I was hanging out with a couple of friends the other day, and one of them turned to me and said, “Can I just say something?” She hesitated. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I hate my kids.” Instantly, the other friend relaxed and said, “Thank you for saying that! I don’t know what it is lately, but I feel the same way.”
And guess what? I had just had a heart to heart with my husband about this same thing the night before.
I would love to say hate is a strong word. That’s not exactly what I mean. But whatever you replace the word hate with, it’s strong. Sometimes it’s not necessarily hate—it’s anger, frustration, impatience—and I feel it strongly.
Haters Gonna Hate
My kids whine. Constantly. And freak out. And throw tantrums. And it’s always because something wasn’t quite specifically the way they wanted it to be.
They want their mac and cheese at 96 degrees. Instead, it’s 98 degrees.
They want their juice in the blue sippy cup. Instead, it’s in the bluish-green one.
They want the temporary tattoo 1 inch above their wrist. Instead, you put it 1.5 inches above their wrist.
They want to wear long pants today. Instead, their pants are too long.
They want to give me a hug. Instead, I gave them a kiss.
After a day of this, and then another, over and over and over again, it’s hard to feel the love. Especially when you’re constantly trying and get shot down. During really turbulent weeks, it gets to the point where I don’t even want to try anymore. Get your own damn sippy cup. The tattoos go into the trash right before my kids’ eyes. It gets to the point where, instead of running to kiss boo-boos, I roll my eyes and sigh when my kids get hurt, where I actually research one-way tickets to Timbuktu, and where I actually understand why a mom would snap and drown her kids in the bathtub. When it gets really bad, it’s not just strong frustration, anger or impatience. It’s fucking hate.
We don’t hate who our kids are as people, and we’re not really going to drown them in the bathtub. but when this goes on day in and day out, it can be hard to find our balance, our peace, our patience, and our love. Especially when we don’t know where to turn for support. Because when we feel like we hate our kids, it’s scary to find someone to confess to. Not that mom who drops her child off at preschool with a smooth blowout and a perfectly packed Bento box. Not that mom in our playgroup who coos about how amazing her kids are. Not even our own mom, who seems to have blocked out any moments of challenge or weakness she may have had when raising us.
Share the Love
Here’s the thing—those moms would probably know exactly how you feel. In fact, they would probably welcome your openness and honesty, and it would almost certainly give them the opening they need to vent about what’s going on in their heads. And if we would just talk about this stuff, maybe we would share solutions and find ways to bring balance into our world so we wouldn’t let our emotions get to the point where we’re using the word hate. Maybe we wouldn’t let these emotions fester and fester to the point where we feel like we need to escape. Forever. Maybe we would get some support. And maybe we wouldn’t feel like the worst mother in the world. (In fact, a psychologist friend of mine explains how it’s the people who don’t talk about these feelings who do end up drowning their kids in the bathtub.)
But we’re human, and humans go through seasons. We need time to adjust to the different periods of our lives, and it’s important to learn from each season so we can grow and plant the seeds for new (more loving) seasons. It’s ok to feel strong emotions as long as we have a safe outlet and a lot of support. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that other moms are going through the same seasons at the same time as us, and we can remind one another that the next will bear better fruit.
Because in this season, every day there are tantrums. There is whining. There is a constant need. I have days during which I feel like I can’t take a shit because everybody wants something from me. There are some days where there is nothing redeeming about my kids until I check in on them at the end of the day and find them silent and still, their faces peaceful, their breathing easy. And at those moments, I feel an equally strong emotion. It’s at those moments that I’m overwhelmed with love for them.
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