Suburban Snapshots

Choosy Love

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Here's the scene: It is evening. I am lying on the couch buried beneath thirty combined pounds of dog and one laptop. I am deeply and visibly engrossed in a Facebook/Pinterest wormhole news item. Steve is in the kitchen. He stands at the fridge holding a half-gallon container of lemonade in one hand, a cup in the other. The child stands mere feet from him, and yet she exits the kitchen, walks to me, leans in — elbow pestle-ing my right nipple, face just an inch from my own — and sweetly asks, "Mama, can you please get me some lemonade?"

At this point I very calmly point out that the other household resident, who also loves and serves her, happens to be poised to respond immediately to this very need while I am mostly incapacitated by both the weight and breath of the animals, and highly engaged in — ahem — current events.

This is her M.O. lately; if both Steve and I are at home, Anna will almost always ask me to come to the bathroom, to watch her, to rub her back, read her stories, cut her chicken. If she climbs into my bed in the morning, nestling in behind me, she'll insist, "Mama! Put your face out!"

It's sweet in a way, but also frustrating. As soon as I'm in her line of sight I hear the inevitable, "Mama?" I can't walk from one room to the next without being asked to fetch something. I thought maybe she was trying to compensate for the hours she's home with me when I'm working and off-limits, but a friend who works outside the house tells me it's the same scenario at their place where her son has equal time with both parents.

It's a Mommy phase and it carries over to her treatment of Steve. Not only will she usually prefer my attention to his if we're both at home, but she'll deny him even the smallest affection. As the parent who spends more one-on-one time with her and who works the harder job with way shittier hours, I imagine it's tough to drag himself through the front door, into the bedroom where Anna and I lay watching Clifford only to be greeted with, "No Daddy! Don't look at me!" And I know the hugs she gives after I peel her off of me and insist she be nice to her daddy don't feel the same as the unsolicited ones.

Maybe it's the good cop/bad cop thing. Maybe it's the difference in the ways we show affection. Hell, maybe it's just because she's a girl or because she's three. I know it's a phase, I just wonder how long it will last.

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