It starts out like a normal morning. I am dragging my arms like a caveperson until I get that first hit of caffeine. (Thank you, Juan Valdez.) My three girls are clamoring for to get them cereal and to make them a mocha. (Part milk, part hot cocoa mix, and a very very small part coffee. I think they just want to be like mom, which is nice sometimes.) I remind my oldest daughter that she needs to go get dressed for school. "What should I wear, Mom?" "Well, it froze last night. So it is pretty cold. Probably better wear some jeans." She trudges upstairs, visibly upset that the warm weather is most likely officially over.
I perform my early morning chores. Get the kids breakfast, get their toothbrushes ready, make Addy's lunch for school, etc. Here comes the school girl down the stairs in capris and a t-shirt. Oh Christ-in-a-sidecar. "Addy, I told you that you need to wear jeans today. It is cold out." "No, it's not." "Yeah, your dad and I have the heat on for no reason. Go put on jeans. You can wear the Mickey t-shirt, but you need to take a sweater with you." She stomps upstairs grumpily. I start making plans to pack away all her shorts until Spring. (Just so I won't have to have this fight every morning. Self-preservation is a wonderful thing.)
The morning progresses a little more smoothly until we are getting ready to head out the door for school. I see my daughter trying to sneak her coat on. She is not wearing a sweater. "Addy, I told you that you need a sweater." "I don't want a sweater. I will be hot." "I would rather you be hot than cold. Just grab one. Just in case." "No." At this point, I am massaging my forehead. (As if that can help with the six-year-old size migraine I have brewing.) "Addy, we are not leaving this house until you have a sweater on. So just toodle yourself up those stairs and get one or you will be late for school." (AGAIN)
And then the tears start. It might be a shortcoming of mine, but I have never had much patience for tears. (I guess I cried a lot as a child, and my Grandpa was always saying, "Oh quit your bawling". Eventually, I did.) I got to the point where I realized a few things. One: emotion is okay. Two: Crying makes your nose run and gives you a headache. Three: Crying really doesn't get you any where in life (and is therefore a waste of time). "Addy, you crying is not going to make me forget that you need a sweater." "I hate you, Mommy!"
She hurled the words at me like bullets. I swear I could feel each one impact my body. Having your child say those words to you hurts (and yes can even make me want to cry). My typical response is: "Well, that's too bad because I still love you." This response (while reassuring my kids that mom will always love them) usually doesn't help the situation. So today I respond with: "Well, ok. But you still have to wear a sweater." We finally make it out the door (with a sweater, HUZZAH!).
On the drive to school, I am still smarting from her little outburst of anti-mom attitude when I hear a small voice from the backseat. "Mom?" (I take a deep breath before answering.) "Yes, Addy?" "I don't hate you. I love you to the moon and back. Do you still love me?" "Adelyn, I will always, Always, ALWAYS love you. Ok?" "Ok." When I open her door and help her out of the car, she grabs on to me and gives me a bear hug. "I love you, Mom." "I love you, Addy. Have a good day." As I watch her run into the school, all is right in my world again.
I am guessing that these spontaneous explosions of emotion from my kids are Nature's way of preparing me for when they are teenagers and they really do hate me (or at least think they do). Or maybe they are just testing the limits of your love for them. The truth is that while a mother's (or father's) love is unconditional sometimes your child's love for you is not. Actively disliking your parents is part of growing up. You just have to keep your chin up. They will love you again or still (eventually).