Middle told me this morning that she doesn’t love me very much.  “I don’t love you very much”, she stated plainly.  Then she added “I half love you and half don’t love you.”  When I asked what made her say that, she said she didn’t know “That’s just how I feel.” I emailed Husband about it and his response was that “She is four years old.  She is transgender.  She is confused.”  All true, but comments like that hurt nonetheless.

After being a parent for nearly seven years I am quite used angry pronouncements of  “You’re the meanest mom ever!” said in a post-consequence moment.  Those comments don’t bother me; they never have.  We all feel supremely angry at someone at times and I completely understand why a child would be mad at me for taking away something they cared about due to inappropriate behavior.  I don’t for a second think that my kids being angry with me means that they don’t love me or don’t know that I love them.  But Middle’s comments today were completely out of the blue.  We were having a lazy, relaxing morning, talking about Christmas.  I didn’t really end up responding to her; I didn’t know how.  I just said OK and moved on with our plans to finish getting dressed and go play outside.  I am hurt though and worried about how best to take care of this challenging, sensitive child.  I feel like nothing I do will ever, ever be enough for her.


3 thoughts on “Ouch

  1. I would tell her it hurt my feelings! That’s instructive, to realize that’s a hurtful thing to say, even if she does feel it’s true in the moment. I’d keep it short and simple, no extra guilt stuff, not particular emotion in my voice, just let her know and move on.

    That’s the rub of parenting, isn’t it – nothing we do WILL ever be enough. We just regroup and keep trying for almost enough. Sorry it was a particularly rough day!

  2. E has been acting like a complete brat lately. One day, out of the blue she tells me “I love you mama.” I said, “hey that’s nice to hear because I wasn’t sure lately if you did…” She thinks for a second and replies, “yeah, I guess I don’t know either…” Who knows what she meant by that but I decided not to read too much into it.

    Long ago, when she was almost still an infant, I realized that nothing I can do would ever be enough for her according to my definition of “enough” because our definitions at that time were incompatible. I realized that in being a mom to her, I was trying to be “enough of a mom” like my mom tried to be for me. But I was just repeating the same pattern of “over mothering” that had been inflicted upon me. I really resent aspects of my mom’s relationship with me as I was growing up, the way she projected her difficult relationship with her own mother onto our relationship, determined to be the mother she had always wished she had. Her effort as a mom probably never seemed like “enough” in her eyes, but to me, it was sufficient to get me to the place I’m at in life so that’s that. Show me an adult without emotional baggage from childhood – they don’t exist. So as I saw myself repeating some of these things with E, at least in what I imagined my own mom’s mindset to me, I decided to break this pattern and just parent her the best I could, without any expectation that it was “enough” for her. I see my job almost like a driving instructor with her in the driver’s seat – I just provide some guidance here and there, guiding her toward safe places to grow and mature, and when things are really going to hit the skids, I slam on my instructor brake or grab the wheel. But the rest including all the little mistakes along the way, are up to her. And I think that in some way, wanting or needing that kind of ownership over her life is something she has always been semi-aware of on some level.

    (Another thing I might add, is that I think this ambivalence among daughters toward their mothers is really more common than not. Perhaps they pick up on subtle messages that we communicate about our expectations for them as females and as our daughters much earlier and more clearly than we think or are even aware of? It might be something that you are not used to experiencing with your oldest kiddo and is something new that she is picking up on as she develops this side of her gender. It’s a cliche right? The conflict between mothers and daughters, especially the oldest daughter? My sister has a totally different take on our mom. So though you def have the extra variable of the transgender thing, maybe take heart that this is more normal than not…?)

    • You are so mature in your thinking with respect to your mom! I don’t think I have over or under parented Older, but, you are right in that Middle and I have a very different dynamic – have since the beginning actually. I think, even at not even five years old, we have a lot of baggage in our way to work through; her gender and name change, her shift to being the oldest daughter in the family, her tendency towards anxiety and depression, my bouts with depression. I think I will also tend to “over” parent Middle because she is so much more sensitive and vulnerable seeming than her siblings and then there is her safety (with respect to being trans) that we have to worry about.

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