The Daddy Phase

So I just Googled “My 10 month baby hates me”. We’ve had a rough week to say the least. My normally happy, smiley, gorgeous little boy just doesn’t seem to want me around so much anymore. It’s breaking my heart. As a full-time working Mummy, I spend chunks of my week away from him. I used to be met with smiles and cuddles when I got home, but I’m lucky at the moment if I get 15 minutes of happiness from him before the fussing starts. Similarly at the weekend, while we have chunks of joy, I just cannot get him to nap without an hour of him fighting me first. The naps are then short – 20 minutes or so – and he wakes in a worse mood than I put him down in. Daddy can get him to nap, Nanny can get him to nap, but at the moment, it just seems Mummy can’t.

I tell myself it’s a phase, he is teething, he is right in the middle of a developmental leap, but it’s hard to not take it personally. He is my whole world, and I’ve loved him more than anything else in it since the moment I found out I was pregnant. He’s always been a Mummy’s boy, and I always felt this love mutually reciprocated. Until recently.

Turning to Google in my hour of need after a particularly bad napping tantrum just now (I literally have an hour – Daddy just took him out to the shops while I deep-breathe), it turns out I’m not the only one who has found this. Apparently the “Daddy phase” is a common occurrence around this age, and through intermittent periods during the toddler years. At this age, babies are developing an increased sense of self. They’re coming to realise that after months of essential mothering attachment, they and Mummy are actually two separate beings. While they may have always loved and smiled and played with Daddy, there is a growing awareness now that they can be with Daddy as much as Mummy, and that Daddy is FUN. With this this new found Daddy fascination however, babies find it hard to comprehend the new dynamics in the Mummy-Daddy-baby relationship since the frontal cortex is not yet fully developed, hence what appears to be favouritism for one particular parent develops. Having always been the go-to parent, this is something I am equally finding hard to comprehend!

I guess I should look on the bright side, that after many months of being the primary caregiver, Daddy can have his turn to receive all the wonderful smiles and cuddles. He can now also taken more responsibility in getting our son to sleep – something that has normally been my forte in the evening. But I’m not going to step away or allow my presence to disappear. I’m going to be right here when he comes back around to Mummy. But for now, I just have to accept that my baby is growing into a boy, and a fascination and love for Daddy is only natural (especially having the coolest Daddy ever!) I’ll keep reminding myself it’s a phase. My 10 month baby doesn’t hate me. He is simply growing and learning about who he is, and the other people (aside from Mummy) that are the most important in his little world around him, and what is more beautiful than that?!

For now, I’ll take comfort in the fact that the cat, who definitely hated me when I brought a newborn baby home, seems to love me again…

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