Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this Fall is I LOVE YOU BUT I DON’T ALWAYS LIKE YOU! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on the concept of loving versus liking our children and their behaviors. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
“I love you, but I do not like you right now”
If I had a dime for the number of times I have said this (or a variation of this) in the past few weeks, I would have a nice “mommy-time-out-time” fund saved up. I mean seriously. The spitting. The raspberries. The laughing in my face. The changing of the subject. The defiance. The shaking of that cute little preschool booty and all of the potty language. Oh, the potty language!!!!!
Sometimes, I find myself in the place of loving my 4 year old mini-me with all of my heart. . . and despising her behavior with all of my being.
I love you. . . . but I don’t like you. It’s a bitter reality. And a huge lesson. Every time.
Miracles into Monsters – A Gentle Mother’s Un-doing
I have a profound affection for both of my children. They are my flesh and blood and the embodiment of the care, commitment, and passion that my husband and I feel for one another. I adore the miracles that are my children. . . and I know that the joyful challenge of parenting is a true blessing.
But sometimes, those awesome, miraculous, beautiful Silly Bears (mostly the 4-year-old one) just act so extremely unpleasant, and there’s nothing I can do to turn it around.
Turning Monsters Back Into Miracles
In retrospect, I watch myself in my mind’s eye going through the paces of mothering in a difficult situation, and I want to just break into the moment and tell myself:
“Stop! Stop trying to get her to do it your way and just love her. Stop trying to discipline her and control her and just love her.
I know that you want this moment to end, that you don’t want to fight with her anymore, so just hug her. Just hug that extremely disrespectful, nagging, spitting, cackling, potty mouthed monster of a baby girl.
Breathe in her slight-framed, sticky-fingered, wispy braided-pigtail-wearing, ridiculously awful cuteness
until she stops seeming like such a monster and starts looking like your little miracle again.”
Reconciling Unpleasant Moments
In reality, these moments don’t end with a hug. We will get tired of taking breaks to calm down, and one (or both) of us will lose it and have a fit. Then there’s a few moments where we hate eachother. . . and a few minutes a while later when we sit face to face, holding hands and talking about our emotions and our needs and how mommy and Abbey can do better next time.
Thinking about it, I think that reconciling unpleasant moments is definitely one of my favorite parts of parenting. The blow- up… The fit… The fighting… Is totally not fun. But seeing my daughter understand that being upset with someone doesn’t mean there’s no love there is awesome. Helping her understand that everyone is human, everyone is culpable, and everyone also deserves and receives forgiveness is amazing. The moments of “I love you but I don’t like you” . . . are hidden blessings for me, because the reconciliation between myself and my baby is a special thing.
Though the two of us regularly torment each other with unpleasant behaviors, our conflict also allows us the opportunity to connect and reconcile our thoughts and needs together.
Next time, though, I might try a little harder to end it with a hug – before it blows up.
- Love vs Like: How to Deal With Not Liking Your Kid — Amy at Presence Parentingexplores an approach to loving what we dislike the most about our kids.
- Maternal ambivalence … and why it’s ok — Lauren at Hobo Mamadiscusses how we can’t live up to the “maternal ideal” as much as we — and our babies — might want us to.
- Miracles into Monsters and Back Again — Amy W at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work processes the pain and hidden beauty of a gentle mother’s greatest weakness – when little miracles act like little monsters!
- When Mothers Love But Don’t Like Their Children — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on the deeper meaning behind loving but not liking one’s child. She argues that a mother never stops loving or liking her child. In fact, the dislike is rooted in the behavior and not the person.
- Learning to Like and Love — JeninCanad at Fat and Not Afraiddivulges the long journey it’s been to learn to love, then like, her son.
- How Do You Like Yourself? — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about teaching her children likability.
- You Can Love Someone and Not Like What They Do — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children reminds herself, just as she reminds her children, that unconditional love is not dependent on liking what a person does.
- I hated my three year old — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how much trouble she had dealing with her 3 year old.
- I love her, but… GRR — Jorje of Momma Jorje vents a bit about annoying behavior, but loves her children… even when they drive her nuts!