It happens all the time. I'll be talking with another mother, and she'll be sharing the latest trials in her house: "My two-year-old is so obstinate! He doesn't listen! He is driving me crazy!" I'll listen to the story and laugh and commiserate. But after a while, she'll pause for a moment, and a guilty look will come over her face. Then comes an abrupt about-face: "But I LOVE my kids...."—followed by an all-too-earnest diatribe on how wonderful motherhood is.
I have to admit, I do it too. It's hard not to—no one wants to look like a "bad" parent. But I'd like to pass on a message to my fellow mothers: I get it. You don't have to defend yourself, and you don't have to explain.
My kids can be cute and cuddly, smart and funny. My husband and I often watch them at a party or a family get-together and smile at each other with a secret swelling of pride, thinking, They are so adorable! How did we get so lucky, to have such wonderful, beautiful girls?
Sometimes, my kids are absolutely lovely.
And other times, they are more akin to demon spawn.
But does admitting that mean we love them any less? Of course not.
My husband put it well the other day, as we were lamenting the horrid behaviour of our three-year-old over a glass (bottle) of wine. "Look at it this way," he said pragmatically. "If you had a friend who constantly burst into tears and threw massive temper tantrums and yelled at you that they weren't going to be your best friend anymore, would you like them all the time? Would you be okay with that kind of behaviour?"
So let's collectively let go of the idea that we, as parents, have to handle the vagaries of our children's moods and desires with perfect grace. We're not perfect; they're not perfect. But we're hardwired to love our kids—so let's just accept that love as a given.
And let's be honest with each other about our struggles and feelings, so that we can find a solution, a coping mechanism or, at least, a measure of comfort that we are not alone.
That's what I'm trying to do here.
Because, you know, I love my kids.