My husband was our son's primary caregiver for the first part of his life.
For most things, our son looked to him, and people often called him a "daddy's boy."
They assumed this would bother me, but I understood their bond.
"He's Daddy's boy."
We hear that a lot — from friends, relatives, and even strangers out in public as our three-year-old son demands my husband's attention, most often by asking to be held or carried, or just generally preferring to hold his hand as we run errands or enjoy a park or museum as a family.
And it's true. Their bond is obvious and undeniable.
My husband stayed home after our son was born while getting an MBA
Two weeks before my son was born, my husband lost his job, but his severance package included an opportunity to go back to school. He chose to get an MBA through an online program, essentially buying himself two years at home.
His presence there is undoubtedly a huge factor in why I look back on my maternity leave fondly — while it was a time of huge changes and adjustments many new parents are quick to say is not a vacation, I've often said I felt differently, like mine was. I was fortunate to have an easy birth and recovery, as well as a calm, easy baby, with my husband there the whole time to help with late-night feedings and diaper changes without having to worry about being up for work the next morning.
I went back to work after maternity leave
I went back to work after six weeks, but I was working from home, which allowed us to spend time as a family at lunch and during my short breaks. My husband would sometimes interrupt me to tell me to come see what my son was doing, and when my son started crawling and later, cruising, he'd sometimes provide a welcome distraction, wandering in to see me, sometimes even sitting in my lap as I worked — something I only stopped when he started trying to use my desk and computer as toys. And although I wasn't getting real quality time with either of them during the day, I also didn't feel like I was missing out on as much as I would have if I had been going to an office every day.
My husband functioned as our son's primary caregiver, in charge of feedings, diaper changes, and playtime for eight hours or longer, five days a week. When they went to wellness visits with the pediatrician, my husband was often the only man in a waiting room full of moms, and the doctor was thrilled to hear they were getting so much time together.
And because they had that time, my son, unsurprisingly, became more attached to my husband. When my son needed comforting, my husband was the one he wanted. When we were in new places or with new people, my son clung to him. When my husband left the room, my son cried for him.
Their strong bond doesn't bother me, and I don't like the assumption that it should
So when we hear, "He's Daddy's boy," I smile and agree. But it often carries a hint of sympathy, followed by an attempt to reassure or console me, even when my reaction doesn't indicate that's what I need, and I almost never do. I'm more bothered by the assumption that I should be upset that my son doesn't turn to me instead.
I understand the root of the sentiment — I'm his mother, the one who carried him in my body for nine months as I battled fatigue, nausea, and all the other struggles of pregnancy, labored for hours to bring him into this world, and breastfed him as an infant. He went from being physically dependent on me to my husband instead meeting his needs for the bulk of his waking hours. And a toddler being so attached to his father, not his mother, is something of an anomaly, or people at least treat it like one.
Admittedly, though each moment my son prefers my husband over me does come with a little pang of jealousy, I'm careful never to show it. I understand, and I don't want my husband to feel guilty, or, perhaps more importantly, for my son to pick up on my feelings and think he's doing something wrong.
We have our own bond, and I know he loves me, too
I know my son loves me, too, and I don't feel shunned or cast aside by him. We have little inside jokes and games, things he does with me but not my husband. When he thinks something is funny, he looks to me to see if I'm laughing, too. When he wakes up before me, he climbs into bed with me, often sitting with his back against mine as he plays with toy trucks or flips through a book, and he'll wake me up by asking me to read a book or do a puzzle. When we're at home together during the day, we squeeze together on the same couch cushion, and he leans on me and wraps his tiny arm around mine. Sometimes he gazes up at me and grins, and it's like we're the only two people in the world.
But above all, my son's love of his dad is proof to me that I picked a fantastic partner — someone who not only makes me feel happy and safe but makes our child feel that, too.
Over a year and a half ago, when my husband rejoined the workforce and I left my full-time job, our roles reversed. My son still adores his father, without a doubt. He watches eagerly out the window as his car pulls into the driveway after work, then runs to greet him, his arms held up high, requesting to be picked up and hugged. He demands his attention on evenings and weekends, barely letting him out of his sight. Before, he clung to him out of familiarity. Now it's because he misses him.
I don't interpret our son's love of his dad as a rebuff of me or a reflection of our own relationship. Instead, I see it as proof of their own unique bond and that I couldn't have chosen a better father for my child.
Read the original article on Insider