Thursday, October 23, 2008

Love/Hate

My mother was fond of saying, "When you were a teenager, though I always loved you, I didn't like you at all."

I believe her. She did not like me very much at all. Between the ages of 12 and 17 I was at war with my mother. We screamed and yelled and doors were slammed - mainly by me but she slammed her fair share - out of frustration because neither of us were getting our own way. She wanted me under her thumb because she loved me and wanted to keep me safe and the only way she knew how to do that was to control pretty much my every move. I wanted independence so badly I could taste it and pushed her buttons every chance I could. We were the same person living in two different bodies and that, my friends, was a recipe for disaster.

I didn't like her and she sure as hell didn't like me.

Raising two girls is my mother's parting shot from the grave. A little joke to chuckle over in the afterlife. She always told me during those years at odds with each other that she hoped I would have two girls just like me so I would know one day what she was going through.

I thought I'd have at least twelve years before I had to worry about that. Eleven at the earliest.

I got three.

Chicky is three going on sixteen. She is defiant, opinionated and very independent. Except when she doesn't want to do something and then she demands I do it.

"No Mommy, I don't pick up my toys. You do it." With arms folded and a look of triumph on her face. Yeah, who's in charge here? I ask myself that question fifty times a day.

Next week she'll probably climb out of her window in the dead of night to run away and get a tattoo of Elmo on the small of her back.

If this is how she is now I should probably get to work on my padded room before the teen years start.

We are at war. Which means, she is shaping up to be exactly like me. And right now my mother is laughing so hard she's probably wet herself. If you can do that in heaven.

I love my daughters. No one who has read this blog for any length of time can ever accuse me of the opposite. I love them fiercely. I would wrestle a bear to save them. I would throw myself in front of a speeding bus. I would beat up the playground bully if I had to, if that meant keeping Chicky safe and happy.

But sometimes I just don't like her.

And some days it even goes beyond that.

I wouldn't say that I hate Chicky because that's too ugly a word. But I believe there is an emotion that is stronger than dislike but not as base as hate that only parents experience. It's a mixture of dislike, frustration, resentment, exhaustion, with a smidge of wounded pride and a sprinkle of heartache. It makes our blood boil and has us seeing red whenever it bubbles to the surface.

Extreme dislike? I'm no wordsmith. Maybe someone else has a better term for it.

I think it's normal to have these feelings from time to time. We raise our children to be decent human beings. We teach them to say "Please" and "Thank you" and have good table manners. We raise them to be moral and just. To be kind to animals and to help those in need. Respect authority but think for yourself. Always kiss me goodnight, say your prayers (if that's your thing), and wash behind your ears.

But then, then, in those dark hours between 4pm and bedtime when they're literally bouncing off of the walls and you're tired of yelling, "I said get out of your sister's face and if you make her cry you will never watch television again do you hear me young lady??" for the billionth time (and by "you" I mean... Oh, never mind.) you look into their faces, still round with a touch of baby fat, and you want nothing more but for them to Go. The. Hell. Away.

Because this is how you treat me? After everything I've done for you?? Do you have any idea what my once perky breasts look like because of you, you little ingrate???

You don't really want them to go away. At least, not forever. No. You love your child. But for that moment you really, REALLY, don't want them around because they're not being very likable.

I hope one day when Chicky reads these entries she understands why we screamed so much at each other. I hope she gets some insight into her mother's crazed rantings by reading these words. I hope she knows that I always loved her but sometimes I didn't like her. At all. But yes, I always, and will forever continue to, love her.

And I hope she has two girls just like her so that she knows just what I went through.

36 comments:

Patois said...

I'm with you 100%. Yes, "hate" is too evil or harsh of a word to use. But, oh, the utter disdain and dislike and distaste I have when it's going on...Yeah, we need a good term for it. Just as "love" can't describe adequately the passion we feel for the kids, "hate" doesn't cover the raw emotion I can feel toward them.

I applaud your willingness to fess up to it.

Whirlwind said...

Three is a hard age. Much worse then the two's everyone warns you about. But don't give up, four, oh glorious four, is right around the corner. Four can be reasoned with and is actually fairly pleasant. Oh sure, there are still dark days, but they come around on a much rarer basis.

Mama said...

Oh how I love this blog! All I want to say to you is THANK YOU for having the b*lls to post something like this. Not many people would have the courage for fear of being judged. I happened to read this on a whim and am happy to say that you are now officially on my list of 'blogs that I follow' Thanks again for the great read!

toyfoto said...

Abhor? That's a good word. I Abhor my child's behavior some days. I also abhor the fact that it seems to be my own lack of consistency that often brings on the worst of it. Sigh.

Anyway, my mother tried not to let on that she didn't like me. She always made it a point to say that she loved AND liked me but that she didn't like what I was doing, saying, thinking, acting like or feeling.

To tell you truth; on the rare times she said she didn't 'like' me it hurt me worse than if she had said she hated me. I probably wouldn't have believed she "hated me" but that she And really? Her saying she didn't KNOW me hurt worst of all.

