Mommy Dearest

April 29, 2008

My child hates me.

Okay, maybe she doesn’t hate me, but I am certainly not her Most Favorite Person Ever. That title goes to HBF, aka Daddy, who can do no wrong. (Last night, at bedtime: “I love Daddy” “Of course you do, sweetie. Do you love Mommy?” “Nope. I love Daddy. And medicine.” Don’t ask.)

Me, on the other hand – I’m persona non grata. On a good day, she tolerates my presence with a polite firmness that makes perfectly clear that she has boundaries and that I am to respect them (NO, Mommy, just me and Daddy gonna play outside. NOT YOU. THANK YOU.) On a bad day, she wants me as far away as possible, and tells me so in the fiercest of terms. (GO AWAY MOMMY. GO. A. WAAAAAY!) Sometimes, she pushes at me with her little fists and furrows her wee face into a scowl and issues her command that I retreat in a terrible little voice that is somehow at once deep-throated and high-pitched. More than once, she’s thwacked me with her Toadstool (aka Phallic Lovey), as punctuation to her commands. More than once, she’s thrown her entire little being into the effort of getting me away from her now. More than once, she’s growled and scowled and faced me like an enemy.




And, you know, even though I know that toddlers go through these phases, and even though I know that her behavior is probably even more understandable now that I’m in the late stages of a pregnancy that has taken me away from her – in spirit if not in body – far more often than has been tolerable for me, even though I know that of course she still loves me, even though I know all of this, it hurts, and the pain of it cuts deep. She scowls at me and tells me to go, go, go away don’t stay here go away I don’t want you here BECUZ and throws her wee body against my legs in an effort to just get me away and it’s like a million tiny knives cutting through my skin and into my bones and it takes every ounce of emotional energy that I have left to not burst into tears right in front of her.

Do you want to give Mommy a kiss?


Do you want to give Mommy a hug?


Can Mommy sit down next to you?


She’s not like this all of the time, of course. She’s been quite happy to go out for coffee with Mommy on occasion and go to the bakery with Mommy and go buy treats with Mommy (which, you getting the picture here? If Mommy shoves cookies or candy or mock lattes in her pockets, Wonderbaby is quite happy to have Mommy nearby. Otherwise, not so much). But these remain exceptions to the general rule, which is Mommy go away. And that breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because now, more than ever, I want to just snuggle up with her and really revel in these last days of exclusive togetherness. I want her to be Mommy’s girl for just a little while, so that when her baby brother comes (she now pats my tummy and refers to him by name, loving him, it seems, a lot more enthusiastically than she loves me) all I’ll need to do is grab her hand and whisper Mommy’s girl and she’ll know that ours is a special love and that we’ll always, always have it, just between us. But she doesn’t want that right now. She wants her dad. And she wants Mommy – slow, belabored, distracted Mommy – out of her face.

And that hurts. It really, really, hurts.

I almost didn’t write about this – because, in part, I’ve been something of a cranky-assed downer of late, and am getting sick of my own bitching, but more so because I feared hearing anything, from anyone, that might suggest that this is not normal, that I must be doing something wrong, something to make her justifiably angry with me, something to make her want to keep her distance. Something beyond just being pregnant and distracted (which, if it is the pregnancy? Is bad enough, because whither our mother-daughter relationship when the baby comes, and I’m even more distracted?) Something wrong with me, something bad about me, her bad mother. And I just didn’t think that I was up for hearing that, even as the gentlest suggestion.

But if it is me, I need to hear it, because I need to change it. And if it’s not me – if lots of children go through this – then I need to hear that even more. Because I need some peace.

Mommy fought the Law but the Law won.

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    JanMary April 29, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    I can really appreciate where you are coming from. Those last stages of pregnancy, when you know how different life will become with another baby, and you jsut want to savour those special moments in time for just a little bit longer. Unfortunately toddlers have no appreciation over just how powerful a tool/weapon their love can be.

    Hoping you manage to snatch a moment or two – even if its when she is asleep!

