Friday, August 25
Writing from the heart
There is a place deep within that no mother wants to admit to herself, let alone to anyone else. It's a shameful place, shrouded in secrecy, or perhaps more accurately, denial. It's a place she tries to talk herself out of, and everyday she vows never to return. But, return she does, and she is rightly concerned about what her husband and friends might think if they knew, so she remains confused and isolated and conflicted, believing that she is The Only One who "knows" this painful, heart-breaking, unspeakable truth:

She does not like one of her children.

As those words begin to settle, there's a soul chill in the air. With her own finger of accusation and expression of disgust, she doesn't have to hear it from anyone other than herself--"How could any good mother feel that way?". Over and over in her mind she is tried and convicted by a jury of her peers, the real "good mothers", who knowingly find fault with her for missing something, for withholding from her son what he obviously needs, for ranking her children in order of affection.

And she tries. She really tries. In the still and quiet of the next day, she confesses her weakness and imagined unforgiveable sin before God, pleading for wisdom and strength. Patience and kindness. Mercy and grace. And a change in the foot-stomping, jaw jutting defiance that began from the time he could walk at ten months, her only thought that the "terrific twos" so many gushingly speak of is little more than five years of "terrible" for her.

But, try she does and so embraces the attitude of "today is a new day", beginning his morning with cheek and belly kisses and cheerful encouragement and warm mother love, hoping that this day WILL be the turning point. Emotions follow behavior, right? If she acts like she likes him, than the accompanying feelings will come, if only she's consistent. And she's well on her way until the first challenge...and then the second...and then the third. Of course, all the while, the other children, although not without their own occasional challenge, are so easy to like. They're agreeable and obedient and trainable and responsive.

He reserves his best worst behavior for her alone; Daddy sees some of it, but for the most part, he's at work during waking hours, and the few between arrival and bedtime are divided among three, so somehow it remains hidden. Others might see glimpses, but for the most part they enjoy this lively personality. He's respectful and obedient to others, well rounded and a friend to many. His face is one of a thousand expressions, he can coax a laugh at will, and there are moments of delight. Those are her moments of hope that all will take a turn for the better...soon.

But "soon" is not a matter of days...or weeks...or months...but years. Years! But can you hear it? Something happened.

Obviously, this is autobiographical. I can write it because I lived it. For years. The guilt, the frustration, the denial, the shame, the sense of failure. There is such a difference between mother love and liking a child, and anyone who has walked this road knows exactly what I'm talking about. I would have given my life for my son, I was thankful for him, but I wondered if this viscious cycle would ever end. Thank goodness--thank God--I have amazing in-laws. It was my father-in-law whom the Lord saw fit to speak a word of truth to me, that at first infuriated me, and then proved to be transforming.

One day as I was expressing frustration over something new my son was doing to exasperate me, Grandy said with a wink and a grin, "Maybe this is about you. Maybe God is trying to teach YOU something!" I wanted to kill him, right then, right there. This most certainly was NOT about me and I didn't need to learn anything right then, thank-you-very-much! I needed sympathy, empathy, HELP! Three young children born within five years of each other, a husband and marriage I wanted and needed to nurture, a part time job and a busy "life" left me dangling often at the end of an unknotted rope--with freshly-lotioned palms, grasping but never secure.

As my fury faded, and trusting my father-in-law to know more than me, I began to look Godward with a different heart. Perhaps this was the first time I began asking God if He didn't intend to change my circumstances, to change me through my circumstances. If He was going to continue allowing "something" in my life that drove me to tears, that He would use it for my good, His glory, and somehow the advance of His kingdom. Even something as unspeakable and ugly, despicable and foreign as these frightening emotions from mother to child.

It didn't happen overnight; honestly, I don't even remember when things shifted. But slowly it dawned on me that this child had been MY teacher, that I was to be a student of him, to learn how to mother him in a way that shaped his best interests. He taught me that God wasn't above using anyone and any circumstance to drive me to a dependency on Him, to humble me, to affect change needed in my life.

Today, this child is the most like me, and it is not our similarities that derail me, it's our differences. Perhaps it's as simple as this "personality" on testosterone versus estrogen. But I like him. A lot. And I am thankful (and praise God) that we are on "this" side of "that".

