Being a mum is so difficult.
There is no manual; there is no textbook; there is no 30 days free return policy.
Then, there you are, suddenly mum (or dad) and baby. Get on with it.
I love my children, to the ends of the earth. In fact, I don’t know a mother who doesn’t (I know really decent people). I look at my children every day and watch them grow, spread their wings, look at how beautiful and how individual they are becoming… the light side of parenthood.
What is all too often not discussed and swept under the carpet as taboo is the dark side of parenting, the side that brings out the human being in all of us. The side that makes us question our parental capabilities.
Love versus Like.
Let’s be clear, love is not like. I can love someone with all of my heart: an inexplicable and immeasurable need to ensure somebody else’s happiness, wellbeing and safety. Love is putting someone else’s needs above your own without reason or explanation. I love my children and I would go to any extent to ensure that they have everything their little hearts desire (to my own detriment at times) as long as I possibly can.
Love is the intense, involuntary, incomparable and unconditional affection you feel for someone else and in this case, how I feel about my children: a feeling beyond words, beyond measure, beyond explanation.
Just because I love my children, doesn’t mean I always have to like them.
Children are only small human beings after all and humans CAN be annoying. Why would your own children be any different? When you put a group of unique and individual personalities into a small space for a prolonged period of time (18 years plus), there is bound to be some head butting – That was a description of a family unit and not a prison might I add, though at times not dissimilar.
I am the first to admit, with love, that there are times that I do not like my own children. This is not a permanent state of dislike, I am not going to reject their justification nor will I ignore them as a result of this dislike (if it can be helped) but all too often, mothers are expected to forget who they are as a human being and be the epitome of motherly perfection instead, I am sorry, I am just not that mum.
I know that I can love my children without actually liking them; the two feelings are not mutually exclusive.
I can almost feel the judgement as some people would read that line and wonder how can I say that about my own children, those perfect mums I’ve already mentioned included. Disliking my daughters when their actions are unlikeable is by no means a reflection of my love for them, nor is it a reflection of my ability as a parent to raise likeable human beings. Likeability is subjective, what I may consider to be likeable is highly likely to be annoying and offensive to most, so who am I to dictate to my children how they should or should not be when it comes to being socially accepted. In fact, through life they are going to encounter people who dislike them, colleagues who dislike them, mutual friends and romantic interests who dislike them. The way I see it, I am teaching them a valuable lesson:
Not EVERYONE will like you. Not everyone will like what you do, how you act, what you wear, what you say. This is not a bad thing, how boring the world would be if we all liked each other and had nothing to tweet about. I have accepted that there are a lot of people that do not like me (including my young human beings sometimes) and I have learned that this is a good thing, I no longer have to force myself to be around people who don’t appreciate all of me for me. They too deserve to learn this lesson.
Unfortunately, dislike for your own children is likely to stem from behavioural concerns, this as they navigate the treacherous hormonal paths in front of them. No, I don’t like my six year old when she is bursting into tears every 5 minutes about unnecessary things. Nor do I like my eleven year old daughter when she is giving me a side eye and talking over me as she is being reprimanded for once again not doing something completely, so she may race back to her Snapchat story.
I am very fortunate in that these are normal behavioural changes for children of their ages, they are forming their own identities; they are being influenced by their peer groups and they are learning who they are and who they would like to be in this, a digital age. Just because these changes and moods are to be expected, doesn’t mean I have to like it – I am allowed to wear my own brat hat every now and again, no matter how many times I am told my children are well behaved and adjusted.
As a parent, it is very difficult not to feel like you are failing when you log into Instagram and see pictures of your friends’ happy, bubbly, posing children or when you go onto Facebook and the updates are only positive ones. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I myself am guilty of only pushing the positive online versus the negative, though I feel that this (Moonsomnia) is the right platform to look at the dark side (and sometimes light side) of parenting and start the conversation.
I feel that social media and society do create this expectation that we have to be this perfect mum above all else. Slowly but surely, we are getting to a point where we are pushing back; acknowledging that we are not actually mum’s first. We are human beings first and being a mum is one of the most important opportunities we have been gifted, it does not define who we are and we make mistakes, we don’t have perfect child-parent relationships (show me someone who does) and we are no longer afraid to talk about the darker elements of being a mum. It isn’t all daisies and roses.
Being a parent doesn’t come with a ‘HOW TO’ guide and we are all fumbling along the way, making mistakes and learning from each other. It is still foreign to me that stigma in this day and age is STILL A THING and there is a stigma attached to admitting that there are times you dislike your own child.
That doesn’t make you a bad person; it makes you an honest one.
So the next time your child does something you don’t like, don’t be ashamed to admit to yourself that you genuinely didn’t like it. Don’t be ashamed to talk about it and remember, you are a human being with human emotions and robotic stamina: you are a SUPER MUM (or dad!).
I would love to hear about your dark parenting experiences, help me by commenting below so I don’t feel so alone…