Each of my children, during their teenage angst years, once told me they hated me. There was a five year age gap between them. It was two separate occasions with years dividing the incidents. So it wasn’t as if I was bombarded. And each time I could see it approaching.
They didn’t mean it.
Though they were pretty vehement in their expression at the time, I knew better.
I knew they felt like they had no control.
I knew they felt like I had all of the control.
And I knew what to do. I was ready. Prepared. I had this one.
I had read a story, long before this point in my life, about a parent who’s child had constantly said “I hate you”. So when it was my turn, I borrowed from that wise parent.
When it happened I reacted with great calm.
When each child in their own time made their declaration of hate I looked at them with all of the adoration a mother can possibly possess and said:
That’s okay, I love you enough for the both of us.
I truly, absolutely and without any trace of cunning or deceit, meant it.
But I cannot deny that little feeling of glee as they rolled their eyes so far back in their heads, I swear in retrospect, I heard them pop!
It was one of my better parenting moments. I needed to have the courage to stand there and let them hate me. They needed to know they were safe in feeling whatever they felt at that one moment. And know that no matter how bad things may have gotten, I would not abandon them.
I think they’ve learned over the years that they have more control than they believed. And I didn’t have as much as I wanted them to believe.
I would like to believe that they remember that moment with me with glowing awe of their mother. Truthfully though, I’ll be happy that they just remember always, that I do love them enough.