As a parent to one high-strung, strong-willed, and free-spirited 4-year-old boy, I experience days where I do not like the small person sitting beside me at the dinner table.
I have days where I feel like if we were the same age, we wouldn’t be friends or hang out in the same circle. I go through times where I feel like if there’s a way to escape this maddening child — any way at all — I’d take it as fast as I can say “I’m outta here.”
The constant sounds that come from his tiny voice so forcefully in the shapes of “NO!” “I WANT!” “RIGHT NOW!” “GIVE ME!” beat me down like a hammer does to the nail in the wall. His incessant rebuttals and negotiations make me want to hide deep down a dark hole, where I can’t be found.
My anxiety spikes like a rocket shooting into space and I feel like I’m the only parent in this whole wide world who can’t seem to get her child to listen.
You wouldn’t judge me if you could step into my shoes for a day.
Maybe, a bit dramatic — yes. But if you could feel me — just slip your feet into my shoes for one breath — you’d understand.
You wouldn’t be that woman in the checkout line giving me an odd look because my kid is running back and forth, clearly in the way of others.
You wouldn’t be that man in the coffee shop, looking all irritated because my child is speaking as if he’s holding a bull-horn preaching to an audience.
And you certainly wouldn’t be that mom, holding her quiet kid, looking at me disapprovingly while I try to calm my son down at Costco because I refuse to buy him yet another water gun (Sorry Janice, my son is loud and guess what? He’s 4!).
Sometimes my frustration makes me not like my own kid.
The worst part about all of this is that the embarrassment and the frustrations lead me to not like this person.
The person I myself made with my own body. How awful does that sound?
Hear me now — loud and clear — I love my son with every fiber of my being. There is no one I could love more. Loving him, though, doesn’t mean I have to like him all the time.
No one will ever need to question whether I love my child, but liking him, well, that’s different.
My little human will be fed and cleaned and played with and loved each and every day. But no one can tell me that I need to like him each and every day.
No one can say that I HAVE to like him even when he’s behaving like a mini terrorist plotting to destroy the very same people who provide him with everything he needs to succeed in life.
Don’t tell me there hasn’t been a time when you haven’t liked your own child.
You can judge me all you want, but you can’t look me in the eye and tell me there has never been a time when you didn’t like your child.
Like if you had the option of running away or staying put, you wouldn’t choose the former.
Parents are still human. Mothers and fathers and guardians of any kind are still allowed to feel things other than love when they join the parenting world.
Yes these are our kids, but they are not us.
My son is not me or my husband. They are — thankfully — their own person and it’s our job to help shape them into kind and productive members of society.
Once the storm clears and everything settles back into place, I look at my child and I know there isn’t anyone I could possibly love more. I reflect on what happened and how we can change things next time — because there will be a next time.
I love my child 365 & 1/4 days a year, but I’d be lying if I said I liked him each of those days. And that’s OK.
*This post first appeared on The Antsy Butterfly Facebook page and is shared with permission.