She loves me, she loves me not. This is how I feel about my daughter right now. For the past few weeks, she’s wanted only Daddy to take her to bed, Daddy to go make sure she brushes her teeth enough, Daddy to get her changed, and Daddy to do everything. For a while, I loved this. At that point of the night, neither of us want to take our daughter to bed and put up with her stalling techniques. Both my husband and I are exhausted at this time of day and by bedtime, we’ve put up with three hours of her whining and tantrums because she hasn’t napped. She gets mad because she’s not allowed to watch tv before dinner, she doesn’t like the food that we have made for dinner, she doesn’t want to wash her hands or go potty, and the list goes on and on. So when she wants her Daddy to take her to bed EVERY night, part of me jumps for joy. Part of me honestly does feel bad for my husband. Part of me misses picking my little girl up, having her wrap her arms around my neck and lay her head on my shoulder as I get an extended hug while taking her up to her room.
Then there are the things that she says that I really wonder if she secretly hates me. Or not so secretly. She told me the other day that I couldn’t hold her because she was angry at me for going to work that day. She had been home sick with Daddy and she looked me straight in the eye and told me this in a quiet voice like she almost didn’t want to say it. Oh, the guilt trip that started.
There is nothing like working mom guilt. I have working mom guilt in a lot of ways. My commute is so long that I am normally unable to help with daycare drop off and pickups. My husband is great and doesn’t seem to mind the responsibility of taking our tantrum-throwing daughter to and from daycare every day. He doesn’t complain and he tries to reassure me that it’s not a problem for him. But I know how stressful and exhausting it can be and I know that I like going and being able to talk to the teacher.
Even though he tries to keep me from feeling it, I still feel guilt that this is a part of my daughters’ life where I am not able to participate on a regular basis. I try to stay home long enough to see her before I leave to work, but even that is not always possible when we know she needs her sleep and I shouldn’t wake her up.
I work in an environment where 10 hour days are normal and with the long commute, I just don’t want to be at work that long so that I can make dinner for my family. So, I feel bad that I’m not working as long of hours as the others. I want to work and to have a career but I don’t want to sacrifice my family for it.
A couple hours later on the day where she told me she was angry at me for going to work, I was putting her to bed. Her tantrums were so bad, my husband came in to see if he could calm her down (he was the favorite after all). Rolling around on the floor in the midst of a fit, she looked up at me and said “Mommy, I don’t like you. Nobody likes you.” She’s three and a half and shooting daggers through my heart already. I felt like I was back in elementary school having a kid in the hallway who told me that no one liked me.
I’m chalking it up to the fever that she had the day before and the fact that she was stuck at home sick all day. Most of the rest of the tantrums she threw that night were just so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh at her. Which, admittedly, makes things worse. I’m not even going to try to figure out how she was able to form a thought about her being angry because I went to work. I didn’t even know she knew the word “angry.”
When telling this story to friends with girls, they all say that it’s something to do with girls. Their boys never say this kind of thing to them. So this week, I’m picking myself up and saying the nonsense tantrums and hurtful things she has said to me were because she was sick, not napping, and being three. I’m also going to start growing that thicker skin that I thought I had years to grow before my pre-teen starting hating me. I guess I need it at age 3! She loves me, she loves me not.