And I’m HeartBroken Over It
Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash
My child doesn’t like me. I’m convinced. It’s not something I’ve done, of course. All I’ve ever done is try to raise her to be a respectable human being. Who cares about others as well as herself, who’s smart, kind, compassionate, and maybe a little bit of a smart ass. Oh, I also provide a roof over her head, food on the table, or her dresser, her bed, her floor; clothes on her back, legs, and head, shoes on her feet. A tv in her room, an IPad to draw on, a switch to ignore and let collect dust, and an iPhone to ignore me from. Oh, and yes I pay the bills. But all those things? Oh, those things are nothing. Those are things I’m required to do. I’m required to finance the life of an individual who has no regard for me and doesn’t like me.
No, she did not ask to be here. And yes, there may be a law or two somewhere that requires me to support her well-being until she reaches a certain age, but there’s no law that says I’m required to provide an iPhone. Or an iPad. Or a switch. Or skittles (the red pack because I’ve been advised that they’re the best kind). No, it doesn’t exist, and if you can find such a law? Please feel free to reach out to me, I’ll be glad to give it a look over, and have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. As far as I know, however, food, clothing, shelter, and basic needs. That’s it. But I go above and beyond, because not only do I love my child, but I’m grateful for her, and I do LIKE her. That’s why it causes me no small amount of pain that she doesn’t LIKE me. Has she said these words? No. But she doesn’t. Let me prove it to you.
A.C. (After Covid)
Unless you are a stay-at-home mom, or you homeschool your child, we parents don’t typically spend much time with our kids during the week. Take my schedule P.C (Pre-Covid) for instance. I would get up around 6:30ish, go yell at my daughter to wake up, because she hit snooze on the alarm too many times, and go sit on the toilet for my morning “bum bum” (that’s code in our house for taking a dump, because yes, I have two kids under the age of 5, and the only other term I use for it, I can’t say to them). Now I have to be at work at 7:30 am, and it takes me about 18 minutes to get there with no traffic, but I still don’t get into the shower until about 6:54. I get out, get dressed, yell at my daughter to “come on, if she wants a ride to the bus stop,” and run out the door, with my daughter typically running to catch the car.
I drop her off, and speed to work, typically getting to my desk at 7:29 am. I’m usually a stickler for being on time (in fact it’s a pet peeve of mine), but something about getting to work before I have to just doesn’t sit right with me. I do my typical workday assignments, eat lunch, talk to my co-workers, (like physically, who knew I was taking that for granted), do some more work, and speed out of there at 4:00 pm. Now depending on my mood, I typically will squeeze in about an hour and a half at the gym before I go home because it’s the only time I get alone. At this point, it’s 5:45 ish, and I’m just walking in the door for the first time since the mad dash this morning. I speak to my husband, my children, (who have been picked up from daycare by my husband), and I proceed to figure out what we’re eating for dinner.
In a perfect world, my two-year-old is in the bed before 8:00 pm and my teenager before 9:30 pm, (of course this was B.A. (before Ava, my six-month-old). That means that after working, going to the gym, cooking dinner, and making sure everyone was bathed and in bed on time, I may spend about an hour at the most with my children before the day starts all over again. So when I say I know my child, I don’t really.
Really, I Don’t...
Yes, I carried her for nine months, I birthed her, nurtured her, and am currently in the process of raising her. I even have figured out all her little neuroses and can tell when “nothing” is really “something,” and have learned every curve, crevice, of her beautiful black face. But am I there for ALL of her day-to-day moments? No. When she gets confused about something, and looks to a friend, classmate, or whoever’s around for clarity or reassurance? Not always, no. Am I with her, on the walk home from the bus stop every day? Or when she travels from class to class all day? Choosing to eat lunch? Do I even know who she eats lunch with daily? No. And isn’t this where we learn who we are? It’s every day, little things, that allow us to get to know each other. And because of this thing called “life” coupled with the fact that I just can’t seem to win the lottery, I’m not there for it all. That is until this once-in-a-lifetime thing called a pandemic.
Suddenly those day-to-day moments I had been missing? Well, I wasn’t missing them anymore. And at first, that was great! I finally got to spend more time with my children and get to know the little human beings they had turned into. Because like the rest of the world we were trapped in our homes, with only each other for company, what else was there to do?
