When I first heard it, it cut me so deep I stopped breathing momentarily. You know when you feel like the air has been knocked out of you and you start to feel nauseous. My daughter said ‘Where Daddy?’ WOW.
Of course, it wasn’t the first time that she had uttered the word. Although there isn’t a Daddy in the house and even in her life, she has heard the word from friends, family, strangers and from TV constantly. She is constantly talking about ‘Daddy Pig’ from Peppa Pig and if she sees a baby whilst out shopping or in a cafe will tell me ‘baby with Daddy’.
One of the first times that she used the word and it impacted on me was last November when we were staying with a friend in London. My friend’s son was calling his Dad, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy’ over and over again; my daughter thinking it was fun, started to join in the calling. It was so bittersweet. She didn’t realise what she was saying; such a simple word with such depth of meaning. But a word which she may never have the opportunity or cause to use in regards to her own Father. I realised then how little time my daughter spent around Daddy’s, as clearly to even to hear the word called was such a novelty. The majoirty of the time we are with friends it is with Mummy’s – with my friends, at toddler groups and childrens centres, at church – it is overwhelmingly spent with other women.
At the end of 2014 and the beginning of this year, my daughter did start to say the word a lot more. Usually completely out of context. To her it was just a word that she was practising along with any other. But there were a couple of times that upset me. One night, she was lying in her cot and resisting sleep. She started to call for Grandma (her usual reaction when she really doesn’t want to do something that Mummy is making her do) and then called Daddy, with the same pained and anguished emotion. It really upset me as it was said with such passion for someone who had never once cared for her, loved her, helped her, and there she was calling out for him with all the feeling she could muster. It was silly to feel hurt by it, as she didn’t know what she was saying, but that night I went downstairs feeling really lonely.
Now she will recognise people’s parents and talk about family relationships, all in a very matter of fact way. There is one particular friend of hers at nursery whose Father drops her off and collects her, and my daughter will point out S’s Daddy. There is another Daddy that comes to a stay and play session we attend and she recognises him as L’s Daddy. She is starting to become aware of the fact that a lot of her friends have Daddy’s.
I have recently started to see her attempt to piece together relationships. A friend of hers has a nanny and we recently spent the day together. Later that evening she asked me if the nanny was her friend’s Mummy. I explained that she looked after her whilst her Mummy was at work. My daughter then asked me whether her Daddy was at work too. It made me realise that she has already begun to discover that it is ‘normal’ to have a Daddy at home.
She is growing ever more aware of different family structures and relationships, and with her beautifully intelligent and curious mind I am sure that it will not be long until she starts to really want to know about where her Daddy is.