I'm possessive about my kids. And I was raised by a single mother, so my default on how to parent is to do it all myself. With each child, I've gotten progressively better about sharing. With Jessica, I was just so in love with her, so in love with being her mother that I wanted to do it all. By the time Sam came along, I was better at sharing. But he was such a clingy boy, I ended up doing most of it by myself with him, but was so grateful for my husband because he was able to take over a lot of the parenting duties with my older child. But with Julianna - she's had such a strong bond with her daddy from the very beginning.
Which is not to say that he hasn't been an awesome daddy to my other two kids. He used to play "fight on the bed" with Jessie when she was barely two. One of my favorite memories is of her, all clean from her bath, curly brown hair and little princess nightgown on, and he'd whack her with the pillow, and I was horrified, but she'd pop up laughing hysterically and begging for it again. She'd run across the bed with her "war face," and tackle him and they'd collapse onto the bed together. He was the champion puma hunter (she was obsessed with pumas in her closet, and would frequently refuse to go to bed unless Daddy had checked to make sure it was safe). And my son was in love with him from the start. Not in love, more that he worshipped his daddy. He seemed to intuit from a very early age that he was a boy and so was his dad, and to this day, loves nothing more than doing stereotypically "male" things like mixed martial arts or putting stuff together or cooking on the grill. It was amazing to me, that Sam just knew that his daddy was who he needed to emulate and did everything he could be just like him.
But my Julie - she adored her daddy from the very beginning. One of the unforeseen blessings of unemployment was that he was home for her infancy, and was able to form such a tight bond. He was the one who put her sleep for the longest time, he'd rock her and rub her back and sing to her. Once she moved on to solid food, the majority of her meals were eaten out of his bowl or off his plate, and it's still one of her favorite activities, to sit on the floor and share a bowl of cereal with her "Yaya." I'm not sure why, but that was the name she came up with for him, and although she can say "Daddy," he's still Yaya. She misses him during the day, is mad at him for leaving for work each morning and rushes to the door to meet him when he comes home each night. I put the older two to bed early each night, and Julianna will stay up with her Yaya, they get a snack, watch Looney Tunes together.
This morning, I dropped the older two off at school, and as usual, Julie was in the backseat. She resents that they leave her each morning and was complaining loudly about needing her "G" and "My Boy" (which is what she calls the older two). But then she cheered up and said "I need my Yaya RIGHT NOW."
She's a daddy's girl, in the absolute most beautiful sense of the word. I've been thinking a lot lately about how critical dads are, and about how incredibly blessed and fortunate my children are. Because they have such an awesome dad. He flat out adores them and is never happier than when he's surrounded by all of them.
I'm grateful today, for Yaya, for the man who hunts pumas and teaches my toddlers about "war faces" and chases them around the house. I'm grateful for the man who taught my son to kill a bug, and my toddler to love hot sauce. Sometimes in life, you get lucky just by chance - and I'm forever grateful that this is the man that fathered my children.