Virtual School. I could write an entire book on how horrible the experience has been, another time and place, let’s just say it SUCKS. For teachers, students and parents. Necessary evil? Yes, I know it is. That doesn’t make it any less sucky.
But this is where this “perception” I had of the sweet, sweet child I had raised began to change. Assignments. She wouldn’t do them. Just plain wouldn’t. When pushed for an answer as to why just a blank stare. When pushed further, blank stare + shrug. When threatened with no more iPhone, it became “blank stare + shrug + ‘I don’t know’ = mom trying not to scream.
There was a reason, she just didn’t want to provide one. And for whatever reason, she didn’t deem me worthy of the answer. Still to this day with two full months left of school, I still struggle to obtain one from her.
Then the Lies Began
My child is a liar. She’s a lying, deceitful, hurtful, manipulating, liar. P.C., she lied, but there was always a purpose. “Did you clean your room?” Yes, mom, I did. This was to appease me and keep her from getting into trouble. No malice involved. “Did you stay up late last night on the phone?” No mom, of course, I didn’t. This was so she could spend more time with her friends, still a lie yes, but again, no malicious intent.
“You have not been doing your assignments, and you’re failing classes, no phone, iPad, Macbook, or tv for a month.” This edict was met with sulking and pouting but seemed to be well received. The offender turned over all of the contraband, and the sentence commenced.
We were getting along without the electronic intrusions and the chatter from her friends. We were talking, spending time together, bonding, it was great! She was serving her time but wasn’t making me “do the time” with her if you catch my drift, (the worst part about punishing your kids is having to suffer the punishment with them). Things were going well.
At Least That’s What I Thought...
We’re a pretty technology-savvy household. Which means we all have devices. My son? An iPad mini. An iPad mini that he guards with his life. So imagine my surprise when I found out he had let his sister get on it. Not once, not twice, but for the duration of her entire punishment! The entire month. When confronted about it, you guessed it: blank stare. When pushed more: “I just wanted to talk to my friends.”
Ok, you didn’t listen to me, you played me for a fool, your punishment has now been extended to two months! Except this time she figured out the password to my laptop. Another confrontation, another blank stare. Two weeks after that? My husband’s iPod touch! Another confrontation, blank stare, my friends are my life explanation and shrug.
All the whilst I think I’m punishing her, she’s smiling in my face. Helping me clean (which she hates). Watching my favorite shows with me, having girl time, talking with me. Making me feel good, making me happy, all the whilst lying, cheating, and deceiving me behind my back. Upon the final confrontation, she dropped all pretenses, and simply said, “I don’t want to live here anymore. I want to live with my dad.” When pushed for an answer? Say it with me: BLANK STARE. Oh, and I don’t like my stepdad. And you’re too hard on me.
Hurt, Hurt and HURT
The only way I can explain the last few months, is heartache, after heartache, after heartache. My heart physically hurts. I’ve found myself wondering what have I done wrong? Why doesn’t she like me? How could she treat me this way? Some of the things she’s said to me over the last few weeks, or the way she has lied, deceived, and manipulated me without showing any signs of remorse? I couldn’t conceive acting this way. Or treating anyone that way! Let alone, my own mother.
So this is where I am. My child. Doesn’t like me. She can’t, with all this heartache she’s caused me. I broke down in tears in front of her the other day. TEARS. My pride typically won't let me reduce myself to such things in front of my children. My heart is broken. She’s 13, she turns 14 in June. No one told me having a teenager would be so painful. Would bring me so much pain. Do you know what they did tell me? There's no return policy. She's yours. And no refunds.
She’s A Real Person
Once that child leaves your womb, they become people. Not just your child. They become a real, live person. With their own emotions, own thoughts, own set of values, that may be separate from your own. Never has that been more evident to me, than the last couple of months. Over the last year or so. I’ve finally gotten to spend REAL time with my children. They aren’t just these individuals God charged me with paying for, feeding, and shuttling back and forth. They are people, who no matter how I feel about it, may not like me. It’s just something I have to reckon with.
Thanks for Listening