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My 3-year-old daughter prefers other people to me

(9 Posts)
Wigsy Tue 27-Oct-09 23:37:17

I think I just want a little bit of a rant.

I have a daughter who turns three tomorrow, and I'm 23 weeks pregnant. I have a touch of prenatal depression: not completely debilitating, but enough to make me feel defeatist and alone about everything, like I'd really rather hide in bed and read all day. I find it hard to be all sunshine and smiles for my daughter without feeling painfully aware that I'm faking it.

We have long-term houseguests staying at the moment: a couple, both friends of mine. I actually introduced them to one another and am terribly fond of both of them. They got engaged recently and are all happy and la-la and on cloud nine and I'm really happy for them.

I'm finding it a little hard having them in the house, though, because they are way more fun for my daughter to play with than I am. They are younger, more fun, have more energy, get more sleep and are not pregnant, and unlike me they can just walk away whenever they can't be bothered with her company.

I know: I should feel grateful that someone is around to play with her so I can sit in another room and read a book for a bit. And I am! I like reading books. But this evening, as soon as I got her home from nursery, she just wanted to play with them, and didn't give me even a backward glance. I cooked her dinner, put her (protesting) to bed, and that was all I was needed for. I know I could feel happy about that, but I just feel like I'm only good for the drudgery part of bringing her up, the disciplining, teeth-brushing and washing-up, while other people are going "wheeee!" and being super-fun in ways I can't.

I only have a few months left of her being my only child and I don't want to spend them just being the person who says No and makes her go to bed when she'd rather be playing. Also, I am not a "wheee!", high-energy person. I can only be as fun as I can be, and I worry that it isn't fun enough for her any more.

It's her birthday tomorrow. I bought her a dolls' house: it's been waiting in the shed for three months. I brought it in tonight, got it all ready for her to see in the morning, and our houseguests announced they want to be up especially early to see her face. (They never usually surface until lunchtime.) Am I being selfish to want to just give it to her by myself? If they're there she'll only want to play dolls' houses with them while I get ignored.

I know the point of buying her a dolls' house wasn't to win her love, it was so she could have a dolls' house and hours of happy play, so I'm probably being a selfish twat. The whole situation's getting to me and I feel like the boring one in the household: I miss her seeing me as a source of fun. Am I being stupid? Answers on a postcard.

Rochel4 Wed 28-Oct-09 00:56:47

She needs you in ways that NO OTHER person can ever take that place. She needs you for security, love, physical needs, emotional needs etc.. fun is great, but when that ends, she'll go straight to you.
Why don't you spend some time alone with her, ask her what she'd like to do with you. I can't imagine she'll say no, because you're not fun enough.
It must be difficult having guests in the house while you are pregnant. Any way they can move on??

ineedalifelaundry Wed 28-Oct-09 01:17:28

You don't need to be high energy "wheeee" mum for your dd to love and need you and see you as someone very special indeed. My mum wasn't big on energetic fun either but she was gentle and kind and loving and loved. And absolutely special. You and your dd need some mummy daughter time. Take her to a petting zoo or something like that, just the two of you, no houseguests, and you'll soon remember that unique bond the two of you have.

Jamieandhismagictorch Wed 28-Oct-09 09:16:10

I can totally identify. At this age DS1 definitely preferred DH to me. Super lovey-dovey now (age 9 grin).

It is not selfish to want to give the dolls house to her on her own, and I think you should mention it to your friends.

Agree with what Rochel said as well.

The reason DD appears to prefer other people is simply that you are a "given" to her. In the nicest possible way, she takes you for granted. And isn't it good that she can ?

You have a touch of depression, and 3 is a very difficult age. All sorts of boundaries are getting challenged (they don't call them threenagers for nothing !), and unfortunately it is your job to do the discipline bits. I also had prenatal depression following a bereavement and felt terribly guilty about having another child (DS1 was 2.5).

Counselling really helped me, so maybe you might consider that. It helps get all those unsayable feelings out there.

Whatever, please go easy on yourself. You ARE special to DD, and you have a whole lifetime, with lots of ups and downs, to explore your relationship x

Jamieandhismagictorch Wed 28-Oct-09 09:20:32

PS, I'm not a "whee" person either, though I do try. It's hard when you are tired and low, which pg can do to you.

Someone on here recommended a book called Playful Parenting, which is really good for giving simple tips on getting round moments of confrontation, and re-establishing a connection with your child.

roseability Wed 28-Oct-09 15:06:05

This struck such a chord with me Wigsy

I have a DS three and a DD 4 months

I had PND when DS was born and always felt he had bonded better with others e.g. his Daddy and Granny. I too found it hard to be breezy and cheery when I woke up each morning with a sinking feeling. He has always had a preference for Daddy when he is around.

Having got over the depression when I fell pregnant with DD (and you will get through it too) I had a light bulb moment. Mothers aren't judged comparitively to others by children. They just are. Like someone said they are a given. Yes my DS has a special bond with others and yes they can sometimes provide what I can't but they can never be his mummy. Yes I get ignored sometimes when Daddy is around but when he is really upset about something he comes to me. What I am learning is that a mother/child relationship is not a straight sailing process. It is a relationship with ups and downs but it is probably the most special one in your life

Do not underestimate the role your hormones are playing in making you feel tired and vulnerable. Pregnancy is a difficult time especially with another child. Yes get some one to one with your daughter but try and get some rest too.

Jamieandhismagictorch Wed 28-Oct-09 15:22:43

roseability just read your post, and it is similar to my experience.

DS1 also used to come to me when upset or hurt.

My relationship with DS1 changed a lot when he went to school. All of a sudden I was number 1 for him (I think because he realised how much he would miss me !). In the meantime, I am very glad of the brilliant relationship he has with his dad, and proud that I was able to facilitate that.

roseability Wed 28-Oct-09 15:36:10

I think children get different needs met by different people through their life. I also like your point about facilitating that relationship with Daddy. Quite often Daddy gets a bit left out or undermined. Because I was a bit down when DS was born my DH did a lot but it really helped him to bond with my DS. I used to be jealous but really I am not now. It is good for a boy to have a positive male role model. No I am not super cheery and energetic all the time but what I am all the time is there, providing unconditional love.

Jamieandhismagictorch Thu 29-Oct-09 09:29:16

How you feeling now Wiggsy ?

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