So I want to warn you laddie
Though I know that you’re perfectly swell
That my heart belongs to Daddy
Cause my Daddy, he treats it so well– Cole Porter
Despite being drama-averse in my private life, I’ve somehow found myself embroiled in a bizarre love triangle.
In the beginning, my husband was a loving and trustworthy parent who doted solicitously. He carried our daughter on his shoulders. He bounced A around, he tickled her, he swung her upside down. He was always lots of fun… but he wasn’t me. He was A’s second favorite parent. And I thought all three of us were fine with that arrangement.
Then she turned two and suddenly she only had eyes for daddy. When I made her mad, she’d cry for him. When he was working late and couldn’t get home in time to put her to bed, she’d beg to stay up late so she could see him. He became her sun and moon.
Now she’s a few months past her third birthday and her feelings for her father are only intensifying. When he comes home from work each evening, she loses her mind with excitement.
I started grad school fairly certain the Oedipal Complex was bogus and I quickly learned that most of what Freud had to say about women and girls has been debunked. But six (?!) years later, I’ve come to realize that the Oedipal Complex is true, but only if I don’t take what Freud said literally. Of course, my daughter doesn’t want to murder me and have sex with her dad. That’s a preposterous theory. She has no idea what it means to kill someone or have sex with someone.
But she knows about love. She craves attention, approval, and affection from her father. She used to crave getting those things from her mother, but now I’m in the way. This is developmentally normal, this is perfectly natural, and it’s healthy. (If she had same sex parents, this wouldn’t be happening, but as it turned out she has a mom and dad.) Developmental psychologists say she’ll likely move out of this phase around age 6. In the meantime, my job is to disillusion her in the kindest possible way. I need to let her know I love her and I don’t hold a grudge about her favoring her dad over me. I get it. But she can’t have him because I won’t give him up.