It goes back to the very beginning. I didn’t manage to breastfeed her and before we knew it we were regularly feeding our daughters, side by side, and alliances were being formed.
Having twins was an incredible initiation into parenthood for two utterly clueless adults. It quickly became apparent that they were two very different little people. One was quite content to go to sleep by herself and in her own cot, for example. The other required a lot more holding.
Now that they are swaggering nicely into toddlerhood, I appreciate those cuddles that she still looks for very, very much. It is so gorgeous to get those little squeezes all throughout the day. But when they were tiny babies that need for constant holding was challenging for me. It probably suited Andrew’s natural inclinations slightly better.
Now, when Andrew leaves the room, she is absolutely devastated. If he calls down the stairs to say something to me, she hears his voice and then he doesn’t appear, she can’t take it. Why would he be in the house, she seems to think, and not be here with me?!
The other morning, while I was having breakfast with the girls, Andrew went up to have a shower. She clung, wailing, to the stair gate at the bottom of the stairs for the next 20 minutes. Inconsolable and impossible to distract. I leave the room all the time and nothing.
I can’t be sad about this. When her dad leaves and she gets upset she is absolutely heartbroken. I can’t want to create those feelings in her! And it would be hard for me too, trying to have some time to myself or get some work done, to hear that expression of pain.
At our wedding, my dad began his speech saying “I first met Liz when she was about 4 years old”. It was a very funny opener. Because, of course, my parents were together throughout my early years. But my dad would not have been involved with all of that.
Despite that, I know how much he means to me. He was a hugely important influence throughout my childhood, especially as I was getting bigger. It’s a bit unfair really, to my mum who put in all those hours, that I should care for him so much as well.
It means that I know that not being her favourite right now won’t matter in the long run. And I do see how much she loves me besides. Plus, let’s face it, this is all easy for me to say when we have two.
It doesn’t always have to be mum. That creates an unfair impediment for anything she wants to achieve outside of her family. And if it’s not mum sometimes, that might just be fine.