“You HATE me!”
These were the words shouted at me last night as I closed the door on my daughter.
And she was right.
At that moment, I hated her.
I know I’m not supposed to say that. I am breaking the #1 commandment of motherhood: “Thou Shalt Not Say ‘I hate my child,’ even when thouest feeleth it from the very depths of thine soul.” And I hate myself for saying it. I really do. I imagine all of the awful things that could happen to me, or her, once I say this horrible thing and how very, very sorry I will be for thinking something like this. Surely fate will come down and show me something really worth hating. But if I don’t say it, I am going to burst.
I HATE my daughter!! Aaaaaaaaahhhhh…that feels so good.
I didn’t say this to her, of course. I just thought it. Hard. I knew it was a momentary reaction to her behavior and I’m savvy enough about this whole “mom thing” to know I’m supposed to use phrases like “I can’t stand how you’re acting,” “I don’t like how you’re behaving right now,” or some other politically correct statement that won’t scar her for life. Something that specifies that it’s her actions I despise, and not the person performing them. But I can’t imagine a scenario wherein a hostage would tell her gun-wielding captor, “I really hate how you’re acting right now.” The momentary truth is just so evident. I was hating her.
My littlest girl is no walk in the park. She’s not even a walk on a dirty, rocky beach. Quite frankly, she’s more like a tough climb up a steep mountain…like Kilamanjaro or Mt. Everest. She’s REALLY hard to parent. She doesn’t listen, she never does what I ask — and she whines. A lot. To make matters worse, when she whines she uses a scratchy shriek that makes you want to peel the corneas from your eyes. She cries, she complains, she rebuffs, she criticizes, and she is showing early signs of an obsessive compulsive disorder I am definitely not qualified to handle. I’m tired.
Every night is a battle. A battle to get her to sit at the dinner table, a battle to get her to leave the table to take a bath, a battle to get her out of the bath and into pajamas, and then — our “Waterloo” — the battle to go to sleep. I submit my demands, she balks, I fight back, some possible “French” is exchanged, and her poor brother, who sleeps on the bottom of their bunk bed and has to listen to the whole thing, loses.
This girl even has a routine. Every night she pees three separate times, each time thoroughly washing her hands as if she’ll be performing surgery. She asks my opinion on what pajamas she should wear. She puts on the ones I don’t pick, and I am then commanded to “fill them with love.” This consists of a two-minute ritual where I hug the pajamas, kiss them and hold them to my head and body while thinking pleasant thoughts. If it looks like I’m not happy while I do it — I must start over. And smile. Then she needs to “stretch” before she gets into bed. If I’m lucky, she climbs the ladder to her bed without coming down to pee again and stays there to organize her stuffed animals. She lays her “chilky” (silk blankie) down on her pillow just so, then as I say “Okay, honey…it’s time for kisses and hugs” she comes up with a million questions that have absolutely no bearing on the task at hand. “Mommy? Can I have a playdate tomorrow?” “Mommy, what was that big word you used this afternoon?” “Mommy, I think I want bangs. What do you think?”
“What do I think? I think you should go to sleep.”
“But I want to know if you think I should get bangs.”
“No. I don’t think you should get bangs. They’re hard to keep and you are beautiful the way you are.”
“But I want bangs!”
“Then get bangs.”
“But I want to know what you think!”
“Livi. I don’t want to talk about bangs right now. It’s bedtime. I’m going to sing ‘Snuggle Puppy’ now. Are you ready?”
“You’re not getting it!!!!!!! What if I want bangs and you don’t think I should get them!”
Are you kidding me???!! These sorts of philosophical debates that can’t be solved with a simple “yes” or “no” are the hallmark of our nighttime discussions. Needless to say, she persists in trying to get a satisfactory answer to her quandary (for which there is none…) while I try and get her to forget about her Extreme Makeover and go to sleep.
I’m seriously at the end of my rope.
I want to go back to that time when she was a little baby and we would stare into each other’s eyes with mutual love and affection. Our “conversations” consisted of smiles, blinks, and the occasional burst of gas. She was so sweet. She was so loving. She was sooooooo good. I called her “my party favor” because she was such a treat. I miss that girl so much.
I love her. Of course, I love her. She’s my baby. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s loving… (see how I keep telling myself all the good stuff?) But I want to love her all of the time. I want to be able to hug her and kiss her juicy cheeks without her screaming at me for some infraction I never intended: “OW! You pulled my hair!”; “You’re squishing me!”; “Your breath smells!” I want to fill her up with my love and spoil her. But I can’t. She forbids it. She lays down the gauntlet by finding a way to hold my attention using a negative scenario. And we both lose.
I don’t know how to win. I don’t even want to “win.” I just want peace. And to get some kind of recognition that I am in charge — or at the very least, that I pay the rent.
I’ll do anything — therapy, counseling, smudging (an ancient ritual where you burn sage to get rid of the evil spirits). You name it. I’ll try it all. Because I love this girl fiercely. Not the actions. But the whole girl.