I will admit to this - when I was first pregnant, the ending part of my prayer includes a tiny little voice asking God (very nicely) if I can have a little girl. It could be that I am very close to my mum so I like to think that perhaps, just perhaps, one of these days, I will have a daughter that would make the effort to call me, go out together and that we are able to chat about anything.
Naturally I was thrilled to little bits when I found myself in the family way with a little girl and started going amok with all the shopping before she was even born. From bows to cute little onesies (that read: Mum's little girl, no less) to pink shoes, it was just so fun having a girl. We also could communicate early on because we were doing Baby Signing and so the bond between us has been established from the early days.
I am a type A and a worrywart. Part of it stems from Dumpling having a very nasty fall when she was younger. So, I prefer to be around whenever I can. Not that I think I possess any super powers but well, I'd like to think that I can make things better. :p
Along the way, I became the defacto person for Dumpling to go to for almost anything (well, I think that's true for almost all mums!) and being girls who love pretty things, we also have loads of fun bonding through using similar colours, matching outfits, etc.
The hubs, on the other hand, work punishing hours where his version of "early" means he is home around 8+pm but more often than not, it would be around 10+pm. Naturally, he is not left with much bonding time except on Suns (he works on Saturdays too).
Being a homeschooling mum meant that I have a dedicated 2 - 3 hours with Dumpling every evening and coupled with the fact that I would bring Dumpling almost everywhere that I go, the bond between us naturally has become stronger and stronger. With Dumpling being aware of gender differences where mummy is of the same gender and we do "girl things", therein also lies a 'problem' - I was also aware that she is not as close to the hubs and I became very conscious of a widening gap between the 2 of them.
So what did we do to encourage a stronger bond?
1) Dedicated Activity
After discussing with the hubs, we decided that he would take over her swimming classes while I focus on a new class which Dumpling took a few months back. Initially Dumpling did ask me to join her instead but she subsequently stopped.
For me, it certainly is a nice change to be up at the deck where I can watch the two of them having fun. I have caught many special moments on video and camera where the hubs would commend her on the improvements made, where the two of them would 'monkey' around together and where he would encourage her for her effort.
These days, when the hubs can't make it and I need to take over, she'd actually sulk!
2) Puzzles and Play
On days when the hubs does reach home early, I would also remind (and at times nudge) him to spend some time with Dumpling before he tunes in to the TV! This is where they two of them would tackle puzzles, blocks and legos; well, basically the things that mummy suck at! :p
3) Saturday Breakfast!
This started when I started teaching on Saturday mornings. The hubs would have to then settle breakfast with Dumpling and this became their special 2 - 3 hours and they sometimes invite the gramps too. Now that I am taking a little break, this "tradition" still continues where we will have breakfast together as a family but I get the hubs to bring her around to get / buy the food instead.
So far, I'd say that the additional effort and the swop of roles / activities seem to be working. The two now do seem closer than before. Naturally she does stick to me more often but ahem, when it comes to things such as 'unhealthy' snacks - no surprise there as to who she reaches out to!