I remember thinking how lucky I was. And that I just knew I would love her forever.
And I still do. My daughter is now 12 years old and I still love her so much. I love how kind she can be towards both strangers and family. I love how passionate she gets about a project, and can spend hours working on it. I love how she gives me random hugs and does so many nice things for me.
But I don’t always like her
Over the years we have had our fair share of fights. After the toddler tantrums and the teenagers, things settled down in our house for a bit.
Until my daughter turned 8 that is.
Apparently, most moms say that their children turning 8 years old was the most difficult for them to deal with.
It has to do with hitting puberty, hormonal changes, and a sudden demand for autonomy.
For us, it meant that she became more and more secretive. She started going to her room after school, staying in there the entire evening, only coming out for dinner or if I asked her a question.
She also started locking me out of her room when she was in there. And to make things worse she started lying to me about everything. About whether she had completed her homework or chores. About her grades, what she did at school, or who she was playing with.
And when she did talk to me she was mean. She would snap at me about everything. Blame me for everything that went wrong with her life.
I didn’t understand it. And I have to admit that these lies hurt me more than anything else ever has. I mean, this is my daughter we are talking about.
That was when I started to think “I love my daughter, but I don’t like her.”
Love and Like are very different
Love is a much stronger feeling than like. Love is unconditional. You might not always agree with the person you love, but you will always accept them for who they are. You might not like everything about them, but you will still love them.
Love is something that is always there, no matter what. You might not always like the person you love, but you will always love them.
Like is a more watered-down version of love. It has to do with whether you enjoy being around the person. Spending time with them.
And the truth was that during those 3 years, I loved my daughter, but I did not like her AT ALL.
When you love someone you don’t like
Loving someone but not liking them is difficult to deal with. Since my love was unconditional, I still wanted what was best for her. I wanted her to be happy, and successful in life.
But I was finding it harder and harder to see, how she would grow up to be those things with the kind of person she was becoming.
It felt like my feelings were all over the place. I felt guilty about not liking her, and yet frustrated at the way she was behaving.
My thoughts were so confusing It was almost like I was going through the same hormonal changes she was.
How I dealt with these difficult years
After months of feeling frustrated I finally went to speak to a therapist about how I was feeling. Here’s the advice she gave me:
What you are going through is normal
My therapist was also a mom, and she was very upfront with me about her own experiences. She said that most moms feel this way at some point in their lives. That’s because being a mom is HARD.
For her, it happened during the toddler years. She loved her kid but didn’t like him because of how stubborn he was as a kid.
She said she always knew toddler tantrums were normal, but they were very difficult for her personally. Particularly because her son was speech delayed, and found it difficult to communicate.
For me, hearing my therapist tell me that she went through similar emotions was oddly comforting. If someone with as much experience and knowledge felt that way about her child it meant that I wasn’t a terrible person about how I felt. That brings me to my next point.
Don’t beat yourself up about your emotions
Apparently, feelings are always valid. Even when they are negative feelings towards the person you love more than anyone else.
All moms suffer from mom guilt at some point or the other. And if it wasn’t about this it would be about something else.
But here’s the thing feeling shame and guilt isn’t healthy. In fact, it makes you into a worse mom.
When you feel ashamed or guilty of your feelings, it only makes them worse. You start to feel like you are a terrible person for not liking your own child. This makes it harder to deal with the situation, and can even lead to depression.
It’s important to remember that mom’s guilt is normal. And it’s okay to not be perfect. No one is. As long as you don’t let those feelings consume you, you’ll be able to move on and continue being a great mother.
Some ways to deal with mom’s guilt include talking to other mothers, journaling, and seeking out advice from professionals. It’s also important to remember to take time for yourself, so you can recharge and
Still express your love to your child
Sometimes when you love your child but don’t really like them, a divide comes between the 2 of you. And both you and your child can feel the resentment. That’s why it’s extra important to show your child you love them.
When my therapist pushed me to do this I started to suggest activities we could do together. Unfortunately, she rejected most of my suggestions. But I didn’t let that get me down.
I tried to look for other ways to show her that I loved her. I would use words of affirmation to show her how much I appreciated her. Every time she did something that made me proud, I made sure to express it.
I started giving her creative gifts. I made a photo collage of her over the years and wrote down something I loved about her during each stage. On valentines day I made a list of things that I loved about her.
Practice mindful parenting
Mindful parenting means that you consciously parent, based on what is happening at the moment without allowing your emotions to take over.
All of us come with some form of baggage. Childhood experiences, rejections, and hurts. And without realizing it our past emotions and experiences often impact how we behave in the present.
For instance, if as kids we were made to feel like our grades were a reflection of how smart we were, we may feel triggered when our kids don’t study. If you were always criticized for not being social that may have led you to think you weren’t good enough. And your child’s socialization habits may trigger you.
Through mindful parenting, I learned to regulate my own emotions better, so that I was more calm and patient with my daughter.
When I healed my own inner demons and insecurities, I found it easier to be more patient and loving towards her.
We still fought
Don’t get me wrong. expressing my love to her, doing mindful parenting, and working on my own emotional regulation didn’t mean that we stopped fighting. Or that I completely stopped not liking her.
We still had our intense arguments. She still said things that hurt me to the core. And I had my moments where I couldn’t take it anymore and yelled at her.
But mindful parenting helped me stay calm more often. It meant I got angry a little less. And it meant that I was able to discipline in a more fair and effective manner.
Continuously expressing my love towards her meant that our bond stayed strong enough that we could get through the difficult years.
And forgiving myself for my emotions, and my mistakes meant that I stopped feeling like a bad mom. and I stopped experiencing the shame spiral where I began to feel like a bad person.
My daughter is now 22 years old
My daughter is now 22 years old and we have a fantastic relationship. She’s in college, but we regularly speak to each other over the phone, and she still brings her laundry home for me to do when she has time!
We laugh, we hug, and we talk. You would never know that there was a time when I didn’t like her at all. Or that there are still days where we have fights which we both find frustrating.
Just remember it does get better. The childhood years are tough for everyone. You just need to hold on, and work towards being kind – both to yourself and your daughter!