My Toddler Screams in Fear at the Thought of Her Mother Putting Her to Bed

Six months ago I was thrilled that I had won Vivi’s heart. Being her favorite parent was exactly what I wanted and seemed like it would be a good reward for me after Casey was named Addie’s favorite parent long ago.

At the time I swore that it would only last a few more months before Vivi got old enough to understand who got her food for most of her meals and who changed her pants when she needed it. Eventually Vivi was going to switch alliances—it’s what kids do. At least, it’s what my other kid had done around the same age.

As time has gone on Vivi’s allegiance to me has changed, but not in the way I imagined it would change. Instead of Vivi switching allegiances and going to her mother, Vivi has become more attached to me than ever and it’s taking its toll on us.

When I’m at work, Vivi loves to be with her mother. She’ll hang out with Casey all day. They’ll play their little games, do the laundry, eat snacks, take naps, and cook dinner. As soon as I come home, everything changes.

When I’m gone and Vivi falls and bonks her head, she’ll run to Casey. If I’m home and Vivi bonks her head, she will run right past Casey and straight into my arms. When I go to the gym, Vivi demands to go along with me. It doesn’t matter if Casey and Addie are going to leave at the same time as me so they can go to the library or the store; Vivi has to go with me. She won’t have it any other way. If I’m at the gym and Casey comes to pick up Vivi in the middle of my session, Vivi will whimper and cry my name because she doesn’t want to leave me behind.

At restaurants Vivi has to be sitting in my lap. In fact, she has to be in my arms the entire time. When we went out to eat the other night, I handed Vivi to Casey so I could stand up and put my coat on. As soon as Casey had a hold of Vivi, Vivi began to shriek and lunge back down towards me. There was no coat for me that night.

When it’s time for bed Vivi will vehemently shake her head, say no, and run the other way when Casey asks if she can put her to bed. It’s not because Vivi doesn’t want to go to bed; it’s because she doesn’t want Casey to put her to bed. I have to be the one to put her to bed. One night last week I came home in the middle of Casey putting Vivi to bed. Casey had Vivi laying in her lap while she drank her milk from her bottle. When Vivi heard me come through the front door, she threw her bottle and jumped out of Casey’s lap and began walking the halls searching for me so I could finish the job.

Casey started our family movie last Sunday and I sneaked away so I could iron my clothes for the week. Ten minutes later I heard Vivi shrieking downstairs like she had fallen off the kitchen table. A few seconds later Casey dropped Vivi off in my room where I was doing laundry and that’s where Vivi and I hung out for the next hour. After I put Vivi to bed, I asked Casey how Vivi had hurt herself. Casey told me Vivi didn’t hurt herself.  She had stopped watching the movie and looked around and realized I wasn’t in the room anymore and she lost it.

While I love spending time with my little girl and I love that she loves me so much, I’m going to need a break from the bedtime routine. And I can’t help but wonder if with each shriek and lunge away from her mother, Vivi is making the the equivalent of a paper cut on Casey’s heart.

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