So much of what we learn in school is never put to use. For instance, I really have no idea why learning how to drop an egg from the top of a staircase so that it doesn’t break is part of every elementary school’s curriculum. I also draw a blank when trying to understand why learning how to take care of that egg that made it ‘crack free’ and to pretend that it’s a newborn, is crucial to making it through 4th grade. There are, however, definitely a few things I wish I’d listened more diligently to. Particularly from that one psychology class I took. Sure, I learned about positive reinforcement, aversion therapy and Pavlov’s dogs – all of which actually proved to be invaluable information when on the dating scene and later on in parenting. In fact, I didn’t realize these would be all too easily applicable in raising a daughter.
And so I was extremely surprised when I was suddenly playing with my daughter only to remember oh-too vividly a lesson in Greek mythology about the Electra complex. So I know people say that “girls are for their daddies” but I didn’t realize how much of it was irritatingly true until I had a girl and she was in fact preferring her daddy over me. By a lot.
The Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Jung, is “a girl’s psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father.” So that’s basically the core of any mother-daughter relation? That’s really an Oprah show on its own. The name derives from the Greek myth of Electra, who wanted to avenge her father’s death by killing her mother, who was responsible for the murder. Mmhmm, how very Hollywood melodramatic soap opera-ish of the Greeks. Um…and they wonder why girls are so much more complex than boys?
So, here’s my confession: I have an 18-month-old daughter who I’m a tad bit competitive with. No, not in walking or talking or things I clearly excel at after 33 years of practice over her…but in my husband’s attention. I have to say, as with any obstacle in my life, I try and find a way to perhaps “deal with it.”
Here’s a list of a few things that definitely do not work in this situation:
Get pregnant fast. Show her that you too can have preferences. And hey, the new baby’s poopoo doesn’t smell like hers because he can’t eat steak and mashed potatoes yet.
Compete with her. Sure Daddy is yours during the day but who gets to sleep next to him? That’s right we stay up way past your bedtime missy and drink something you will not know the taste of for at least a few years. That’s right, I’m having wine with my husband. You play peek a boo all you want but when 7 pm rolls around he’s all mine.
Pretend you don’t notice. Ignore that she keeps reaching out for daddy and swatting your arms away when you reach out to her. Fight your way into the hug. Sure, this has resulted in some aggressive behavior from her side, but your scratches and bruises will soon heal and she won’t remember that you used force for affection.
Confuse her. Respond to her calls for “daddy.” I would go so far as to wear his shirt and tie and what the hell why not spray on some of his cologne. Letting you upper lip hair grow out and cancelling those threading appointments may be taking it a bit too far.
What does work?
Muttering and rocking. Once again, keep murmuring “it’s just a phase, it’s just a phase” while curled up in the fetal position. Rocking is optional.
So, after sobbing and googling and endlessly calling my mom only to realize this was “normal,” I decided to focus on the benefits. I can get a manicure (and have my nails fully dry), have my hair fully done and spend the day at the spa before she realizes I’m gone. My husband can barely leave the room to go shower without her bawling hysterically.
So, mamas, take the good with this bad and enjoy some you time while your little girl dances on her daddy’s feet until he can no longer walk…