I love my children, dearly. When I watch them sleeping in their beds, hair mussed up, chests rising and falling, they look like little angels and I can't believe how lucky I am.
Yet most days, particularly most mornings, I don't like one of my children. That's a terrible thing to say. But it's the truth.
My eldest child has been difficult from the day he was born. A baby who didn't stop crying and wouldn't sleep. A toddler who had tantrums worthy of oscars. A pre-schooler who wouldn't join in and would cling incessantly. A school starter who would cry everyday at school drop off, run out of school and throw monstrous tantrums. He's never managed to control his emotions - happy or upset. All of these stages I have found incredibly hard work and sometimes downright bewildering, but I have learned and accepted that he is a sensitive child who takes a while to adapt to things. I've tried to provide the right balance of firmness with understanding and love.
But now he's six and a half. And we're in a whole new world. I take heart talking to other parents that their children are similarly behaved, but what I find most upsetting is how I feel about him.
His moods are relentless. He screams, yells, throws things about, is aggressive, rude, hits, kicks, spits, breaks things and is bone bloody idol. He will do nothing to help himself - unless there is something in it for him. He takes responsibility for nothing. He won't share. Yet he demands that things are shared with him. He never seems to learn from any discipline or punishment or consequence or reward. He refuses to listen if you try to have a reasonable conversation with him, simply covering his ears saying: Blah blah blah. We go through the exact same things over and over and over. He believes the world is out to get him. Mostly he seems unhappy and very, very angry.
I know that as a parent it is my job to help him work through this. To teach him social niceties and how to behave. To help him find out how he fits into the world and how to make the most of his abilities. To help him be happy. But parents are human. And even though I love him, I am finding it particularly hard to like him. And this makes it so much harder to remain the calm, loving, firm parent I want to be.
There are moments when his lovely nature shines through and when it does, I want to grab onto it and hold a mirror up to him and say: 'See, this is what you can be. It's gorgeous and lovely and wonderful!' But it's like holding water in your hands and it slips away all to fast.
I desperately want him to be happy. I want him to know I love him. But mostly I want to like him more often. I fear that the more he behaves in this way, the harder it will be for me to separate him from his actions. That I will start to resent him and in turn he will resent me, and our relationship remains one of me-against-him and him-against-me for a lifetime.
I am fairly certain that my own parents felt the same way about me, as by all accounts I was a particularly vile child. So perhaps it's simply karma that I should have the same experience. Retribution so to speak. But perhaps it's because I know how I felt as a child that I want to help my own son so much. I wished with all my heart that I didn't behave like I did as a child. I remember sulking and fighting with my siblings and wishing that I wasn't, but some how being unable to stop myself. I am almost certain that my son feels the same way. But how do you help a child out of that cycle? Particularly when his behaviour is so maddening that you're hard pressed to remain civil much less find a solution.
Perhaps I am wrong to even write this post. A grossly inappropriate thing to admit. But I just so badly want to like my son. I can't believe I am the only parent who feels like this. And perhaps by just writing it, it's the cathartic release I need to be able to put my feelings behind me and move forward to help my son. Here's hoping so anyway.