My daughter was only 9 months old when she broke her first heart. As is the case with most heartbreakers, she had no idea that she had left another’s heart in shambles… but she did. The unwitting fool who let this happen? Her mother. AKA Me.
For the past 8 months I had gotten used to being pretty much the one and only in Lyla’s life. I mean, she absolutely adores her daddy, her grandparents, and her many, many aunts and uncles – both blood related and not. She has also had various love affairs with stuffed animals, puppets and, oddly, even a Tupperware lid. But Mommy is Mommy, and for a small baby NO ONE can compete with that. Besides the fact that I spend almost every second of the day with her, I think that babies are hardwired to automatically and unquestionably love their mommas. I read once that a baby can smell her mother’s scent up to 50 feet away. Now, I know that motherhood has done me no favors in terms of how often I get to shower, but smelling me 50 feet away is pretty incredible. Like superpower incredible. What would her name be? Super Schnoz? Wonder Nostril?
Anyway, before I started rambling on and amazing you with my super interesting scientific facts, I was making the point that when my daughter was small she was almost exclusively a momma’s girl. So imagine my distress when my husband was holding Lyla, and as I reached for her, she desperately clung to him and cried like I was some creepy Great-Aunt – you know the ones who wear too much drugstore perfume and kiss you on the mouth with their lipstick-caked lips that are somehow just a little too wet? Yeah, that’s who my daughter was acting like I was. A creepy, mouth-kissing aunt. Not the mother who carried her in my womb, and who gave birth to her, and who has a mouth of normal wetness. But regardless, she cried and refused to come to me, and totally broke my heart.
So what did I do? I am ashamed to admit this, and the only reason that I am admitting it is because I promised myself and my readers that I would be honest about everything. So… what did I do? I cried. A lot. I cried and I cried like a little baby.
Now intellectually I know that my daughter loves me. I also know how much she loves her dad. Who can blame her? EVERYONE loves her dad. He’s a much nicer person than I am. Intellectually I know that she sees me nearly every minute of every day, so I am nothing new. Her dad, while very loving and involved, is at work all day so when he is home, it’s a bit more exciting. I get it. To my baby, I am like the sky… it’s nice and all, but you don’t really think about it too often. You don’t even have to look outside to know that it is there. It’s a constant. But her dad? Her dad is the sun. When the sun is out, you can’t help but notice how beautiful it is.
So intellectually I know all of this to be true. But emotionally? Emotionally, it killed me. It felt like a rejection of the worst kind. Worse than the boy who didn’t ask me to prom in high school. Worse than the friend who betrayed me. Worse even, than the guy I loved who didn’t love me back. It felt much, much worse than any of these, or a million other rejections that I have faced in my life because, quite honestly, I have never loved anyone the way that I love my daughter. And so, because in many ways I am still that fourteen-year-old girl without a prom date, and because rejection really fucking hurts, I cried.
So how does this tale of unrequited love end? Well, like most fickle-hearted flames… by that afternoon she loved me again. She woke from her afternoon nap, and gazed up at me with her sleepy eyes and then broke into the most amazing smile. And, like most forsaken lovers, a little attention was enough to make me forget the heartache she had caused. I giggled like a school girl and all was forgotten as swept her up into my arms. Then she farted hugely and the magic was broken… but her spell over me was not.