Although it doesn't fit precisely here, a section of scripture that comes to mind right now is in Matthew as Jesus was teaching his disciples and others (beginning at chapter 5:43 through 48). Emphasis is mine, indicated in bold print:

"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." ~ The Message

I guess God needed to grow me up.

If you're visiting from a Jenny's "Naked & Free" post, I'd love to hear your thoughts, too. And thanks for letting me "get naked" with you....

  Into the pensieve on Friday, August 25, 2006
  Your thoughts, please (36)

At August 25, 2006, Blogger Pamela said...

I don't think it is uncommon to love your kids, and at times not like them.

I read Dear Abby yesterday (hardly ever do) and a woman wrote in who hated her baby.

I felt so sad.

At August 25, 2006, Blogger ~michelle pendergrass said...

Oh Robin. ((((HUGS))))

What a heartbreaking first. But then God's grace breaks through. Wow!

At August 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing, & utterly courageous and empowering for you to write. (p.s. I snooped and stumbled onto your blog...i'm an uninvited stranger...!).

Here is something to think about. Maybe it's wayyyy out there for you, & i totally understand if it is. There are many who believe that our time on earth is an "education", something we plan up in "heaven" or "somewhere else non-physical" before we are born - where we choose our parents, our life lessons, our appearance, our friends, and also we make a lot of soul-level contracts - as an example, with our future children. Since the cosmos are always a work in process, there are often 'changes in plans'... perhaps that child with whom you don't have a connection was one with which you didn't have a soul-level contact to begin with.. he slipped in uninvited... but with your strength of spirit & desire to love, you used the experience as a fabulous and admirable growing tool, and bravo to you!

Ok so if you just read that & went "HUH??", then delete delete delete!! But I felt moved to comment..

Best wishes !

At August 25, 2006, Blogger willowtree said...

Well you know I'm not going to comment on a post that has scripture in it!

Except to say that no-one liked my eldest brother (including my mother) but everyone loved him (except me).

At August 25, 2006, Blogger Jana said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been dealing with my third son and not liking him very much for a while now. He's only 4, but he just drives me nuts. I feel so guilty, and I'm really trying to work on it, but it's hard. I appreciate your courage in sharing this and letting me know I'm not the only one.

At August 25, 2006, Blogger Karmyn R said...

Wow, Robin. A very moving post!!

I think every family has someone that they struggle with. (My middle sister - the nonblogger one - for instance. I doubt my mom will ever post anything for fear my sis may read it.) BUT - I like how you looked at the situation. Everyone should benefit form your father-in-laws advice!!

Oh - and yes, major blogger problems the past couple of days - my comments being left off - not recognizing my correct W.V.'s. I haven't looked to see if I'm missing comments. Yikes!!!

At August 26, 2006, Blogger Pamela said...

I read an article today at work about "our children are our saviors"...............

How parents don't grow their children into adults...
but that children grow their parents into adults.

So.... breath easy kid. Your're doin' just fine!

At August 26, 2006, Blogger Susannah said...

Wow! What a great piece of writing! Refine and publish this, my friend. I just finished reading Dobson's book Bringing Up Boys. It's excellent. Have you read it?

My son is a peach, and a schmoozer like his Dad... maybe a "t" not a "T" in the testosterone dept. :-)

At August 26, 2006, Blogger Robin said...

Good morning mates :),

After I hit "publish" on this one, I did have second thoughts about such a public forum. My primary concern is for my son; I would never, ever want to hurt him, words mean as much to him as they do to me. I'm sure he won't read it, it's one of the "long" ones and wouldn't appeal to him (lol).

I couldn't have written it "then", in the midst of it all--much too painful to me, too defeating, it's hard enough now. That being said, there have been a few instances IRL where I have sensed similar defeat from moms struggling through parenting their own child(ren). As I've shared my story with them, this moment of "kindred" brought forth tears and FREEDOM. No one ever shared this kind of thing with me, and somehow to know others have felt the same is liberating. It spoke hope into their lives; it seemed worthy of telling here for that same reason. If sharing this encourages or brings hope to a single person, it is more than worth this "unveiling" of self, ya know?

The blogosphere is a strange world, indeed, at times. How we can make ourselves vulnerable (make Willowtree proud, pronounce the "l") in front of virtual strangers--who've become virtual friends--is an interesting phenomena.