    Thanks for posting this though, a timely reminder to all of us.

    anymommy April 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Whew! I teared up. I have so been through this. If WB isn’t normal, than I have weird kids too. My third baby was born when my first babies were 23 and 21 months. They dismissed me as slow and boring before the birth and punished me for months after. Daddy reigned supreme. It does hurt. Two fabulous quotes helped. Our social worker (we’ve adopted) said that you have to really love and trust someone to show them your angry feelings. Also this gem: Once you have more than one kid, someone is always crying. So true. They have forgiven me – and they laugh all the time too, I promise!

    slouching mom April 29, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Oh, honey, they ALL do it. When I came home from the hospital with Jack in tow, Ben refused to speak to me for about a week. And when I tried to walk into his playroom, he’d say, “Mommy, I do not want you in this room.”

    But they do NOT mean it. And they’ll ONLY do it when they feel totally, and I mean totally, secure about the love you have for them.

    Glennia April 29, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Welcome to motherhood, dearest. It’s all about heartbreak. It’s the price we pay for all the joy.

    Daddy reigns supreme because Daddy is not there all the time, so Daddy time is more valuable. My kid does this now and then, but it peaked at the 2-4 age range. By 6, he was pretty much over both of us, except as source of Yu-Gi-Oh card money.

    Backpacking Dad April 29, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    My little cousin would say to her mom, while pushing on her thigh: “Gao, gao, gao, gaowah!” I think our little monsters (I mean “dear children”) just need to control their universe a little bit, and if that means making mom go somewhere else then that is what they’ll do.

    But maybe when those moments happen you can distract her with some other piece of the universe she can control. Play some Jenga or something :}

    MoxieMamaKC April 29, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I too have been through this(though my daughter is an only child…so far). She is always Daddy’s Dearest and sometimes the only one that she allows near Her Highness. However, it’s Mama she sticks to like Saran Wrap when she feels like puking (lucky me, I know)or is running a temperature.
    It upsets me sometimes, but then I remember that I was the same way with my father and I don’t feel as bad. It’s just a stage (repeat as necessary)!

    Anonymous April 29, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I know it hurts. But she only does that because she is absolutely sure of your love for her. Otherwise she would be to afraid to act this way.

    madge April 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    It will pass. Most likely while you are deeply ensconced in the every-two-hour nurse-athon. All of a sudden WB will decide YOU are the best and she must be within inches of you at all times.

    And, when she whines, “NO, DADDY!” You can chuckle and stick your tongue out at him because, well because we are all very mature, no?

    MissAnna April 29, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I don’t have kids and in fact (at 25) have no friends with kids either. But I do remember thinking that Dad was way cooler than Mom growing up (Mom, who stayed home with us day after day). Enough that it’s made me wonder if someday, my husband (currently, fiance) should stay home w/ the kids so that they’re excited to see ME at the end of the day. Maybe that’s the burden stay at home moms bear? Is it the same for the families that choose daycare? (And despite your current frustrations, know that you are most definitely a great writer! I’m certainly not visiting this site to find out the best diaper brands–your honesty and clarity are amazing :-)

    Anonymous April 29, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Wow, I think I’m the Bad Mother. Honey, by the 3rd pregnancy if my kids say they’d rather spend time with Daddy than me, I say Hooray! and go eat chocolate & watch television in peace.

    GeekLady April 29, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    They all do it. My niece went through a stage of all she wanted was me, to the point of calling me ‘Mama’ to my embarrassment and her own mother’s anger. She still called her own mother ‘Mommy’ it’s worth noting, but she had never once said my name before, and then just before age 2 popped up with calling me Mama instead. It lasted about 4-6 months… then she found new and more creative ways to frustrate her mom.

    It will be okay.

    daysgoby April 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Completely normal.

    I KNOW that. But,still, every time Rosey says ‘No! Daddy will tuck me in! NOT YOU, Mama!’ it feels like she’s tearing a little strip of skin off my already hurting heart….

    GoMommy April 29, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    IT’S NOT YOU!!!
    Both of my boys went through this! They wanted nothing to do with me and only wanted “Daddy”. I think it’s because they spent all day with me- I’m the primary caregiver and disciplinarian. The husband gets to be the “fun” one.
    Wonderbaby will come back from the dark side in time!

    Rachael April 29, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    This is like an extension of how my son (2 yrs old this Fri) behaves for other people, but totally ignores my instructions and likes to hit me in the head with things. Then Daddy comes home from work and he is the best thing ever. I think what other people say is true – she’d only say those things if she KNEW how much you loved her and that you always would. Hang in there (now picture a kitten hanging from something).

