I admit that my relationship with my 3 year old has been “off” for a couple weeks now…maybe even as long as a month.
I’m not sure how it happened. Maybe the stress of the holidays coupled with a long road trip, and life in general has kept me from focusing on motherhood.
The problem was that I didn’t see the real reason why things were different, but I could feel the difference.
He quit asking me to play and instead played by himself. I thought he was just growing up and it was a new phase he was in. Honestly, I didn’t mind, I had time to focus on my to do list.
Now I realize that he was pulling away from me.
Maybe I was pulling away too.
He’s going to be starting preschool soon, and I’ve been having a hard time with it. So maybe I was backing away in preparation of not having him around all the time.
Whatever the reason, something felt different.
We were in the same house, yet, I missed him.
Then he started behaving differently.
He was more emotional, and small things started to set him off. Things that he’d handle with grace before, now caused melt downs and tears that I just didn’t understand.
Soon, life got even busier with Christmas, traveling, packing, unpacking, putting away toys, and reorganizing. Which meant I had even less time to focus on him and his needs.
Then he told me that he didn’t love me anymore. Not just once, but several times. Pretty much every day he’d tell me that he didn’t love me.
Weirdly enough, I brushed it off.
“He’s been acting weird for a while now, must be a new stage.”
“He’s just becoming more aware of the world and what it means to have friends, and what a family means. This is normal.”
“He’s just playing with labels, and is trying to figure out what love means”.
“It’s ok, he still loves me”.
After the holidays, things finally slowed down. I was able to stop and spend time with him.
We played together, we ate our meals together, we slowed down together.
Things were better, but not perfect. He still had a hard time with things and yelled at me often. I was also having a hard time. I was still yelling, feeling rushed and frustrated. One morning last week, I ended up yelling about something really small. When I went to him to apologize, he said, “Mom, it’s ok, I love you again.”
And BAM! It hit me.
He really meant it when he said he didn’t love me. It wasn’t just a phase. He was telling me something I needed to hear and I didn’t hear him.
It tore me up and I cried, right there on his bed with him in my arms. It told him that I was sorry that I didn’t pay attention to him when he was upset with me and that I would try harder to listen to him.
That was just a few days ago and amazingly enough, my son is back.
He’s more playful, he’s happier, we are more connected, and life is easier.
He doesn’t yell and scream anymore and he’s compliant. I’m pretty sure it’s because he doesn’t have to yell to feel heard.
I finally heard what he needed me to hear.
What an amazingly honest and true post! I love this and have felt this way many times. I cried with you and smiled as I finished the post! Thank you for sharing
So glad you liked the post Dayna, and thanks for your kind words.
Thank you so much for sharing such a heartfelt post! Sometimes we just need to apologize and reconnect with our kids — I know I’ve been in this situation before.
Haven’t we all been in similar situations? I think it’s one of the hardest parts of motherhood. However, I’m amazed with how much apologizing and reconnecting works with kids!
Dawn @ PricklyMom
You weren’t kidding when you said you were writing a post that was hard to write.
Hang in there, Amanda. We’re all here for you.
Thanks Dawn. Feels good to get it out there, but not an easy write for sure. I’d totally give you a hug if we lived closer 🙂
Beautifully written. I know people say little kids don’t really know what they are saying but I think some do. Mine does. He means what he says and you have to take it seriously or teaching him the importance of listening is us is silly. I hope I listen well enough, but you give a great reminder to really make sure you are! Glad it feels better now!
Thank you Sarah! Kids really do know what they are saying and need to be listened to. My son it like yours, in that he means what he says and really wants to be heard. I’m just glad I can usually hear what he is saying…obviously not all the time though!
Theres Just One Mommy
Oh, I think the tears are a coming!
Something you wrote just touched on here. My daughter pulled away a couple years ago, and we seem to fight all the time now. (She is 6.) I know I spend more time helping her brother with things, and I think I need to start listening to what she may be asking without words.
Sometimes it is hard to hear what they are saying without words. It’s like we need to be mind readers! Good luck reconnecting with your daughter.
Jodie @ Growing Book by Book
What a great reminder for us as parents. Thanks so much for sharing and I’m so glad things are back on track.
Thanks Jodie! I’m glad too…hopefully things will stay good for a while.
