A mother's love is forever, a mother's like is for....sometimes?
Amongst other things, I am a normal, run of the mill, mum. And, I dislike my child today.
It is a brave thing to acknowledge and if we are honest, is a confession many of us can relate to as we stagger down the parenting road.
My son pinched another child in school. Sitting with a heavy heart in the too-small classroom chair I met with his teachers. It is the second time this week. We are talking with him about using his words to speak instead of his hands. When we got home I asked him to sit with me and write a 'sorry letter'. To give him time to process and reflect. To offer a positive way to move forwards.
My nan would have put me in the shed...
Diving to the floor he screamed his opposition. Threw his snack at me. There is bread roll stuck on the ceiling...
He is hard to like right now.
Obviously I recognised he was angry (the snarling gave it away). Modelling good behaviour I got down to his level (noticed I need to clean the floor) and in a calm voice asked him to get up.
Avoiding detailing the lengthy narrative with an irrational five year old, let's just say Mummy was firm and patient. She cross-breathed through her nose.
Little boy chose to lay on the floor hysterical for 40 minutes and I left him to it. Can we put children on eBay? Whispering 'I don't like him' on the phone to my mother the words barely formed on my tongue.
Lack of sleep and the constancy of parenthood can wear you down emotionally.
I am SO tired.
Guilt settled heavily on my shoulders. This may not sound appropriately sunshine and rainbows. Or very parental. But I was taught not to tell lies, and this lie would do he, and I, no good.
Is it me?
Do I hear the quietly spoken accusation, 'If you were a good mother your child wouldn't behave like this and you wouldn't feel this way?'
I AM a good mother, I am just not a perfect mother. She is fiction.
No family is 'happily ever after' every minute of the day. Do you like your littles when they don't listen, draw on the walls, flush your iPhone down the toilet and scream at you?
Is it the child we don't like or their behaviour? I look down at my hysterical, snot covered offspring. It is hard to tell right now. I stop and sigh. He is not evil, not the devil incarnate. Do I like what he is doing right now?
But I am his mother, it is my responsibility to manage this behaviour. To manage my response and my feelings. To put four Jaffa cakes in my mouth in one go as I secretly comfort munch in the cupboard.
Avoid comparing your child to other children. That sweet little girl from next door, she bites and eats potpourri.
Parenting is imperfection, joy, sorrow and a thousand feelings in-between.
Finding the 'like'
Our kids are not always hideous (sometimes they are asleep). They may be frustrated, anxious, going through one of the many cognitive, emotional or social developmental spikes. They may really REALLY want that bowl of ice cream you selfishly won't give them.
Your child does not have to like YOU every minute.
Children are also very perceptive. Don't tell them they are 'naughty', because naughty is how they will see themselves and that little label will shape them. Our children, with their fragile, complex, self-esteems need to know and feel that we like and love them. Even when we want to leave them on the bus.
A little voice shouts from downstairs, 'I am getting attacked by zombies!' A for effort kiddo. Shuffling feet find their way upstairs and a blotchy red eyed little boy says, 'I am ready to say sorry mummy.'
Gently I take his hand and lead him downstairs.
This is sometime out of a day, it is not all day every day. If you are struggling to positively connect with your child. Or do not like parenting, for you and little's well being, talk to someone. It's ok.
Later I crawled next to my boy in his little bed as he slept. Gathered him in my arms and whispered, 'I love you'. Two little arms held me back. We both needed a stolen moment in the half-light.
Love is more powerful than like.
I will love him for always.
I like him some days.