t. For now, I’m ok with the fact that it is all about the DADA, and endlessly grateful that my husband is such an amazing dad.