Ok, that coulda been some kind of post, now on to your comments.

Jana & Susan (for your friend), sometimes these feelings are in passing, for others (like me), it was more than a brief season (as I said, years). Jana (and Susan's friend), there are more moms out there struggling with this than we can imagine, I suppose. The key is few can admit it to themselves, let alone seek help. We often try to do it solely, perhaps delving into God's word for "answers", but often we find little to help. Somehow speaking it, bringing the "darkness" into the "light", is an empowering moment, the first step to breaking this monster's hold.

Pamela, Michelle & Karmyn, thanks, girlie-Qs, I'm feeling the love and encouragement. {{HUGS}} to you and you and you :).

Anonymous, welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere and thanks for your thoughts. Yeah, I think they're out there but I loved hearing from you and hope you return (next time, with a real name, anonymous has too many letters) ;).

Willowtree, actually, I was surprised you posted here, you rarely do on my "kid" posts, but I always appreciate when you do anytime. There's more to your few words here, probably worthy of a OUAB post sometime. What would you have said without my Jesus-speak :) ? encourage my socks off! What to do? What to do? I DO think it's a story worth re-telling, for those who NEED to know they. are. not. alone....

At August 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Robin....I've struggled to like my teenage son since he hit the "attitude" phase of life. I find myself relieved when he goes on a weekend trip or to a friends house. I have felt horrible could I feel this way about such a precious gift??? Thanks for your honesty...I needed to know I'm not alone.

At August 26, 2006, Blogger Robin said...

Anon...We haven't gotten "there" with ours yet. There's a part of me that fears it, for the reasons you've expressed. For me, what if "it" comes back. I can't help but go back to scripture when those old feelings creep in, 2 Timothy 1:7--"...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." If you're a believer or seeker, perhaps that's a good reminder.

Regardless, though, I think admitting it is helpful (it was for me). To myself, to God, eventually to those closest to me. Having people in your life who can "handle" this without you having fear of judgment or condemnation is crucial. I'm smiling as I write this, but even here, on a blog :)'re safe here.

I'm praying for those of you in "this place"....and thanks for letting me know you're there.

At August 26, 2006, Blogger Debs said...

I am sitting here crying now. This is so touching :) thanks for sharing.

At August 27, 2006, Blogger Catez said...

I just came over from the BC Carnival. I don't know you but I just wanted to say I respect the honesty in your post.

At August 27, 2006, Blogger Kelly Curtis said...

In tears.

There's hope.

At August 27, 2006, Blogger Cathy said...

Robin: Another powerful post. I am watching a friend go through this with one of her sons.

At August 27, 2006, Blogger Carrie said...

Such touching honesty! I think are many mothers that struggle with this - getting the "secret" out there may help many. Great post.

At August 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! I am not a Christian but I can relate to many things that you said. I adopted a little girl from foster care last year. She has oppositional defiant disorder so sometimes I just want to lock myself in a room. She saves the worst for me too! But I do love her and I know that it is ok not to like her all the time. I just have to never let my feelings affect how I treat her. And hope the defiance clears up some! :)

At August 28, 2006, Blogger Yvonne said...

Wow - you hit it with this. I'm having MAJOR struggles with my 20 year old daughter. I have said many many times over the past 8 years or so that I love my daughter, but I do not like her. That has not changed much - but maybe I am the one that needs to change. She is my only daughter (I have 3 sons) and I feel like a total failure where she is concerned. I'm going to read the post and all the comments again, and figure out where to go from here with this. Thank you for the honesty - at least I don't feel like I'm the only one.

At August 28, 2006, Blogger Mary said...

I can't imagine how hard it was to type that out, to open your soul for anyone to see. My heart actually leapt into my throat as I read your confession. You truly are brave and wonderfully made. God bless you for sharing this for others to learn by, too.

I had these feelings for my first born, and have never told a soul. I really struggled with it, until one day i realized I couldn't do it on my own. (DUH!, LOL!)It's amazing, God's grace, isn't it? If only we allow the grace to come, then we can give grace as well.

I am here from the BC carnival, wonderful post!

At August 28, 2006, Blogger Shalee said...

What an awe-inspiring, hope-filled perfectly detailed post. I'm sure there are many days that God doesn't like me or my attitude either, but He always loves me. Remembering that may aid me in remembering that grace is for all and that this too can be a teachable moment(s) for me as well.

