I can’t stand stereotypes. I don’t like the way they pigeonhole a person or group. I despise, for example, being thought of as a bad driver because I am a woman. But what I loathe more than the stereotype itself is the fact that in my particular case, it’s at least somewhat true. I have both an off sense of direction and limited depth perception that has sent me over many a curb, and my dear male counterpart does not let me forget such driving indiscretions.
Though I never was one, the daddy’s girl is another stereotype I have a problem with. A daddy’s girl wraps her father around her little finger so that when Mama says, “Absolutely not”, Daddy steps in and says, “Whatever you want, Sweetheart” because he adores and dotes on her. This, of course, leaves Mama rolling her eyes and stockpiling emotional ammo for the next showdown between her partner and herself.
So is there truth to this stereotype? Well, for me there is because I live with two daddy’s girls.
The daddy-daughter bond began for both of my girls at birth. With my first, Daddy was instantly in love. Blame it on the drugs or the lack of sleep, but I was not. When she was finally brought to me in recovery after my emergency C-section, I looked at this little red-faced thing with jet black hair sticking up in every direction and wondered what the heck she was supposed to be. While her father snuggled his precious daughter, I was pushing the nurse’s button and begging for more drugs to put me out of my misery.
Perhaps it was the natural bond between father and daughter, or maybe it was the trauma and recovery I went through that pushed our baby girl more toward her daddy. One thing is certain, though. She has always been closer to her father. And with her parents now divorced, her preference for Daddy is even more visible. During my week with her, she draws pictures of the two of them together, which she proudly shows off and lovingly bestows upon him when he comes to pick her up. The reverse is not true for me.
Allow me to pause for a moment to say that I am not sorry my daughter has such a strong bond with her father. I know that many girls are growing up without a father figure or with an abusive one. I consider myself fortunate that this is not the story for either of my girls.
As for my younger daughter, the father-daughter relationship began even before birth. Each night, he would put his hand on my growing belly and coo, “How’s Daddy’s girl?” Whenever he did this, she would snuggle up under his touch and answer his question with a kick. So, it should have come as no surprise that Daddy has developed such a strong attachment to his girl in the months since her birth. For me, there was again trauma and recovery, and her premature arrival complicated things even more. Afraid to touch her frail form, I held back when we visited her in the NICU. Daddy did not, so yet again, baby grew closer to her father. And now she cries for him when I try to pick her up.
Whether the early bond between my girls and their daddies is natural or the result of the first nurturing they received, I will never know. But today, I see another explanation for my girls’ preference for their daddies. It’s the separation factor. Both are separated from Daddy more than Mama. In both situations, Daddy works while Mama is at home. Thus, Mama is the one who takes care of the daily routine — naps, snacks, violin class, homework, etc. Daddy offers a break from the routine. The older one peeks through the blinds to see if her father has arrived yet. The younger one lets out an excited squeal at the sound of the door unlocking.
I sometimes get frustrated with my daughters’ preference for Daddy. It leaves me feeling like I do more of the parental workload with less reward. But then, when I start feeling this way, one or both of my girls surprises me. The older one will randomly sit next to me on the couch and say, “I love you, Mama.” Or, the younger one will walk up to me and offer her pacifier. Then I realize that Daddy’s girl still has a place for Mama. And that helps keep me in check.