Editors Note: Just like all of the pieces in this series, the author will remain anonymous so that others may feel comfortable in sharing their stories. Please remember what courage it takes to share an unpopular feeling online, when you are commenting on this article. If we are able to be honest about the things that keep us up at night, that we are afraid to admit… then we can truly offer support to one another.
Oh, child of mine. I love you. So very much. I have since the first time I saw your tiny little face, and memorized your smell, and held you in my arms. I love how curious you are, and how kind and gentle you can be, how much you like to help and serve other people, and what a great leader and role model you are for your younger siblings. You are funny, creative, and smart. I am so glad to be your mother, and cannot imagine not having you. I cannot explain how much I love you.
But lately? Lately, I don’t really even like you.
I know. I shouldn’t say that. I almost definitely shouldn’t share it with the general public. And I am so sorry for even thinking it, but it’s true.
You’re a tween now. I know it’s all hormones and confusion and wanting to be grown but knowing you’re not. I know you are just trying to figure out how to be a real person. I know some of your friends are allowed to act like mean, rude children so maybe you think it’s ok. I know that almost every tv show, movie, book, and toy aimed at kids your age is teaching you things I don’t want you to know, and I’m not talking about the birds and the bees and bad words. I know it’s hard to be a military kid. I know this was your first move where you really know what you left behind.
But my love, this cannot last much longer.
I am so tired of your attitude. And the arguing about every.little.thing. You do not always have to be the center of attention. No one thinks it’s cute when you act like a toddler, or like you don’t understand anything. Please tell me when you became so bossy and defiant? And where did you learn all of this? Every eye roll and mutter under your breath makes me want to scream.
I am going crazy here. I know what an amazing person you are going to grow up to be, because I know what an amazing person you already are, so why, WHY is this miserable stage dragging on?
It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even get angry anymore. Alright. I get angry, but the anger doesn’t last long. It just makes me sad. Because I know that the truth is that I just don’t like you right now. I have talked to my mom and she assures me it’s just a stage that kids your age go through, and every parent gets annoyed by their kids. Still, I feel like a horrible person, a failure as a parent when I realize that I just don’t want to be around you. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten in an argument, and you storm off to your room, and I collapse, crying, defeated and depressed.
I just don’t know what to do. I try to be patient. I try to keep my voice calm and friendly. I read articles, I ask advice, I try new consequences, I talk to friends who have survived this stage. But nothing seems to work and nothing seems to change. Your attitude certainly doesn’t.
I asked my mother once if this was some kind of universal karma for me being a horrible child, but she has told me that I wasn’t like this. Neither was your father. Our parents never said that they hoped our children were just like we were. So what the heck?
I try to convince myself that it is just a stage, and that soon, my wonderful, outgoing, friendly, caring child will return. But I feel as though I’ve been trying to convince myself of that for years. And I just don’t know how we will survive the teen years when the tween years have tried me so much. How will we make it? And will I like you then? When will I start liking you again?
Kid, I promise I love you. I would do anything for you. I will fight for you, I will help you however I can, and I will do everything I can to keep you safe. I really can’t imagine life without you, and even on our worst days, I don’t want to even entertain the thought of not having you.
I have dreams and visions for our future. I realize how silly that is for so many reasons – I am married to someone in the military. This phase is also nothing like I had hoped and dreamed it would be, so why should the next one do what I want? But still, I have hope. Hopefully, by then, I will at least have convinced myself that this horrible stage was not my fault. Hopefully, I will like you then and will no longer feel like such a failure as a mom for not liking you right now. Hopefully, I will have worked through the guilt I have, and hopefully, I will have forgiven myself. But most importantly, the biggest hope I have now, is that you will have no idea that I ever disliked you and you will not be scarred indefinitely. And you will know that I have always ALWAYS loved you.
No. Matter. What.