    Lady M April 29, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    It will pass. And she will always know she’s Mommy’s girl.

    There was a time when I didn’t ask Q to come give me a hug because the odds were that he’d refuse and I didn’t want to feel rejected. Mature, huh? Thankfully, we’re past that now and I get regular hugs and kisses.

    Diane April 29, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    No, it’s not you. When I had my son, my daughter was only 14 months old and she did all the same things as Wonderbaby, of course with far less words.
    I was convinced she hated me. Daddy was her hero and I was chopped liver. She used to kiss and hug my belly, but if I tried to pick her up she would hit me. I would cry all the time about it.
    After I had my son it took several weeks, if not months, for her to really warm back up to me and I was terribly emotional about it since I had the impression she and I would instantly bond again after I was no longer pregnant. But since I got pregnant again when she was only 5 months old, and I was miserable during most of my second pregnancy, she really didn’t know her real Mommy. I was just some cranky, swollen emotional wreck who gave her cookies and changed her diaper on occassion.
    My son is now 7 months old and both of my babies want to be as close to me as possible all the time. Of course, my daughter is still Daddy’s little girl and they do have a special bond, but the bond between daughter and mother is unbreakable and always trumps Daddy.
    You and she will get through this. Good luck.

    something blue April 29, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Every day I am going through the exact same thing. Except I’m not pregnant which is a good thing because she was kicking me yesterday. I can’t wait for this phase to be long over. I’m ready for the next challenge.

    braiding mommy April 29, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I feel your pain. My daughter clearly does not favor me. First, since we don’t live with her father, its almost like a treat to see him. Second, we do live with Grandma aka,. Let Me Spoil You 24/7. Hang tough.

    womaninawindow April 29, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    So normal…normal that she should do it and normal that it should hurt. Never let her know though ’cause then she’s weilding some big guns! She’ll use them, too, when she’s 7, not that I’d know or anything. I find that I have to take on daddy’s fun persona sometimes and be ridiculous! Then she realizes I’m ALLRIII…!

    Poppy Buxom April 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    My daughter hates me, too, but I’ve always attributed it to that cross-gender thing. Because my son adores me.

    You’re lucky you’re having a boy. You’ll see; as far as he’s concerned, the sun will rise and set in your eyes.

    Tammy April 29, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Lurker here,

    I have two boys, 1 year,1 month and 3 years, 6 weeks and I was exactly where you are right now a year ago. It’s not just you. My three year old routinely now comes up and says, “mommy I love you” and asks if he can hug me. He also tells me that he doesn’t like me and that he doesn’t like his little brother.

    I think that they are just working these things out in their heads and are intensely moody little cusses.

    Sara April 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    This was totally me not too long ago. My first son never went through this, my second though, a few months ago, started prefering anyone but me. It hurt so bad because he’s my baby, he’s been a mama’s boy his whole life and suddenly he just seemed to rather not be with me whenever possible. Even two weeks ago he clung to his sunday school teacher as if I was about to ruin his entire life by taking him from her. He screamed “WANT MY SHAWNA” the entire way out of the church, and continued in the car, where I cried in silence and tried to convince myself I don’t like him all that much right now EITHER so therefore it doesn’t hurt. Ha!

    Now I’m being paid back for all the tears. He suddenly has decided “me want youuuuu mommy” and takes help from no one else. He wont even stay with his beloved papaw, he cried when i dropped him off with his shawna at church, oh, and he’s pretending to be a baby who has suddenly forgotten how to do oh everything. KIDS!

    nomotherearth April 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Yup, I heard “GO AWAY!” the other day. Fun times. I’m betting that as soon as you have a babe in arms, it will be Only Mummy that can do things. These kiddies have great timing, they do.

    It’s a phase. You’re one cool mom. She’s lucky to have you.

    pkzcass April 29, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    I PROMISE you it’s completely normal. My son (who is now 11) hated my husband (yup, Daddy was the bad guy, not mommy) when he was almost three and I was expecting #2. I remember myself how much joy I took in telling my mother I hated her on a daily basis.

    My boys are 11 and 8, and they don’t hate either one of us. But I expect my 11 year old will start to any day now.

    Rest easy HBM. Little Miss really does love you. She just doesn’t know it yet.

