August 4, 2010


From the time they're born until they're around two years old, kids want their moms. And that's as it should be. Because moms are magic. They're mind readers. They know exactly what's wrong and exactly how to fix it. And if they don't, they improvise well. Moms can translate any scream, figure out the motive behind any cry, and solve any problem almost instantly.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that moms don't have superpowers. They do. Enough to put even the toughest superhero to shame. But the thing is, most dads can do all of this too. It's just that kids don't really give dads much of a chance before a certain age. And this can make dads feel a little useless.

But things change. About a month ago, I became Owen's go-to parent.

It did not happen gradually. Instead, it was an abrupt shift. When he cries in the middle of the night, he asks (and asking can sound a lot like furious screaming) for me. My want dada! When he comes to our bed in the middle of the night, feverish and grumpy and sniffling, he climbs up my side of the bed and wraps his little arms around my neck and falls peacefully to sleep breathing his little breaths in my ear. When he needs a bath, I'm the one tasked with doing the scrubbing.

Yesterday while I was at work, Owen - battling a summer cold and feeling lousy - spend much of the day screaming for me. I'm sympathetic to Beth who had to listen to that all day long. To express my appreciation to her for being such an excellent mother I'll be stopping on the way home to pick up a bottle of wine and earplugs. But I've got to admit, it's nice to be loved and missed and wanted and needed like that.

Dads spend a lot of time on the outside looking in, trying not to get in the way of that mother-child bond. It's hard at the time but the inevitable payoff is pretty incredible.

Who was your parental go-to?

Posted by Chris at August 4, 2010 6:46 AM

Wow. What a question. When I think back (and that is a LONG time to think) I'd have to say neither. Which really explains SOOO much about my personality.

I should mention tho that my father died in a terrible accident when I was 2 years old. My mom remarried a lovely man when I was 4 (and they are still married) but perhaps my connection would have been with my father because I've always been very independent and I'd have to say neither parent that raised me was my go to...I took care of myself.

Posted by: daisy at August 4, 2010 8:38 AM

I was such a Daddy's girl...still am.

Posted by: Krush at August 4, 2010 9:40 AM

E (husband)just became a stay at home dad (about 3 weeks ago)....the dynamic is swiftly changing in our house.

I (mom) used to be the go-to we're about 50-50% but I think we're headed into the Daddy's world and I can't say I'm not just a teenie bit relieved!

Posted by: Natalie at August 4, 2010 10:04 AM

My sister. My Mom suffered from severe depression when I was born and Dad was working. My sister age 5 1/2 stayed home from school and took care of me. Bottle, diapers, etc. I still feel that bond with her.

Posted by: Maribeth at August 4, 2010 11:47 AM

I went to my parents for different things, so I don't think either one was a go-to for me.

My son is Owen's age, and I am his go-to. I don't know what's going on with the energy between him and his dad, but he is much mellower when Dad's not around. We were alone this weekend, hubby was at a wedding, and it was nice. Really nice. Now that Dad is back, Little D screams a lot, cries a lot, "Mooooooooommmmmmmy"'s a lot. I hate to have to walk out the door to work when his big teary eyes are looking up at me. I wish his Dad was his go-to, since he's home all the time.

Posted by: Brooke at August 4, 2010 12:46 PM

For me, it depended.

If I was sick, I wanted my mommy.

If I was injured, if I was upset, if I had a bad dream, I wanted my daddy.

As a very little girl, I thought my dad was a healer. If I hurt myself, he would rub his huge, calloused, muscular hands together, until they were scorching hot, and he would wrap my injured part up in his hands. Just seeing him rub his hands together would calm me and make me feel better, knowing the healing was coming. And when he would wrap my little body part in his hands, I just knew everything would be ok. At 7, I broke my arm. And he couldn't fix it with his healing touch. I don't know what stunned me more. The pain of a broken bone, or discovering my daddy wasn't a healer after all.

