When We Don't Like Our Own Children
I had the pleasure of meeting a most remarkable young woman a couple of years ago, I’ll call her Layla, and we are connected on Facebook. I enjoy reading her posts about her family and can often relate to her struggles to raise two kids. Last week, she posted an entry that was. . .
I cried as I read it because I saw myself in her words. I, too, had found myself in the very place she is now, but I dared not put my feelings into words. While I felt the same way, I’m not even sure that I truly was able to admit it to myself. I felt like a horrible person. I thought something bad was going to happen to me or my child because of the tricks my mind was playing on me. I struggled for over a year in silence before something inside me finally changed.
As an older mother, who had wanted children for years, I felt there was no excuse for the way I felt. Something must be wrong with me! I thought for sure that no decent mother could feel the way I did about her child.
So when I saw Layla’s post, I was overwhelmed with emotion. My heart poured out to her. She lives in another state, but I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her it will be OK. I wanted to sit and cry with her and let her know that I felt her pain.
I am happy to say that Layla’s post was met with an outpouring of love and support from her community. I know she is going to be alright because she has acknowledged how she feels and she is surrounded by people who will help her.
Layla is allowing me to share her post in the hopes that it helps others who may be going through the same thing. Know that you are not alone.
Layla is a Christian, but even if you do not share her religious beliefs, her words, as a mother, are universal.
And so, I leave you with Layla’s words -
“This is the face of a kid who I resented for the first 11 months of his life. I couldn't stand being in the same room with him.
I knew I wasn't bonding with him - emotionally bonding.
Trust me, the physical bonding was no problem. After all, he was nursing 50 minutes of every 60. And screaming for the other 10. There's really not much more physical touch you can get than that - on top of being screamed at, bitten and slapped every chance he had in those 10 minutes he wasn't nursing.
2 weeks before he turned 1, something changed. I still don't know if the change was in him, or in me, I'm pretty sure both. I think it was mostly him. Besides his addiction to food, he's nearly a different child than who I gave birth to.
Never mind that last sentence.
Some of his favorite hours are still 3 and 5am. He still goes from zero to passionate and determined in 0.001 seconds. He does not stop eating. My list of Things I Hate About Him was so many pages longer than my Things I Love About Him list.
Maybe part of the problem is that I've been trying to parent in my own strength.
I've tried to get him to be the kid I want him to be.
I haven't tapped into the endless source that is lavishly spread before me, in Jesus.
I know what PPD [Post Pardum Depression] is. What I dealt with between Toby and I was not that. It went even deeper than PPD.
There is a difference between loving and liking our kids. Of course, they are flesh of my flesh. I love my sons. But that other question is still there. I really like Jake. I adore him. I haven't liked Toby. I've been waiting for that connection. There must be something wrong with me, since I don't like him. And if I don't get on top of how I think and feel about him I'm for sure setting him up to deal with depression for his entire life.
I choose the lifestyle in which we raise our children because I want to have the most influence over them, right now. I want to help mold and shape the perspective of what is right and what is wrong. I want to give them a grounded foundation in Christ's love. I want to invest in their character, and pour into my boys as individuals. To nurture their strengths and gifts and remind them they are not perfect, they are not God and the reality of their broken humanity - but that through their whole repentance, surrender and the process of sanctification in Christ alone they are beloved children.
But now look at him. This is redemption. 9 days out from being 14 months. July, August, and September have been substantially better than the first 11 months. We still spend a lot of the days screaming at each other, but I am far more gracious with him.
Through my own journey of brokenness, I am living and breathing Grace.
My story isn't over. Neither is Toby's. And just like Jesus tells me who I am, I spend time embracing Toby and singing with him. I tell him words that are true about him. This is a hard, intentional work, but just like my heart needs to hear from my Savior, his heart does too.
I will do my part to be intentional with the time I have left with him. And, I've been liking him a lot more.”