It is necessary but not sufficient to love your child. Every now and then, you have to dislike him too.
Every now and then you have to look across the car or the kitchen or your bedroom and hear your own amazed voice saying to yourself, "I don’t
like him. I actually DO-NOT-LIKE him!"
Ah, reader, you might well be shaking your head right now. You might well be thinking just a tad smugly to yourself, "That’s never going to happen to me. It is not possible. I could never dislike something I love so much. Not me. Not this child. Not us."
You might be right. But I wouldn’t count on it if I were you.
Hey, even though it happened with both his brothers, even I never really believed it would happen with youngest. He’s my baby for God’s sake. Shouldn’t that give us some sort of Get-Out-of-Adolescent-Angst-Jail-Free card?
Uh, no. Lately, Youngest has been fighting with me about every…little…thing…it…seems…the…more…minute…the…better. And he does not stop. He does not let go. I’d call him a pit bull if that weren’t, in our house, a term of the highest endearment.
And I find myself wondering, as I drive or use the word fucking in our argument or slam the bedroom door, "When and how did this happen? What about all those years when I carried you on my hip, shielded your face from the wind, when I watched you sleep just to see the fan of your eyelashes against your cheek and pushed you, you, you on a swing? Who would ever imagine it possible to feel that all that love could be wiped clean by something as banal as not liking.
And Youngest, I’d feel really sorry about it if I didn’t know that you are just as surprised at not liking me as I am at not liking you.
And so we fight. And then I’ll go into your room before bed, and tousle your hair, and lean down and give it a kiss and inhale the thirteen-year-old musk and say, "Hey thirteen, I don’t like it when we fight."
And you, thirteen, you say to me, "It’s like rowing, Mom. You take a stroke and let it go."
And then, just like that, I fall in like again.