My daughter asks me the same question every single day.
“Why do you hate me?”
And every single day I give her the same answer. “I don’t hate you. I love you.”
To which she generally replies “No you don’t. You hate me.” and this goes on for a while.
This outburst is usually prompted by something truly evil that I do, like asking her to put on a pair of shoes or feed the cats.
“Why do you hate me so much? Why are you always mad at me?”
“I’m not mad at you. I just want you to wear underwear to school.”
“You have never loved me!”
“I have loved you since before you were even born. I love you and your brother more than anything on this earth and you know this. Now, go put on some underpants before the bus gets here or I will have to drive you to school again.”
She tells me I hate her when I am driving her to basketball practice and helping her clean her room. She asks why I hate her so much when I am cooking her dinner or packing her lunch or brushing her hair.
“You never act like you love me.”
My entire life revolves around these two children. We bought this house because it was in a good school district. I work from home so that I can be flexible in case one of them gets sick. We take them to piano lessons and Brownies and swimming and let their friends spend the night and I am six weeks behind on “Sons of Anarchy” because I know if they are still awake the violent content could mess them up and I don’t want to do any more damage.
We try to provide well balanced meals (torture) and let them choose which instrument they play (we bought her two drum kits. DRUM KITS! You know the band is going to practice at my house and they will probably play some Creed songs over and over and over just to drive me insane). We let them choose their own friends and their own clothes. We paid for her to have a blue streak put into her hair when she decided that blue hair was cool. I take her to Justice, which makes my eyes hurt, and buy her glittery shirts. I let them choose the colors we painted their rooms. I tell them I love them every single day, usually multiple times a day.
“You don’t love me. You never loved me. You love Ian and not me.”
And then I laughed right in her face. And then I apologized for laughing because it rang true, not because it is true but because if you substituted the word “Mike” for “Ian” I have said the exact same thing.
When I was in 7th grade I was convinced that my parents stayed up late at night trying to find ways to ruin my life. I was sure of it because they made me go visit my grandparents the same weekend as Michael Paul’s birthday party and all of the cool kids were going to be there and Jill and Dana got to go and I could have totally stayed at either of their houses for the weekend but my mom and dad wouldn’t let me BECAUSE THEY HATED ME.
Oh yes. They loved Mike more. They never loved me.
I keep waiting for her to say “I NEVER ASKED TO BE BORN!” That was my go-to line for years.
I now understand that my parents loved me the entire time. I know this because my mother came to the emergency room and maintained composure and held my six week old baby while they catheterized him and talked about giving him a spinal tap while I sobbed in the corner. I know this because as a mother myself I can retrospectively look back at all of the sacrifices my parents made for me. I know this because they tell me they love me, maybe not every day, but a lot of times.
I know because no matter how many crazy tantrums she throws, I adore my daughter even though I do make her eat broccoli sometimes.
Later today I will call my mom and apologize for what I put her through. I have done this periodically every few months ever since my kids were born. I have a feeling that these calls will become more frequent as my children approach their teens.
But I am still pretty sure that my parents stayed up plotting ways to ruin my life for most of 1986.