The second fiddle whines

There’s been a development in our family relationship that I’ve been a little reticent to mention, in part because I don’t really want it to be true. But it is: more and more frequently now, Nico is having moments where she clearly (and verbally) prefers Marta over me.

If I try to figure out when it all started, I think it was with my first pregnancy and then miscarriage. I was so sick and lethargic the first trimester, and then pretty depressed after the miscarriage, that I spent a lot more time on the couch than I normally do–and less “fun” time with Nico than I ever had been before. And Marta spent a lot more time taking care of and entertaining her.

Then I left for three months for the writing residency and came back and promptly entered first semester lethargy again. At that point, Nico still wasn’t showing any preference. She was glad to have me around and, though she reacts differently to the two of us as parents, she seemed pretty content to have either of our attentions at one point or another.

It’s only been within the past month or so that she’s started to change. At first it was just that she wanted Marta to put her to bed or that she went to Marta when she was upset. But recently there are times that she actually won’t want to talk to me or won’t respond to me in, shall we say, a polite way when I ask her to do something (but she will do what Marta asks her to do). A few times she’s actually snapped at me and given me the deadeye stare.

This isn’t all the time, of course. Just yesterday we took a long walk down to these woods near this house where we’re staying in Iowa City and we talked the whole time. The day before she woke up and first thing went over to give me and then my belly a hug.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the once equal distribution of love/need has shifted. We went to some friends’ house for dinner last night and Nico was super shy (another new-ish development) and stuck by Marta’s side the entire night. I realized later that that’s become par for the course when we go out: she’ll look for Marta, not me, to protect her from strangers.

I try my best not to take offense, because her reaction is pretty natural given the circumstances, but it does make me sad.

So, to not dwell on that, I’ll leave you with another, happier update: Nico has also taken to introducing themes of conversation into our nightly dinner rituals. It all started at a hotel in Oklahoma City. We were sitting on the hotel bed eating sandwiches when she said, “Can we talk about a topic while we eat?” So we asked what topic. She suggested “favorite animals.” We talked about that and then she suggested “favorite foods.” We’ve now moved onto “favorite dreams” and “favorite domino illustrations.” I feel that we are really getting to know each other quite well. 🙂

8 thoughts on “The second fiddle whines

  1. My Romanian dental hygienist, Ina, was saying yesterday that her 10-year-old daughter has started arguing with her about everything. And I was thinking, bet there came a time when the daughter realized, “My mother is a DENTIST!” and everything went downhill after that. Clearly, you can’t win.

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  2. Henry has two moms and he does this ALL the time to his non-gestational mother. He can be downright mean to her or just look straight through her. I think it’s totally normal and one day, Nico will favour you – she’ll take turns!

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  3. I have kinda gotten used to Linnea clearly “favoring” Jessie over me. Just the other day I must have tried to get Linnea’s attention away from Jessie for like 5 minutes, it was a no go. Although I do relish the fact that when Jessie and Linnea get together there is no separating them…like peas and carrots those two.

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  4. My daughter (who is nine months old) also has times when she clearly prefers her other mom (her gestational parent), and I sometimes find it really hard. And then I feel guilty and petty for taking it personally. It’s a different situation of course with children who are such different ages, but no matter what, being second fiddle is tough.

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    • Thanks for commiserating. It’s hard, but it somehow helps to hear about other who gave something similar. Also, I’m glad to have found your blog. Look forward to reading it in the future.

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