Friday, 6 March 2015

ON MY MIND | When your child says "I don't love you Mummy"



I take being a mum very seriously. I just want to be a good mother.

My relationship with my 10 year old has always been challenging. I blame myself for not being a "better mother" when he was a toddler. Granted I was dealing with my own health issues at the time, I still feel like I could have done more. Played with him more. Watched him more. Talked to him more. Read to him more. Argh! More available. More present.

When he was approaching 3 years old, I was pregnant with our second child and the shortfalls in our relationship started to show. But he's only 3 I hear you say! 

As a 30-year old woman, I behaved like a child who's heart had been crushed when her best friend tells her she has a new best friend.

My 3 year old did not mince his words when he said to me "I don't love you mummy. I love Daddy". It was always "No! I want Daddy, not you Mummy!" 

I was heartbroken. Defeated. Hurt. Did I mention heartbroken?

It took me a while to put my childish reactions aside and realise that I was looking at the definition of love from an adult's perspective, which is very different from my 3 year old's definition of love. 

To a 3 year old, love is having fun! And Daddy is FUN! He did all the cool fun stuff like bike riding, playing soccer, flying him around like Superman, playing cars, building train tracks, bush walks...FUN boy stuff.

My parents separated when I was 5 years old. I don't have a relationship with my father so I can honestly say, I love my mum more. I have grown up not being able to understand how a child can love both parents equally. 

I had an epiphany one evening during a conversation with my husband about his relationship with his parents. At first I could not get my head around how you could love both parents the same. It was not something I had ever experienced. Sounds strange doesn't it?

As we talked it finally clicked and I realised the way my husband loves his parents was the way I loved my Grandparents. I loved them both equally but I loved them both differently, each for who they were. I connected with Grandma differently from my Grandfather, but the love was the same. 

Fast forward to today, and my relationship with my eldest child is still hard work. As I said at the beginning, I take my role as a mother very seriously. This means I am always reassessing how I handle situations, especially ones with the boys, and I look at whether I need to do anything differently, or better next time. 

My son is stubborn. He is reserved and withdrawn. He won't laugh at my bad mum jokes. He challenges what I say. And he pushes my patience to the max. But he has a kind heart, and he wants to know he is loved and to be heard.

Last year, I decided it was time to work on actively building a stronger relationship and connection with my son. It had been easier to let it go and pretend everything was okay. 

It is interesting how when you are ready and open to make a change, the universe will provide you with the resources to guide you in the right direction.

My boss gave me a parenting booklet from Hand in Hand to read. It goes into the importance of dedicated one-on-one time with each child and letting them guide the play/activity and conversation. This tells your child you are there just for them. I also started to come across a lot of blog posts about how LISTENING to your child is vital to better behaviour and improving parent-child relationships. 

It seems obvious now, but I was consumed by my list of to-do's that I started to confused my priorities. To build a stronger relationship with Mr 10, I needed to listen with love. Listen with an open heart. I need to listen to him, and not just hear him. 

I feel like I'm putting myself out there as a bad mother by even admitting to that.

We had a great conversation last night when I was saying goodnight to him at bedtime. He opened up about how he held back from telling me things because he thought I wouldn't be interested. I told him that I want to know EVERYTHING about his day because I miss out on 6 hours of his day when he is at school! I want details. 

I could see his eyes soften, and the tone in his voice said he was ready to share. I listened as he told me this crazy story about school which had us both in hysterics. It's been a while since we laughed together like that. I want to create more of these moments with him. 

7 comments:

  1. This is just beautiful Sue! I love how your post ended in laughter - I love to laugh! It's so therapeutic!
    Thank you for sharing your heart xx

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    1. Thanks Anna for stopping by. I love to laugh too, and I have read somewhere that adults laugh way way less than children do in a single day. Absolutely agree with you about it being therapeutic xx

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  2. Wow, what a beautiful revelation. Mr 10 is lucky to have you.

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    1. Thanks Aimee! It really was an amazing realisation. All these years I thought that my boy loved his Dad more but now realise he must just loves us differently. Thank you for saying he's lucky to have me...but I feel like the lucky one to have them xx

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  3. Sue I think this is an amazing blog post, it's raw and from the heart and I can relate so much to what you've said. One day we will get together and talk over a cuppa, one day. What you are doing now is taking steps in the right direction. You are amazing and you have two gorgeous little guys.

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  4. This is my first visit to your blog Sue and I will be coming back for sure. I love what you've written, so honest and true. I relate to so much of what you say here and it takes guts to put it out there like you did. Mamahood is the toughest job around but it is also the most rewarding one too, especially in moments of softened eyes and hysterics. I think you are amazing.

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  5. Yikes! Well, I followed the link from your other post and ended up here.
    I tell you what Sue, if your a bad Mum, then me too!! I strongly believe that at every minute of every day we all do the best with what we have got to offer. Be that love, affection, ordering, listening or any of the other million tasks we as Mumma's take on. As much as this is about being present with your little people make sure you remember you too cause without us they would be lost. I love this post also and thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post. Oh, and as a side note, I too find it difficult to comprehend loving 2 parents equally, mine split when I was 2.... But I hope that our boys love us equally for who we each are xx

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