My child hates me.
Okay, maybe she doesn’t hate me, but I am certainly not her Most Favorite Person Ever. That title goes to HBF, aka Daddy, who can do no wrong. (Last night, at bedtime: “I love Daddy” “Of course you do, sweetie. Do you love Mommy?” “Nope. I love Daddy. And medicine.” Don’t ask.)
Me, on the other hand – I’m persona non grata. On a good day, she tolerates my presence with a polite firmness that makes perfectly clear that she has boundaries and that I am to respect them (NO, Mommy, just me and Daddy gonna play outside. NOT YOU. THANK YOU.) On a bad day, she wants me as far away as possible, and tells me so in the fiercest of terms. (GO AWAY MOMMY. GO. A. WAAAAAY!) Sometimes, she pushes at me with her little fists and furrows her wee face into a scowl and issues her command that I retreat in a terrible little voice that is somehow at once deep-throated and high-pitched. More than once, she’s thwacked me with her Toadstool (aka Phallic Lovey), as punctuation to her commands. More than once, she’s thrown her entire little being into the effort of getting me away from her now. More than once, she’s growled and scowled and faced me like an enemy.
GO. A. WAY.
And, you know, even though I know that toddlers go through these phases, and even though I know that her behavior is probably even more understandable now that I’m in the late stages of a pregnancy that has taken me away from her – in spirit if not in body – far more often than has been tolerable for me, even though I know that of course she still loves me, even though I know all of this, it hurts, and the pain of it cuts deep. She scowls at me and tells me to go, go, go away don’t stay here go away I don’t want you here BECUZ and throws her wee body against my legs in an effort to just get me away and it’s like a million tiny knives cutting through my skin and into my bones and it takes every ounce of emotional energy that I have left to not burst into tears right in front of her.
Do you want to give Mommy a kiss?
Do you want to give Mommy a hug?
Can Mommy sit down next to you?
She’s not like this all of the time, of course. She’s been quite happy to go out for coffee with Mommy on occasion and go to the bakery with Mommy and go buy treats with Mommy (which, you getting the picture here? If Mommy shoves cookies or candy or mock lattes in her pockets, Wonderbaby is quite happy to have Mommy nearby. Otherwise, not so much). But these remain exceptions to the general rule, which is Mommy go away. And that breaks my heart.
It breaks my heart because now, more than ever, I want to just snuggle up with her and really revel in these last days of exclusive togetherness. I want her to be Mommy’s girl for just a little while, so that when her baby brother comes (she now pats my tummy and refers to him by name, loving him, it seems, a lot more enthusiastically than she loves me) all I’ll need to do is grab her hand and whisper Mommy’s girl and she’ll know that ours is a special love and that we’ll always, always have it, just between us. But she doesn’t want that right now. She wants her dad. And she wants Mommy – slow, belabored, distracted Mommy – out of her face.
And that hurts. It really, really, hurts.
I almost didn’t write about this – because, in part, I’ve been something of a cranky-assed downer of late, and am getting sick of my own bitching, but more so because I feared hearing anything, from anyone, that might suggest that this is not normal, that I must be doing something wrong, something to make her justifiably angry with me, something to make her want to keep her distance. Something beyond just being pregnant and distracted (which, if it is the pregnancy? Is bad enough, because whither our mother-daughter relationship when the baby comes, and I’m even more distracted?) Something wrong with me, something bad about me, her bad mother. And I just didn’t think that I was up for hearing that, even as the gentlest suggestion.
But if it is me, I need to hear it, because I need to change it. And if it’s not me – if lots of children go through this – then I need to hear that even more. Because I need some peace.