My little Moonbeam is just like me in every way. She is a firecracker, she wants things done just her way and she isn’t above drool-crying when she’s displeased. She has big round full-moon eyes and a cantaloupe head, she is short, she hates spotty bananas. She refuses to sit in filth and is extremely ticklish. She can’t help but laugh when she sees someone else crying.
More than any of these, though, she is just like me in the way she loves her dad.
My husband is the human embodiment of love. He is patient, he is kind, he does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He is, from his skyscraper head to his weird hobbit feet, the most perfect person I have ever met. I turn into a heart-eye emoji around him, even when he forgets to take out the diaper garbage.
And this baby is the same damn way.
She and I have our language. We have our special bond. But the way she smiles at her dad, the way her eyes light up when he walks into a room, is unlike anything I’ve seen before.
At first it broke my heart. I spent a lot of the first few weeks thinking something must be wrong with me, that I must be a terrible mother. That something had gone awry and she had mistaken him for “mama”. Do humans imprint like birds? Had I done something to cause this?
I was jealous a lot at the start of her life. I was anxious, I was afraid. Like most new moms, I was terrified of messing up. Seeing how effortless it was for my husband turned me absolutely green. Friends and family members would make comments– “You’re so lucky to have him! He’s so good with her, he’s such a good dad!” And it hurt. Was I not good mom? Was he not lucky to have me, too?
And then somewhere along the way I started seeing other moms barely keeping their heads above water. Other moms complaining, “I want some time to myself but I don’t think my partner can handle the baby without me. I want to take a shower but whenever I hand my baby off they start crying. I would love to go to the grocery store alone but I don’t have anyone to watch the baby.” And it occurred to me that I’m a big idiot.
Having a spouse who has such a strong connection with our child isn’t something to be jealous of, it’s something to be proud of. Having a husband who takes responsibility for his daughter isn’t a mistake, it’s a triumph. I hadn’t done anything wrong, I had done everything right by choosing him as my partner and co-parent.
Do I still get a little twinge of envy when all she wants is Papa? Absolutely. But there are times where she won’t calm without a Mama snuggle and I know she’s as much mine as she is his.
She just sees him with heart-eyes, same as Mama does. She is my mini-me, after all.