Posted by: Mindy at August 4, 2010 1:25 PM

For the most part, my mom, but I had a period when I was a toddler where I wanted nothing to do with her and would only deal with my dad. Much like with Owen, it happened completely overnight. One day I was all about mom, the next it was like, "What are you doing here? Where's dad?"

She was not so much a fan of that. Especially the day that I wasn't feeling well and was curled up on my dad's lap. I got up to come over to her lap, and she was all excited! Until I promptly threw up all over her. Oops.

Posted by: Dawn at August 4, 2010 2:06 PM

I went through stages where I would my mom over my dad and vice versa. For the most part if I was sick, it was my mom. If I needed help with something (school, work, problems that I needed someone to act as a sounding board for) it was my dad. But as I got older I definitely think my dad became my go-to parent. We use to plan stuff together, do projects together (websites etc) - he was the brains & logic and I was the creative flair. We actually made a really good team. No disrespect to my mom - she's great - but there just wasn't the same dynamic. I lost my dad last year, but he was the kind of person that you go to when you are feeling down or worried, and he'd make some or other comment about keeping your chin up and then give you this massive bear hug and somehow things didn't seem so bad anymore. And he almost always had some funny or witty remark about everything. No matter how old I was, in his eyes I was always his little girl.

My hubby and I are still trying for kids but I think that if I had to guess, the kids will favour me if they are sick (or hungry ;-) ) and they will favour him when they are scared or hurt. I can see him as the protective papa bear type :-)

Posted by: Delia at August 4, 2010 3:06 PM

For me, it was always my mom. And even now, she's the one I go to most of the time. My dad was never a man of many words, but he always took care of me by reminding me to get my oil changed, taking care of my financial aid for college, and doing my taxes.

Posted by: Stephanie at August 4, 2010 8:37 PM

When I was a kid, it was ALWAYS my mom. Dad was the one who grounded us, spanked us, etc. so I think it never occurred to me to go to him when I was hurt or scared. It was always my dad that I wanted to impress though. I still have a healthy fear of disappointing him (because I respect him so much). But now that I'm older, I usually go to my dad. My mom is just too sensitive and tells me what she thinks I need to hear. My dad, however, tells me I fucked up and what I should do to fix it. My daughter (9) was a daddy's girl from the age of two (and we split up when she was 5) until just this year when she has become more and more attached to me and doesn't want him as much.

Posted by: js at August 4, 2010 10:23 PM

when I was a kid - for school stuff, dad, for everything else, was mum hands down

now that I'm an adult - for work stuff, dad, for everything else. was mum, hands down - we lost her last year and dad has tried but his sister, my aunt, has been an awesome stand-in for mum

Chris - after about a year's absence of regular reading am back and just want to say I've missed reading your daily take on things - thanks!

Posted by: Kathryn at August 4, 2010 11:38 PM

my daughter has always been sweet but never went through any kind of noticeable separation anxiety or anything (lucky)... but my son cries the kind of cry that melts my heart whenever i leave the room or walk away from him. i'm going to enjoy the probably short time he's going to be a momma's boy :)

Posted by: kati at August 5, 2010 12:59 AM

I like this,thanks!

Posted by: juicy couture at August 5, 2010 3:11 AM

so good

Posted by: ed hardy bags at August 5, 2010 3:12 AM

I am fortunant to live in a country (Norway) that has 10 weeks of the maternetyleave reserved for the fathers. They acctually have to be home with the child, while the mother works those weeks. So the bonding can start a little earlier here.

My go to parent has been my father, for as long as i can remember.

Posted by: Anette at August 5, 2010 6:38 PM

I was a mama's girl for sure. But I see it with Michael's daughter that she's a Daddy's girl - poor thing hates her Mother. (I hate her too so I totally understand) ;)

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at August 7, 2010 2:32 AM

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Posted by: Anisimov18Leontij at October 6, 2010 11:25 PM