While on vacation, my 2-year old latched onto my dad. He wanted very little to do with me, but wanted to constantly be near Grandpa. I wondered about it, until we had this conversation early one morning:
2-year old: "Mommy, wait for me, I want to come with you to find Grandpa."
Me: "Sure I'll wait for you - because I love you."
2-year old (in a totally matter-of-fact voice): "You don't love me."
Me (after a pause with mouth open wide): "What? Of course I love you."
2-year old (maintaining a calm, straight-forward tone): "No, you don't love me. Grandpa loves me, and Daddy loves me."
Me: "But, I love you too."
2-year old: "No, you don't. Grandpa and Daddy love me."
Me: "No, I love you - and, I love you even more than they love you." (Let's not mess around!)
2-year old: "No, no you don't. You love (our 5-year old girl). And, you love pink."
Me (suddenly I get it): "Oh, I do love her, but I also love you - a lot."
2-year old: "No, only Grandpa and Daddy love me. And (our 7-year old) and (our 11-month old) love me... You are a girl, and you love (our 5-year old girl)."
We arrived and he immediately ran to my dad's side.
I could not believe how articulate my 2-year old was in explaining to me that he is now "one of the boys" and that he wants me to recognize that. He turns three in a few months. I remember this age well with my oldest. It's interesting to watch and feel it as they attempt to identify more with their dad and become more "masculine," and simultaneously distance themselves from anything feminine, including Mom. I can see how it could be painful for a mom, but my boys are still excited to see me each morning and give me big hugs, so I'm totally okay with it, and, plus I recognize that it is just a phase: tonight (a week after this conversation) my 2-year old gave me a hug goodnight and said, "Daddy loves me, and you love me."