Thank you so much for sharing this story. Tears still in my eyes, knowing i am not alone in this emotianal roller coaster. I need to do more slowing down and listening, I knew it in the back of my head but only with your story I got a wake up call. Thank you
You’re welcome 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and letting me know that I’m not alone too.
I think that our littles don’t always have the vocabulary to express what they really meant – LUCKY you that you figured it out and found a way to re-connect with him. What a powerful message that what kids say is important and worth listening too.
I think you are absolutely right! We must listen to what they are really saying, not just with their words but behaviors too.
I haven’t experienced “the hate” word yet but have gotten the “i’m not your best friend anymore” comment from my two year old! However I notice a huge difference in my kids attitudes and behaviors and demeanor when I’m not giving them the attention they are accustomed too. I had so much going on with B the last few months it was hard to not focus my thoughts on her well being and I saw a huge difference. My 4 year old is in peek 3 mornings and the week we had her MRI was the first time he got bad reports from school! And its like u said they don’t understand when our minds are elsewhere and they know and they don’t know how to communicate properly about emotions, so they act out to get back the attention they deserve. Once I figured out why he was all the sudden being the child you pray your child is not in school it was back to normal for him and hasn’t had a bad repot since! Man this mothering stuff is hard! 🙂 You are a great mom and don’t worry peek isn’t so bad…..now kindergarten I just may have an anxiety attack over! I have to figure that out by feb when enrollment begins here!
Veens @ Our Ordinary Life
So true, if he we listen to our kids, there is no reason for them to yell and scream- why didn’t it hit me before? I am constantly feeling stressed, that is my issue not his, and I really need to listen to him more. I loved this post – I sure needed to read this today.
Such a beautiful and honest post with such a lovely message at the heart of it. Listen.
oh gracious… what a tough thing to go through. am so glad that you guys were able to resolve it and are back to your normal, loving relationship 🙂
Oh, hugs to you momma! We all go through hard moments with our kids
Thank you for posting this, I can relate. My son has become distanced at times, runs to others to give him attention because I have been distracted. This brought me to tears. I need to slow down & give him what he needs. Thank you
This is so beautifully written! I’ve had those moments with my 3-year-old, too, where for this reason or that we’ve gotten disconnected. It’s so easy to brush off the things kids show us as a phase, but on the other hand they speak so clearly when we’re really listening. It’s that way for me, anyway. I’m so glad you two were able to reconnect!
Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)
This is so honest of you to share… I’m sure it will help many other moms. It can be incredibly difficult for us to recognize and admit when we missed signals from our children.
It sounds like you have a wise and sensitive young man on your hands. And that he has a good mother.
My 5 year old has always told me he does t love me and that he only loves his dad. I don’t think it’s fair to say this is something I cause.
Oh I’m not, I’m saying it was something I caused. I just figured that other people might have the same issue I had, so I wrote what worked for me to help those in similar situations. There can be hundreds of reasons why kids say they don’t love a parent. This is just ours.
I stumbled on this post after feeling heartbroken tonight after hearing my 3 yr old daughter tell me yet again that she doesn’t love me, only her Dad. This has been going on for a few months. We’ve been doing better lately, but it still hurts a lot to hear her say that she doesn’t love me, and she tells me this very regularly! I know that some of it is a cycle: I don’t give her enough attention, she acts out, I feel frustrated with her and detach emotionally, then ta-da! She says she doesn’t love me. This post was a good reinforcement that I need to be proactive about giving her positive reinforcement and attention before we get to the point of her acting out. It is a difficult subject for sure!!
My3 year old goes to preschool and i been so stressed withhim going to preschool and the neibiors i have and just alot dirrent small stuff . Only issue is i do pay attention to him 24 7 somtimes i let him play and like when i tell him no thats when he fully starts his i dont love you recently hes been in preschool and hes saying alot and tells me he wants school not moma and teacher told this and i feel like im a bad mom now and im not trying be hes only been in school for 2 weeks now and hes trying to come along notice he laughing more. Willing to go school lot more and happier just feel me sending him to school confused him and made think i dont love him anymore how can i seriously fix this feeling he may have i trying it all sometimes it works but i dont want him thinking it hes y world
My 4 year old is in foster care and toldr for the 1st time
he don’t love me..does he mean it?
I’m so sorry to hear this. He might be feeling some pain and sadness in your absence, but you are his Mom and he’ll always love you. It just might take some time for things to repair after a seperation.