    Minnesota Matron April 29, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    She can’t help it! She’s getting ready for that baby in between the two of you. Better now than when you’re breastfeeding the wee one. But it’s hard! My five year old is constantly telling ME that I hate him! However, this he gets from his 12year old brother. . . ah, love.

    Mir April 29, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Totally normal, totally awful, and totally temporary.

    Just you wait (Henry Higgins) until she sees the babe-in-arms and decides she wants YOU YOU YOU and you will look back on this with a bittersweet fondness.

    And just you wait when you see the new level of bonding that comes when you can tell her “Let’s do this, just us two, because he’s a baby and too little and can’t join us, too bad,” and her face will light up and all will be well. For a few minutes. Until the next time. ;)

    Hang in there, hon.

    Veronica Mitchell April 29, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    My girls did this to their Daddy when his work schedule changed. They didn’t understand why he wasn’t there on certain days anymore, and I think they felt rejected, and they dealt with it by pushing him away. His absence couldn’t hurt them if they rejected him first, SO THERE.

    We talked to them about why daddy needed to work, and how he still loved them, and so on, and it helped, but they still have the occasional bad day. This is definitely not just a problem for you.

    Anonymous April 29, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Well, of course it’s not you! All kids go through this! But did you think anyone would be so cruel as to say it WAS you?

    Mandy April 29, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Although I have two boys, many of my friends have girls and are going through or have gone through exactly what you describe. It is understandably heartbreaking, but they don’t really mean it. And it does pass although, like any bad phase, it seems much too long when in the midst of it.

    vasilisa April 29, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Oh, they all do that, really. My son sometimes tells me “I don’t like you”, or “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to papa”. I want to cry. But then sometimes he sais the same to papa. I don’t think they mean it.

    I also find that when I play with him and take him out (toys, playground, etc…) he “likes me more”.

    I know he loves me. I know I love him. That’s all that matters. The rest is just semantics…

    katesaid April 29, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    So many anecdotes.

    Like the fact that both of my children are giggling and roughhousing with their father right this minute, while Boring Mom sits alone in the living room. They will, begrudgingly, accept a Mama-administered bedtime, but only if Daddy is not available.

    Like the fact that in almost every multi-person photograph, I am *taking* the picture and Daddy is *in* it.

    Like the fact that when I left them home with Daddy, for a 10-day vacation last year and a long weekend this year, they announced, nightly, “I want my mama.” They n-e-v-e-r day this when I am home.

    But what it all boils down to? Yes, it’s normal.

    Freud was right about something.

    I hate that.

    Mrs. CPA April 29, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    A lot of kids do this. A ton. I can’t tell you how many parents came to pick up thier kids from the nursery and the kid would run to Daddy like Mommy wasn’t even there. They cried for Daddy when they were dropped off and didn’t care that Mommy was standing in the window waving.
    Then one day, it would be over, either they would switch sides or decide that both parents were equally cool. Until they turned 13 of course, and then they hated them both equally…

    A Mom Two Boys April 29, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    My first thought was to say “Maybe it’s because she found out you’re exploiting her” but then I thought better of it, because you know how some things don’t translate well on the internet and you might now know I was trying to make you smile and maybe that wouldn’t make you smile and then I’d feel awful. Just awful.

    Anyhoo, it’s totally normal. My son does it and I feel the same way. Although right now he’s going through a mommy phase and it’s hurting my husband’s feelings and I’m thinking, “Can’t you want your damn father AT LEAST ONE TIME TODAY? FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?” Seriously. Their purpose on life is to TEST us. Yet we still love them and bring MORE of them into the world. We do it to ourselves.

    Enjoy the solitude while it lasts!

    Leah April 29, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I treated my mom like that when I was twenty-two. I still loved her, of course, but I just needed my space. And my daddy. But then I got over it! And Wonderbaby will too.

    marymurtz April 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    But it still hurts.
    And that’s normal too.
    Hugs, sweetie.

    mothergoosemouse April 29, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    It happened here too. And I hate to admit it, but it hurts even more now that she’s older and she lurks behind him, peeking out at me, pulling him down so that she can whisper in his ear.

    But she comes back to me. And WB will come back to you too.

    Mom101 April 29, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Oh man, I see it now in Sage – a daddy’s girl in the making. It’s normal and natural and fine and still, it hurts like hell.