I guess what I've taken three paragraphs to say is it's all just words. We all interpret them so differently.

Say 'hate' if you want to; just realize it's the behavior not the kids we really hate.

Bea said...

I've felt that emotion you describe (as recently as this morning, actually), but I find it helps to remember that my reaction isn't really to my child at all. It feels like it is - that what I hate is his behaviour, at least, if not him. But I don't feel that way at all if I have anticipated the misbehaviour and have a strategy for how to deal with it. I can remain completely calm amid terrible tantrums if I feel confident that my reaction is appropriate. It's when I feel helpless that the feeling wells up - when my strategies have failed and I can't think of a new one and my child seems to be winning which means that I'm losing ... that's when the ugliness wells up. It's not them at all - it's self-doubt and powerlessness.

Heather said...

Gotta love karma.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend whose preschool tot is a lot like this...very independent, very defiant, and GROWN. Three was rough for them, but four has been so much better. The daughter is in pre-K now, and other activities, and that away-from-mom time seems to make it easier for them both.

motherbumper said...

Oh word, WORD, I say. I love my Gigi as fierce as Tyra but there are hours in the day where I just plain ol' don't like her. I think you said it way better than I could ever dream of because if I tried to craft something as eloquent as this, all the post would read is "STOP DRIVING ME INSANE DAMMIT - I DON'T LIKE YOU RIGHT NOW - BLARGGGGH".

beth - total mom haircut said...

I was just trying yesterday...and today...to figure out what word this was. It started when I thought to myself, "I hate him" about my three-year-old son. And then realized hate was too strong, but dislike was not nearly enough. We need a special word, us parents.

If it makes you feel any better I have two boys:)

Anonymous said...

Can I getta AMEN Sista!!!!!

FWIW, I have one of each. The older is 8 younger is 4. The 4 y.o., a boy, and I had one of those evenings you described.

I just read him a story and tucked him in. "See you tamarra mommy. I love you."

Ok, we just rolled back over to love.

Blog Antagonist said...

There is a southern colloquilism that goes..."You pay for your raisin'(g)" Which means, that the amount of you grief your children give you is in direct proportion to that which you gave your own parents. I've found that it's disconcertingly true.

It's not easy raising smart, autonomous, free-thinking little human beings. They are not quiet. They are not compliant.

But they are fierce. And I choose to believe that one day, that fierceness will carry them farther than I, or they, ever dreamed.

At least that's what I tell myself when I'm curled up into the fetal position on the bathroom floor.

The Stiletto Mom said...

My mother is gone too...and I miss her so much. However, she left one final curse, "I hope you get one JUST LIKE YOU" and boy did I.

Miss G is seven and defiant with a personality larger than life. She actually already says pfft. And? I think she first said it around 2.

Her older brother is 10 and I swear he is the only thing that grounds me because he is so level headed but he reminds me every day that they won't be babies forever...so after I hug him for whatever sweet and adorable remark he makes, I take a deep breath, look at her and think...well, I turned out okay and I still love my mother...and then I hug her really hard even if she doesn't want me to. Even though I secretly want to scream. :)

Mr Lady said...

Honey, the word you are looking for is LOVE.

How many times have you wanted to club your husband over the head with his own golf clubs?

Same. Thing.

Fab post. I love it. NOT in the I love my 3 year old daughter way, either. :)

Mags said...

Again, another excellent post!!! Again, I can totally relate.

SciFi Dad said...

I feel similarly, especially now that we have two kids. I find myself pushed to the brink sometimes, where I use a tone that I would rather not use to get her to do/stop doing something. I hate it.

Avalon said...

Mrs C~~~ I can still relate, and the Princess will be 25 years old in a few weeks. I adore her. Truly. But sometimes when I see her car pull up in the driveway, I want to lock the door and hide in the basement.

That being said, she now teaches a class of 3 year olds. A few of them sound eerily similar to Chicky. The kicker------all girls!

Sally HP said...

Thank you for this post! I was trying to explain the exact feeling to someone about my darling H a few weeks ago, and each word I tried to use made me feel more and more guilty or traitorous because it just didn't sound right. It is something only parents can experience, I think because when else can you 'dislike' and love someone so much at the same time. Ah, toddlerhood. Aparrently uber early adolescence is the new black.

Landstrom family said...

I just love your blog and how real you are. I've got another year or so til my son turns 3 and I'm already dreading it. I have those days too, when I dislike him and know exactly where you're coming from. Bless you for having the balls to write these things for other mothers to stumble upon and find comfort in. It's easy to think you are the only one who feels that way sometimes.

Binky said...

One morning this week while I was getting The Boss ready for pre-school, my husband overheard our usual butting-of-heads. He goes "it's really true what they say about mothers and daughters. You guys are like oil and vinegar." And I was like, "Wow. It's starting already?" Sigh.

Major Bedhead said...

Wow. This is the post I've been wanting to write for, oh, maybe a year now. Thanks for putting it out there. I think it may have alleviated a smidgeon of my guilt.

BOSSY said...

It's the most wonderful horrible relationship in the world.

kgirl said...

