It’s becoming blatantly obvious that Arlo is a mama’s boy. He pitches a fit for 9 out of 10 attempts by my husband to hold him. It’s particularly bad in the evenings – when he gets sleepy he wants me to comfort him and no one else.
It’s to the point that I can just speak near him when he is in Brent’s arms and he’ll quite down for a moment to hear me. Often, in an attempt to get things done without a baby in my arms, I’ll soothe him to sleep and then pass him off to Brent. Sometimes it works, but most of the time he’s immediately aware that the switch off has taken place.
It wasn’t at all like this with our daughter – she was just as happy to be in my husband’s arms as she was mine. Even though I was breastfeeding her constantly, she happily sought Brent for comfort and care from the first day of her life. I’ve been thinking about why things are so vastly different this time and I think it’s two fold:
1. Brent had a harder time bonding with Arlo when I was pregnant.Before our daughter was born, we both found ourselves consumed by the idea of having a child. He constantly sang to my belly, talked to her by name when we learned I was carrying a girl, and rubbed lotion on my ever growing bump. Arlo’s pregnancy was different in that respect – we were both so busy with life and raising a child that it felt like it crept up on us a bit. He still talked to my belly, but nowhere near as often. We talked about it several times and Brent felt as if he was so busy chasing around Everly that he didn’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to getting to know his son in the womb. I think this is a very common experience for second time parents, but I do feel it has had an impact on their connection since Arlo was not as familiar with Brent’s sound and voice when he was born
2. We’ve found ourselves each dedicated to a child.Brent takes the bulk of responsibility for Everly’s care and I do the same for Arlo’s. This wasn’t exactly intentionally, but just a natural progression since I am breastfeeding Arlo and Everly was already accustomed to spending so much time with her stay at home dad. I think it is really impacting the comfort level between Brent and Arlo because he is not associating him as a caregiver. Brent was able to give Everly one of her overnight feedings as a small infant so that I could sleep longer, but since he has to be up bright and early with our daughter these days, I take all of Arlo’s overnight feedings
(Note: And here is where in the middle of writing this, I pause to meet Brent in the hallway. He’s holding a crying Arlo who wouldn’t settle down after waking from a late evening nap. I put his small body against my belly and he stops crying immediately. Brent gives me a weary look and says “He loves his mama”.)
I know that it won’t always be this way. Arlo and Brent will have years and years to get to know one another and build their bond but I know how much my husband wants his small son to be comfortable with him now. He tries every day to hold him and comfort him and I can see the look of defeat on his face when he has to hand him back to me again as he screams. It pains me too. I want Brent to enjoy these early days of Arlo’s development up close and personal the way I have been able to.
We need to find a balance in our caregiving so that Brent can establish a relationship with our son. I don’t mind one bit having a mama’s boy… but daddy is wanting his boy too.