Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I love you, but I don't like you. At all.

I taught preschool before I was a mom. And oh, how I idolized the kids I taught. Sure, they occasionally got on my nerves, but on the whole I worshipped the ground those kids walked on. The parents of the kids in my class could rest very comfortably knowing that their kids were well-loved in my class. I adored them and did my best for them, every day.

I quit teaching when I was two weeks away from giving birth to my oldest son. By the time I quit teaching, I had gone from preschool to child care, and my God, was there ever a difference. Maybe it was because I was pregnant, maybe it was because of the kids, maybe it was longer hours (on all of our parts), maybe it was the environment (again, on all of our parts), but by the time I quit I swore I would never go back to child care because I was afraid I would never want my own children if I did. And when he was born, the love affair with kids began again. With both of my boys, I had two years of uninterrupted bliss. My sons were the sun and the moon, and nothing would ever change that. (My daughter is slightly different, I'll get to that.)

Then they hit about two-and-a-half and shit got real. BLAM! Gone was my baby, and here comes this little wiseass Imma-do-what-I-want kid. And I found, to my horror, that there were times that I just did not like my kid. And it took me a while to realize and come to terms with something my mom had told me many times when she was upset...

I love my children all of the time. But that does not mean that I always like my children.

Take, for instance, my Charlie. Charlie is three-by-God-years-old. In just the time it took to write the above paragraphs, Charlie has:

~smacked his sister
~poured apple juice on the couch
~pulled babywipes out of the container and thrown them like confetti and
~climbed on the recliner and jumped off.

Now, granted, Charlie is an extreme example, because, well, you'd have to know Charlie. Charlie was born 4 weeks early because he was trying to kick his way out of my uterus and I couldn't take the pain, climbed the steps at 8.5 months old and has barely stopped moving since conception. He's always been a ball of energy. But still. I'm not digging this kid right this minute. At all.

But there are other times you don't like them and it's not their fault. There have been times that I've not liked all three of my kids and they were completely innocent. Like when they were newborns and getting me up every three hours, screaming until their faces were red while my tits ached and leaked.

Or when I looked in the mirror after losing all of my babyweight and then some, but saw my stomach that looked like a deflated balloon that a cat had scratched all to pieces, and realized that no matter how good I looked in my clothes, I'd never ever be able to look good in a bathing suit again. And in that moment, vanity won. I was not okay with the tradeoff. (I was very soon, but we all have our moments.)

Or when one of those rare moments of all three kids being asleep at the same time happens, and I go lay down to take just a quick powernap, and as soon as I close my eyes, one of them wakes up. DAMMIT!

These are not things that you have to like. Guys, we don't have to eat shit and grin about it. This isn't Caillou. (I hate that show.) Now, I'm not saying scream at your kids when you're frustrated and you don't want to be around them. That just ain't good parenting. I'm just saying that it's a completely natural thing and a completely natural feeling to not like your kids sometimes. Not just the things they do, but the way they act and the aspects of their personality. It's okay to not want to be around them. It's okay to want to leave them in a room and want to be alone.

You don't have to say it out loud. You can just say it to yourself, inside your head. Sometimes the tiny little pleasure of saying it in your head with gritted teeth is enough. The one thing I would caution is that you add, either in your head or out loud in your mutterances: when you say "I really don't like you," make sure you add "right now" to the end. My mother, while she was relatively frequent in letting us know that she didn't like us from time to time, she never ever said that without letting us know she loved us and putting that "right now" on the end. She said "I love you, but I don't like you right now." We always knew we were loved, but we'd pissed her off and we knew that, too.

And we knew it a lot.

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