    Roz April 29, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    My 2 yr old is doing the same thing. Papa is THE FUN and Mummy- not so much. I’m as pregnant as you and probably moving at about the same pace. I just don’t have it to give. I know I’m not a bag of laughs, so really I can’t blame her. But I know she loves me and certainly WB adores you in her heart of hearts.

    I’ve been trying to respond to her requests for alone time or time with her Papa with an ‘OK Sweetie,’ in a tone that tells her that she’s in control of her decisions. I figure it’s probably really satisfying to her to think that she has the ability to make decisions seeing as that’s most of the frustration in a toddler’s life. I don’t know if I’m imagining it, but I think it helps.

    JaniceNW April 29, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    At least your daughter talks to you once in awhile. To see how it feels when your baby is now 17 check out my post today called Oh where, Oh where, Has my little boy gone? at Not trying to hype my blog honest. It’s just that we wrote very similar posts except our children are different ages.

    Fairly Odd Mother April 29, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    NO! It isn’t you!!! She is just trying to prepare you for the disdain she’ll show you as a teenager!

    My son, my youngest, my squishable/lovable/eat-him-up boy tells me “I ATE YOU!” at least once a day (he keeps the “h” silent).

    Belinda April 29, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Awww. Chin up. I agree with…well, everyone. It’s not you.

    that girl April 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    she’s no dummy — she knows what’s comin’ — and she’s making you pay in advance.

    jealousy will bring her back, full force. we’re going through the same thing over here right now, including biting and other ick behavior.

    she loves you sooo much.

    mommastantrum April 29, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Can I tell you the fact that you wrote this right now means the world to me? It does.

    Which means you are not alone.

    And I only have one living child. Daddy is God and I am some sort of evil barely tolerate thing that is ordered around and peed on. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I could have had more.

    I know that somewhere he loves me, just as she loves you, it just sure doesn’t feel like it anymore.

    Pgoodness April 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    It’s not you. Of course not! My kids both did this to me – and the second one? No new baby coming to use as an excuse!! It’s that phase – and I hate to say, she’ll probably go through it again, even without a new baby on the way!

    Not you. And besides, she loves you more than anything, she’s just going through a phase.

    Heather April 29, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    SM is exactly right. She does and says those things to you because she’s TOTALLY sure that you love her. Otherwise, she wouldn’t risk it. It’s that backwards logic that breaks hormonal mommies’ hearts. The more they love you and know that you love them, the easier it is for them to push you away and test that love.

    She wants to see that she’s totally right that you love her even if she’s being a little sh… uh stinker.

    My daughter went through a big “Daddy’s girl” phase too.

    Angella April 29, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    My husband is The King Of The World. I think it has to with how Daddies are able to just PLAY without thinking about all that needs to be done.

    Do not fret. You are not alone :)

    motherbumper April 29, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    It kills me, it makes me tear up, but I have to stiff upper lip it each time she says “I DONT LIKE YOU”. Since this phase began I’ve been questioning my parenting skills. For real. Kinda makes me tear up typing this. You are not alone. They are trying to bring us down, and some days they are winning.

    Velma April 29, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Ditto to everything above. The killer is that in a short while, when you are occupied with the new baby, she will change her tune and want nothing but you. And you won’t be able to drop everything and give that time to her. It sucks, it really does, but just try to remember somewhere deep down that this pushing and pulling is valuable for both of you.

    Lukasmummy April 29, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    I normally only read your blog through google reader and never remember to open the page to comment but you really sounded like you needed a (((hug))) today. My 5 year old boy is currently only wanting his daddy too I frequently hear no I don’t love you only daddy and you are a lot stronger than me because I have cried in front of him over it. It’s hard not to show emotion about it especially since my husband is really abrupt, I never understand how come he would want someone whose not very nice to him over someone who adores him but that’s kids for you, it’s like when they pick out the ugliest damn outfit they own and refuse to wear anything else, they do it because they can not because they want to hurt your feelings or cause you hassle (well not all the time anyway lol) I hope it gets better for you soon, maybe you could take comfort from the fact that eventually daddy is going to do something that annoys her and she wont want him either. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy hugs Crystal xxxx

    Alwen April 29, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    We’re not at this stage yet, but it’s good to read about it and get a sense of what to expect and how to handle it well. Thanks. And your last post about fear was beautiful, beautiful. I have felt that way since they day my little girl was born!

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