I Love My Kids, But Sometimes I Don't Like Them
We stumbled upon this awesome article written by Mother Mag perfectly summarizing the struggle lots of parents have- they love their kids, but sometimes they don't like them. Baby Whisperers' goal is to normalize this feeling so that other parents know they are not alone!
Sometimes, I don’t like my kids. It hurts to say that, but it’s my truth. How awful and ugly does that sound on a scale of one to Mommy Dearest?
I honestly never expected raising children would be easy. Most of the time my kids are goofy and sweet and filled with cuddles, and our mutually shared love for each other is intoxicating. But, other times, especially on the days when my kids are behaving at their worst and pushing me until I feel like I just can’t take one more second, it feels like an impossible feat. It makes me not like being a parent, and it really makes me not like them, and that’s a pretty terrible feeling.
To be completely honest, I don’t like them when they are being crappy roommates. If my current situation were an adult living situation and my roommates constantly dumped milk on the couch and didn’t clean it up, or were always taking one bite out of an apple, then leaving it for dead in the back of a closet, or making me feel like I cannot have a day without trying to identify mystery stains on the carpet, I would probably start rethinking my living arrangements.
I also don’t like them when their bad table manners are in full swing. I am certain that if my kitchen were an actual restaurant, my kids would be denied service for all future visits. What kind of dinner guest dumps half of their meal onto the floor for our dog to eat? Who says that the mashed potatoes I made taste like barf? Who would force me to use UN-style negotiations to get them to eat their healthy growing food that I have meal planned for them a week in advance?
I don’t like them when I am overwhelmed with their messes and toys everywhere. And, while I appreciate older, more experienced mothers telling me to “love the messes” because one day they, along with my children, will be gone, it doesn’t help. All it does is make me feel even worse at being a mother.
In the age of social media, it’s nearly impossible not to compare myself to others, especially when it comes to my parenting. I beat myself up thinking about how those other moms never once feel disappointed by their kids. Those other moms never yell. They never hide in the laundry room just to get a moment of peace (or secretly eat a cupcake). The other moms most certainly never feel anxious that they are probably the worst parent in the world and are causing irreversible damage to their kid’s self-esteem. Those other moms always like their kids.
Learning to forgive myself for not being perfect is probably the hardest part of being a mom. My love for my kids comes easy. I can feel it freely without self-judgment. But, there are days when I am feeling like I don’t like or even want to be around my kids, and it’s really hard to let myself feel something towards them that isn’t beautiful. As much as I fight it, I just have to let myself feel it. I remind myself that it is my job to mother them all the time, but it’s not my job to like them all the time. And, you know what? Feeling that way is okay—it really is. Yes, I am a mother. But, I am also a human. A human with flaws and pet peeves, and a human that reacts when people, regardless of their age or relation to me, do things that upset me. And, just as I am only human, so are my kids. They are not glorious beings that can do no wrong. They have their flaws, too. They have their days of being messy and rude and willfully disobedient. And, that’s also okay.
My daughter once had a big fight with her best friend. I remember wiping away her tears because she thought that when you got mad at someone, you stopped being friends. I told her that wasn’t true at all, and reminded her that you can get mad at someone, and still love them; you can get so mad that you don’t want to be around the person you love the most in the world, and that’s okay. So, if that’s true with friends, why can’t it be true with my own kids? When animals in the wild get mad at their babies, they eat them. So, I have to give myself a little credit.
At the end of those really hard days, when my kids are sleeping and the house is dark and quiet, I climb into my bed and I am lulled to sleep by the sounds of their breathing. I remember all of the things I do love about them. And, I find comfort in knowing that even on the worst days when I am feeling like I absolutely cannot stand them, the love is and always will be there. In my sometimes not liking them, I actually end up loving them even more because I see them for who they really are.
My other truth? Even though sometimes I may not like them, my goodness do I love them. How I do love my crappy little roommates, always.
Thank you so much for this raw and honest letter, Mother Mag!
- The Baby Whisperers