The other day I was sitting with my middle daughter, Hannah, and watching some mindless kid show. I was snuggling with her after a particularly good day. I asked her, “do you know how much I love you?”
“But what about when I am being bad?” She asked.
It was an honest question. Hannah has a variety of challenging behaviours. With a suspected ADD and SPD diagnosis, Hannah is one of the sweetest kids in the world, but also one of the most challenging. She gets overwhelmed with change and transitions. She doesn’t like crowded social settings and doesn’t have a filter. Hannah has hit me, told me she hates me and threatened to leave to find a ‘better mom’ several times. I spend a lot of time talking to Hannah’s teachers, school and behaviour workers. The time I am not spending talking about Hannah, I am writing about Hannah and worrying about Hannah.
The job of a parent is not one that comes with any guarantees. A positive pregnancy isn’t a promise of anything.
So when Hannah asked me about loving her when she is ‘bad’, my answer was automatic, just as my feelings for her are.
“I like the salty as much as the sweet.” I assured her. After all, she has to endure my not so perfect moments as a mother. Despite more than six years experience, I still mess up on a daily basis. From being too reactionary, losing my cool, offering too much television, too little teachable moments. I know I fall far from perfection in my role as a parent, so why should I expect perfection from my kids?
Some of my favourite stories about my kids revolve around Hannah’s antics. She has smeared poop, smacked my husband in the middle of a theme park and refused to kiss any relatives at holiday parties. She is honest in her actions. You always know where you stand with her. She will tell you she loves you with pure conviction. It is with the same conviction she will scream that she hates you. Often in public.
When it comes to kids, we certainly didn’t get a boring one. She keeps me on my toes, inspires much of my writing and makes me a better person. I wouldn’t be the mom I strive to be without her challenging moments. She has taught me patience, acceptance and how much you can truly love and at the same time be completely frustrated with a person.
She is the star of most of my favourite stories. A sweet spot in our family.
And a little bit salty too.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.