Sick of Your S***!
A couple of weeks ago, there was a cute, little post going around on Facebook, telling parents to ask their children a series of questions and write down their responses. Super fun, right? That’s not sarcasm, it actually was really fun hearing what my daughter had to say. Until we got to one question, “What makes you sad?” Without skipping a beat, my amazing, little love said, “Mommy.” Heart. Shattered. I didn’t know what to say. We just sat there looking at each other. She had no idea that what she had said was absolutely devastating to me. It literally took me two minutes to finally choke out, “Why does Mommy make you sad?” Her answer (“When you send me to my room when I’m not listening.”) cleared that up a lot, but it still really kicked my ass to know that the one thing that really makes the love of my life sad, is me. Not Mommy and Daddy. Just me. Mommy.
I know that I’m a decent mom. I know that my baby loves me and generally likes me (ish, clearly). I know I’m not alone. I know it’s normal for kids to go through phases of preferring one person over another (or others) in a family unit, especially when that “other” is the disciplinarian. I know this. But like every single parent out there, I have days when I feel like I’m doing an awful job. And when my kid tells me that I’m the main reason for her sadness, there’s nothing quite like that kick in the gut to really drill in the fact that I’m probably subpar at best.
Someone has to be the “bad guy” sometimes, though, and unfortunately there’s probably always at least one authority figure who’s more of the disciplinarian than the other(s). It’s completely necessary, but I really fucking hate it. I feel like a real asshole every time I have to carry out a punishment. I hate making her cry. Sometimes, after repeatedly asking her nicely to do or not to do something and I finally send her to her room because being nice is getting me NOWHERE, I’ll sit on the couch and cry while I listen to her rage against her evil bitch of a mom in her room. In those moments I often wonder if she likes me at all. Ever. Even though it’s trivial and we always make up and move on, those bad moments are the ones that stick with her, even at three years old, and they’re the ones she talks about most when talking about me. It makes me scared and heartbroken to think that our relationship is already riddled with tension before we’ve even reached the teenage years of angst and parental hatred.
With her father (and seemingly everyone else), on the other hand, she is usually a complete angel. He is her favorite person in the world and she saves all of her sweetness and the good listening skills for him. To be fair, he’s a pretty amazing dad and one of my favorite people, too, and she sees me a lot more than she sees him, due to work, which I’m sure plays a part. But it drives me crazy that there’s such a vast difference in the way she treats us. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not an awful child, but she certainly has no problem saving her threenager bullshit for me. She has no problem making it clear that she will always prefer him over me. At times it makes me resentful of him. I know it’s not his fault, but I wish so much that I could be favored just as much he is. I wish she derived as much joy from me as I do from her. I wish she listened to me without argument, like she does with basically everyone else.
But…that’s just not how it works and I know that someday, all of these shitty moments will pay off and she’ll be a good person because I didn’t let her get away with being an asshole kid. And when she’s much older and maybe has children of her own, she’ll be in a similar boat at least once and she’ll ask me how I handled it and I’ll say, “Not well, but it comes with the territory and you’ll get through it, I promise.” Because that’s what we do. We get through it. And if you’re reading this thinking, “This is my life,” I promise you will, too.