When I was three months pregnant with my first child, after a particularly difficult day with someone else’s rowdy toddler, I called my mom in a hormonal fit of tears and exclaimed, “Mom! This kid is just awful! I can’t have a boy! I just can’t, because I won’t like my own kid!”
There was a short pause and then my mom calmly said, “It won’t matter if you have a boy or a girl. Sometimes you will not like your child.”
“That’s a terrible thing to say!” I sobbed.
“But it’s true. You will always love your children, but sometimes you won’t like them very much.”
My 22-year-old self was pretty sure she was kidding, because obviously, my mom liked me all the time. Right? I mean, isn’t that a mother’s job? To like her kid all the time? Still, I breathed a sigh of relief a month later when the ultrasound tech announced that my husband and I were having a girl. Problem solved. I would definitely not have a reason to dislike my own kid. I was having a sweet baby girl and I was meant to be her momma. Of course I would always like her.
That was 17 years and three kids ago, and I’ve learned a few things since then. Most notably, I’ve learned that my mom was right (about this and a whole host of other things).
2. Sometimes I don’t like them very much and that’s OK.
Mom is not just something that you are, it is something that you do and MOMMING IS HARD. Whether you are a single mom or have a competent and involved partner. Whether you have a village of help or you find yourself isolated and far from home. Whether you are a generally happy person, or you struggle with depression and anxiety. Whether you are rich or poor. Whether you are a boy mom or a girl mom. Whether you have one kid or 10 kids. Whether your kid is shy or outspoken, timid or daring, gentle or wild. Whoever you are, whoever your kid is, whatever your circumstance—sometimes you won’t like your kid and that’s OK.
Gosh, you love them. You love them so much it hurts, right? You love them so much you can’t understand how life existed before them. You love them so much there aren’t words to describe it. You probably have days when this entire mom thing feels like the most natural job. Loving your kid may be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. You may know, with absolute certainty to the core of your being, that this is what you were created to do. You may find it difficult to not brag on every single brilliant thing your kid has ever done. (Hello, the world needs to know what amazing humans you’re raising!) Your kid may be the sweetest soul or the most talented athlete or the earliest reader or the kindest friend. NO DOUBT, YOUR KID IS AWESOME.
There will still be days when you don’t like your kid very much and that’s OK.
You are not a bad mom—you are human, you are the mother to one or more humans, and every human is unique and imperfect.
Nobody likes everybody all the time. It just isn’t realistic—even for moms.
And guess what? Sometimes your kids won’t like you very much either. Your toddler may go months preferring your partner over you. Your preschooler may vehemently and dramatically choose her older cousin above every other human on the planet—even you. That’s OK, too. At the risk of sounding cliché, this too shall pass. Your relationship with your child will ebb and flow with time. At times you may be able to influence the tide, but sometimes you will have to ride the wave until it passes. This is OK. Even the healthiest of relationships experience highs, lows, and lulls.
Spoiler alert: your kid will be flat out annoying sometimes. Your child will act out. Your child will ask irritating questions. Your child will invade your personal space. Your child will talk. so. much. Your child will make poor decisions and huge messes. Your child will say mean things and hurt your feelings. Your child will act entitled and deserving. Your child will do dumb stuff and embarrass you. And sometimes, in those moments or in moments when there isn’t even a very good reason, you may not like your kid very much and that is OK.
You love your children. You don’t give up on your children. You let them be who they are and feel what they feel. You let yourself be who you are and feel what you feel. Annoying imperfections and all. One step at a time, you become a better version of you and you help your tiny humans become better versions of themselves. You guide them and correct them and discipline them. You love them BIG. You offer heaping servings of grace for everyone at the table. You give them the gift of a genuine, stable, healthy relationship that loves even when it doesn’t like. You peek in on them when they are sleeping and soak in a few moments of quiet, overwhelming, all-consuming love for your child and let the like creep back in on you.
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