I try not to let my lexicon take me beyond 'extreme frustration.'
Why is nothing simple? Why? Why?
I have said it before and I will say it again: Three may well be the death of me. I might die laughing, but it'll kill me nonetheless.

kgirl said...

p.s. a few people here talk about age four being glorious. let's hope so, because I have pretty much only heard it referred to as 'the fucking fours.'

kittenpie said...

I am, shall we say, intimately acquainted with the emotion of which you speak. Three is like that. Also sometimes four, sorry to say.

Jack's Mum said...

My nearly 2 year old son is already starting to push my buttons. He is exactly the character that you describe. He is the youngest child I know that sits in time out at least 4 times a day. I nearly did wet myself when you described Chicky in the dead of night going to get her Elmo tattoo. My son would be the one out front in his Little Tykes car ready to escort her! OMG what ever will we do!

Alex Elliot said...

Very well said, Mrs. Chicky. It's such a struggle because I want my kids to be independent and have questioning minds, but not to question me or give me a hard time. Ugh!

mothergoosemouse said...

I told CJ to go away this morning. Not thirty second later, I told her I was sorry.

I think it's the ingratitude that gets me. It's totally normal, but it still has the power to infuriate me.

Angela said...

Delurking to say, Bravo! Excellent and honest post, I think you helped a lot of parents out there who feel exactly the same way. My children are 10 and 7, it DOES get better and you WILL survive, but it really sucks while you're going through it. My sympathies, and sending you good thoughts that those days and times get fewer and fewer.

Mac and Cheese said...

I find myself asking people with older children, "When is the payoff?" They never seem to know. At least we're all in this together.

ewe are here said...

Exactly.

Even though my three year old resident stubborn nightmare is a boy...

Exactly.

Gray Matter said...

I have to say that at 3 I could rationalize my annoyance and "extreme feelings of dislike" one of two ways: Thinking God, he's so immature what's up with that? And two, giving MYSELF a time out so my head didn't explode while he enjoyed TV a few minutes (hours) longer. Now that he's 8 and a half I find myself being more verbal with my dislike from time to time. I am not above saying, "You are really annoying me, go away." or "What you're saying right now borders on stupid."

I wish I could refrain, but Jesus he is sooooo annoying sometimes. Anyway, I know this offers no encouragement--sorry.

Carol said...

Been a reaqder forever, but I think this is the first time I've commented...

We're now empty nesters. I swear, just YESTERDAY we had four kids born within 5 years at home. The years go by SO fast, I can't even yell you! But the days> Yeah, sometimes they dragged on forever and I wondered if my kids would ever grow up and leave.

Sigh.

The good thing is, they WANT to come back now -- and do. Often. They'll tell you that the reason why is exactly the reasons that we often felt like we were screwing up -- especially in their teen years: we made it a point to work WITH them and not against them, from the day they were tiny.

Locking horns about clothes (at 3 and 13!)? We each gave a little. She wore the ugly hat I couldn't stand, but agreed not to wear the so-short-you-could-see-her-ass skirt.

When they were young teens, we did a WHOLE lot of listening and sometimes swallowed hard to avoid judging. They kept talking -- and it paid off when they were older teens and driving and exposed to all kinds of choices, because they TALKED to us about those choices.

It was REALLY hard not to dig in our heels and go the "because I said so" route, and I would have sworm, more than a few times, that we were doing the parenting thing all wrong and they "HAD" us.

But we're on the other side of things now, and I have to say that for OUR family, this approach worked. The problems we dealt with, even as teens, were never of the heavy drugs, you're-throwing-your-life-away variety -- in which case, I'd be writing something very different here, I'm sure. But this approach worked for the battle-of-the-wills because it got diffused by cooperation before anyone (the child OR the parent) could dig in heels.

Love your honesty, love your blog. Glad to have finally left a comment! I'd be honored if you'd come visit my blog, if you're so inclined!

Carol

courtney said...

Wow, this line, "It's a mixture of dislike, frustration, resentment, exhaustion, with a smidge of wounded pride and a sprinkle of heartache," is exactly how I sometimes feel about my 9 week old. Then of course I feel guilty because dude, she's just a baby! But she's crying! And I can't get her to stop! And she won't let me eat! But I would never want to live my life without her - I love her so terribly terribly much.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Yup, after schlepping through 11 days in FL with my almost-8yo who was moodier than me with PMS, I was ready to throw in the towel and admit that I know nothing about raising kind, sensitive children.

But, I wouldn't really have left her behind in the Magic Kingdom. And, maybe that was what made me so furious----knowing that I'd never really walk away and having to put up with her moods at the same time.

Elleoz said...

Are you sure we aren't related? I so could have written this post myself. And I only have one girl. I don't know if I could do it with two.

And of course, at the end of the day after they are peacefully askepp or look at you with tears in their eyes, it just breaks the heart and dredges feelings of extreme guilt.

Isn't being a Mom fun sometimes ? :)

railing said...

There would just be bad and good times around the house huh.
but the connection may find its way in touching each others heart.