Thank you for such a heart-filled beautiful entry.

At August 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not like my oldest. I never have. I thought there was something wrong with me when he was first born. I don't understand it in the least. I had completely different feelings with my second. I don't understand that either. Turns out my oldest has a major learning disorder, out of proportion anger, and has trouble relating to others, and doesn't pick up on cues others may express. And that he would have acted that way since birth. I finally know it's not just me, that he has trouble relating to people - that I picked up on it and maybe I'm not just an evil person. I tried to tell people there was something wrong from about 6 months on, but was always told - boys are just that way. Everone develops differently. yadda yadda. And then I would reply, no, not all children bite so hard as to bite off flesh. I still have the scar. Now that I know that it's not just me, I'm trying to meet him where he is, knowing it's just not in him to love. It's nothing personal. It's just a synapse misfiring. Now that I know he doesn't hate *me* it's easier, and I can just love him. I never thought my love for anyone especially my children would be conditional. But it is. And I feel less than human for it.

At August 31, 2006, Blogger Anna Venger said...


I think you probably did more good than you will ever know with this post. Surely there are other women who struggle with this and are afraid to speak it out loud to anyone. I don't think this is uncommon.

The question that ran through my mind from the start of your post was, "Is this child the one who is most like you?" I know that the one I struggled with more was the one people think is a little clone of me. That's the one that can grate on your nerves more than any other. And some kids really are difficult. But as you pointed out, God gave you what He did and for a reason. To remember through the hard times that God didn't make a mistake in setting each member into your family is crucial.

God bless you.

At September 01, 2006, Blogger Unknown said...

Robin, I think that this is one of your best posts yet. You were so honest, and the writing is great. Keep it up.

At September 04, 2006, Blogger Andy&Rach said...

I just felt the need to say, especially to Yvonne, that I had this kind of issue, except that I'm the child not the parent. I'm 28 years old now, but my mum and I still have major issues although now they tend to crop up only every few months, rather than the constant rowing which used to happen when I lived at home full time. Ever since I was a tiny baby I'd cry for my dad and not my mum. I think the fact that I was a perfect little angel for my dad and a horror for my mum (from age 0 even to the present time) made things much harder for my mum, and I know my mum and dad used to argue about me a lot. It was never anything specific, we just couldn't get on. She used to get so angry with me (and I with her) and it just became a habit - the way we communicated. Even when we tried to make up after a row she'd say "I love you, I just don't like you very much at the moment". Well actually that used to make me pretty upset. I think being liked is just as important as being loved. Things started to get better when I was about 20 (wow, thats a long time!) and only then because we'd got to the stage where we were very close to never seeing each other again, which is madness as I'd hate for her not to be in my life. Anyway we both admitted the things we had done which were wrong, and mean, and we spoke to each other about how really we both loved each other and we really wanted to be in each others lives. It was really hard but so cathartic. Funnily enough we also had to acknowledge that we are so similar, thats what causes a lot of our problems - we know exactly which buttons to press, and can do so completely dispassionately and just watch the sparks fly... Anyway as I say we still have our moments, but things can be great now too. I don't know anyone who makes me so angry, so upset but also who makes me feel as loved as my mum.
Sorry, didn't mean for this post to be so long....

At September 11, 2006, Blogger Kelly Curtis said...

I'd visited here before, but read the post again anyway. What powerful words you have. Really powerful. And hopeful.

Home of Pass the Torch Tuesday

At September 11, 2006, Blogger Twisted Cinderella said...

(hugs) wonderful post!

At September 11, 2006, Blogger Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Wow, Robin. Wonderful post. Thank you for writing with such candor and authenticity. And thank you for infusing your post with hope.

At September 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a powerful post and very courageous of you to write. I'm sure you're not alone in feeling this way.

Here via Carnival of Family Life.

At September 20, 2006, Blogger eph2810 said...

Robin - all I can say to this post - INCREDIBLE.
Thank you for sharing your heart :) and I think that the Scripture passage is sure fitting.
PS: There was a time I didn't like our son either!

