Preteen Angst

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.

See? Blue.

“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.


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  1. I’m sure you’ll get some nice phone calls by the time your daughter is 30. (And the blue looks good!)

  2. smart aleck says:

    Throw her off guard by asking her what you do for Ian that you don’t do for her–does he get to go to school without underwear or shoes? If she wants to make sweeping statements, she has to back it up with cold hard evidence. Maybe she secretly hates Justice and wants you to step up and forbid her from shopping there–after all, you don’t let Ian wear clothes from there!
    You could end up with a lawyer on your hands–haha.

    You could also confuse her by telling her that she is the favorite but you don’t want Ian to catch on….so you discipline her more :-)

    But yes, I am grateful every day that my parents had patience with me and loved me. And I know that they really did and still do. One day she will realize just how great they have it, especially when she hears stories about other people’s harsh/unhappy upbringings.

  3. Why is Justice so expensive? Even with the 40% off constant sale..still really expensive. So cute..and yet – why do they insist on also selling trinkets and stuffed animals that my 10yo CANNOT live without. It’s hard for me to go in there and even harder to get out. I applaud you. I also love the blue (having added some pink to my own hair recently) and I’m glad to see the moodiness isn’t just my kid :)

  4. Oh, geez. The look on her face in that photo. I just saw that EXACT expression on my daughter on this morning. Why? Because I made her brush her teeth before going to school.

  5. I remember thinking my life would be SO MUCH BETTER without my parents. I mean, all the did is bug bug bug me about stuff!

  6. I remember thinking my life would be SO MUCH BETTER without my parents. I mean, all they did is bug bug bug me about stuff!

  7. Welcome to my world. And wait until the hormones really kick in. :(

  8. Everything I do is a plot to torture my eleven-year old. It’s why I had her. :)

  9. :(

    i know i have this to look forward to, soon, but can i offer you a hug right now?

  10. Well, yeah, 1986 was a fucked up year.

    Have you asked her what she wants from you to prove you love her? I’m sure you have. That’s always a fun conversation. I had a similar talk with my oldest. ugh. several conversations.

  11. um, yes. I got a “You may think you’re a good mother, but you’re just deluding yourself,” the other day from my slightly older daughter, so pace yourself…the attacks get even more sophisticated (as you probably remember.) I tell myself over and over that as long as they are good people out in the world and trust me enough to unload on me at home, I am probably doing something right and we’ll emerge intact. But @Adrianne, I am memorizing that line and using it from now on…

  12. Great post! My daughter is only 5, but she is a bit of a diva, and what can I say, she reminds me of me when I was young. I wish I could call my mom as you do every few bonths and bow down. Unfortunately, my mom passed away almost four years ago, so I just have to think the thoughts and hope she can feel my thanks.

  13. It almost looks like she is shooting a laser beam from her eye.

  14. THIS! Fully and completely. Also…I’m sending this post to Jill, because it’s exactly this at her house too. Ha.

  15. I just want to keep mine 3 and 5 forever.

  16. May be she did not feel the love that you give to your daughter so that she always ask the same question on you.. just show her the love as a mother give time to your daughter so that she can feel that she is important to you. may be she need the attention so that she acting like that.

    Your daughter need the support and love that you can give to her. Be a mother to her..

    • smart aleck says:

      So not a lawyer…just saying.
      More like advice from a fortune cookie that was chugging Drano before typing a response.

  17. I’ve come back and read this several times and I’m finally commenting. 1) This is one of your best posts about being a mom that I’ve ever read. 2) Aah, the pre-teen years. They come back to haunt us, don’t they? 3) Yes, our parents were/are saints. Seriously. 4) Uh, kid? A mom that hates you and is plotting ways to destroy your life does not PAY to get blue streaks in your hair. Just sayin’.

  18. Hello, may be I don’t know very much things, but I think, that you should discuss this with your daugther. How old is she? I think that child convinced that you must love she and do all that she want. But children never think that parents want see their child healthy and happy and if child will do all that want it can end badly. In your country many laws, it said that parents much do all that child want (I read about it very much).
    For example my mother didn’t allow me to dye my hair (and if I say that in blue she said that I stupid). Your daugther must understand you want see she healthy and happy/ and happiness – it’s not blue hair, alcohol, big party and each more thingh. astoundingly that child, who have bad parents love they. Your daughter see her friends who doing all that they want and think that it cool. let her know that she should be grateful to you for all.
    I have 16 years old and I never say that my mother hate me. I djo’t understand how can say such things…
    P.S. Sorry for my mistakes. My English isn’t good.

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