It’s 1:40 am. The girl is sick, and she’s just woken up, crying for Daddy. He’s fast asleep so I leap out of bed to go and comfort her. Only… she doesn’t want me. She wants Daddy. She won’t let me cuddle her, she doesn’t want to hear anything I have to say until I offer to let her jump into our bed. She runs to our bed and snuggles in… next to Daddy. A minute or two later she’s out like a light.
Truth be told, when I ran in there I had to wipe the tears from my eyes first. I’d worked myself into a sad, sentimental state, first cuddling Jordan, then thinking back to when Milly was a baby – back before tantrums and back-chatting and telling me no, she doesn’t want a cuddle. Swiping through photos on Facebook, I tried to make sense of how much she’s changed in just two-and-a-half years. Sure, it wasn’t all roses – when she stopped sleeping during the day we had some very trying times. But it didn’t matter. Mummy cuddles always made it better.
I know that they don’t stay babies forever, and I know that every child declares at some point that they hate their parents – angry words said in the heat of the moment. But I guess I didn’t expect it at such a young age. It’s one thing to be throwing a tantrum and lash out – it’s quite another to coolly tell me to bugger off (I’m paraphrasing of course). I still see her as my little girl, barely past babyhood, and she thinks she’s all grown up, with an adult-sized attitude to match. After eighteen months or so of being closer than close, in sync with each other, suddenly I’m feeling on the outside, subject to her moods and whims. It’s a big adjustment and it’s caught me off kilter.
For the whole of Monday she cries through the pain of her illness (hand, foot and mouth disease may be ‘mild’ but it brings a very great degree of misery). She asks for Daddy. She rarely accepts a cuddle. I feel a little defeated, and even more sad: now I can’t even comfort my baby girl! Just as I’m about to resign myself to the fact that she’d rather have Daddy at home and pick up a full-time job so Sean can be the stay-at-home parent, the man himself walks in the door. He scoops up Milly and heads upstairs for some cuddles and quit time (with the hope of getting her to sleep and depositing her in her bed). A few minutes later I hear what is suddenly like music to my ears –
“Muuuuuummmmmmyyyyyy!!! I want my mummy!!”
Ahh, so she does need me, after all! I head upstairs to take over from Sean. As she snuggles in close, with her head against my chest and her little arms wrapping around my neck, my heart soars. My love for her is permanent, unchanging even with her snottiest moods, but it sure is gratifying to have the sentiment returned!