At September 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can so relate to your story. I am one who has sent many years with these same feelings. From the day he was born I had this feeling of disconnet. He was born unhappy and to this day remains that way. No matter how much I try to connect w/him it is realy hard. I pray everyday that God would take these feelings away and show me how to love him.
I think that a big part of the problem is that we are so much alike in so many ways.
Thank You for sharing and letting us share w/ you.
Lost for Words

At September 22, 2006, Blogger Robin said...

Dear ones...I am praying for your anonymous faces...thanks for allowing me a glimpse into your lives......

At February 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post.

I too have a child who is hard to deal with. I just said yesterday that it takes me longer to make him to something than it would be to just do it myself. However, my husband corrected me, reminded me that it doesn't make our son into a Man to do it for him.

This truly is a great post. Thank you for writing it.

I re-read the last paragraph 3 times.

At February 05, 2007, Blogger Emma in Canada said...

Coming from Susan's Fun Monday post.

I read that and saw myself. My 12 year old and I have a very difficult relationship, I have not yet reached the point where I have accepted her for who she is, nor have I reached the point where I realize that I am the one who needs to change. Your post gives me hope that it will happen though

At August 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do not feel like the lone ranger.
I have 4 children ages 36 to 17 (2 marriages).
Not to draw out a long story, but I got married the 1st time at age 21 (got a girl pregnant)and when my oldest child (daughter) was born I had a lot of resentment from the fact that my life was ruined having to marry someone I did not love. Back in the early 70s it was taboo to 'knockup' a girl as you might guess. Anyway
I never had a close relationship with my daughter mainly due to the ex-wife belittling me to her every chance she got. Hence, she had big resent toward me and she didn't really know why. I used to carry the guilt of not really liking my first 2 children because I disliked their mother so much. I soon realized that it was not their fault. I wasn't an abusive father, I was just a hard worker that didn't have time for kids. My priorities were to work hard and play hard. (isn't that selfish of me?) Now that I am in my late 50s I fully understand why my children don't center around me like we did our parents. I gave them everything material-wise, but guess I didn't ever give them what they really craved; Love
Sorry to ramble but your blog hit home
Take care and God bless

At August 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James...thanks for taking the time to comment. I can so feel your heart, your honesty in this.

I guess we don't realize that LOVE is what our kids need most...sometimes it's the easiest thing to give...and sometimes it seems impossible.

To me, there's always time to redeem that which feels, you can't re-write history, once time is spent, it's gone, but somehow, I believe in the power of present love to heal past pain. Does that make sense? Don't think it's too late for your older children. I know your circumstances are VERY different than those described here, but in thinking about my own relationship with my would have never been too late for him to "change" and offer me something he hadn't been able to when I was younger...when he was younger.

Thanks for your words...blessings and peace to you.

At August 28, 2007, Blogger Phoenix said...

This was a very honest and personal post and I'm glad you shared it. I don't have kids, not yet anyway. BUt I have two nieces, one who I find myself not liking. Love, yes, for sure, to the bottom of my toes. But the liking is hard. I thought it's get easier as she got older, but it's only gotten worse. She's a very hard child. But you've given me hope and I thank you for that.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Please click the red's my current blogging spot!

My Photo Name:


Married to my college sweet-heart :)...three GREAT kids I'm not selling to the circus today...I LOVE to laugh (& smile often) to read & cook, hate to shop (unless the store is very small and doesn't leave me dazed and confused). I'm scared of flying so although I'd like to travel more, I don't.

I've been pleasantly surprised to find life in my 40s to be an amazing time of transformation & discovery--of self, others, creation and the Creator.

Here's a partial explanation for my Blog title. I think it'd be cool if they really existed.

A Pensieve is a stone basin.... [One] can extract his or her own memories and place them in the Pensieve, especially to relieve the mind when it becomes too flooded with information. Anyone can examine the memories in the Pensieve, which also allows viewers to fully immerse themselves in the memories stored within...

A Pensieve first appears in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...

For the complete explanation, see
my 2/17/06 post.

My complete profile

Anyone else having technical difficulties?
One to make ya laugh, one to make ya cry
One way to get "us" going...!
A choice to make
Because I'm a geography whiz
O u c h...!
SoaP movie review
More Thomas-isms
Snakes on a Plane
Say "hello" to Chas......

A Perfect Post

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Blogging Chicks []

September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
March 2007
April 2007
November 2007
January 2008

Header Design by:

Blog Design by:

Powered by: