Dear Mommy...Dear Mommy...

My four year old has pulled out the big guns. And oh boy, are we having a moment of motherhood! Not the soft, fuzzy, victorious kind, but the kind where you've got to dig deep and earn your mommy stripes. When your sweet little one, the apple of your eye, looks you dead in the eye, screeching, "I hate you Mommy!" Ah, motherhood.

Once abided by without question, established rules in our house are now met with HATRED. No video games at the dinner table. If you don't pick up your stuff you lose it. No dessert if you don't eat your dinner. Perfectly reasonable rules all now elicit the "H" bomb.

"I hate you mommy!"

Adults don't speak those powerful words to each other for a reason. I haven't been on the receiving end of them for years, AND I've been through a divorce. (ba-dum-bum!) For a moment, I forgot that they were coming from my irrational, developing son, and felt their raw impact in my gut, where I was transported back to the schoolyard. Where kids learn the power of the word "hate" in a survival of the meanest. Only this time, the meanie was my son. My son hates me. HATES me.

I walked away in silence taking a mommy time out. I know he doesn't really hate me. But I flashed forward to him at 12, 15, 18, 28 years old. Don't skin heads and serial killers and bullies start out hating their mothers? What if he really hates me? How much hate is normal? After a minor mommy freak out, the panic subsided and I calmed down.

He is four. He is trying on new social skills he learns from his peers. I know emotional separation from me is necessary as he grows. He will assert himself, test me, and whether I like it or not, the day is coming, where mommy won't have the answer, or be able to fix everything. But please, don't let us be there yet.

I miss the baby days. When they couldn't tell you that they hated you. When spitting on you was involuntary. The worst they could do was poop and cry for hours. Ah, the old days. So much simpler.

The only light at the end of the tunnel is that his declarations of hate are followed by his consequences for me:

"I will not snuggle you! No hugs, no kisses, no snuggles, NOTHING!"

Awesome. Inside, I'm giggling that the worst punishment his hate can dole out is to withhold snuggles. He might not be a serial killer after all.

So, he "hates" me. It's not going to be the first time. I tell him that those words hurt my feelings, but I still love him and I'm not mad at him. He doesn't quite know what to make of me.

Let the snuggle stand-off begin! We'll see who caves at bedtime. :)

What do you do when your children say they hate you? Does it get easier to hear as your kids get older?

-Diane Mizota, Host of This Week in M.O.M

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