When they say “I hate you” and you learn something

‘I hate you and I wish you weren’t here’…now those aren’t words you hear everyday of your life. They also aren’t words you expect from your 5 year old…a 15 year old – yeah definitely but not from your 5 year old. We had words. My 5 year old got disciplined, I stood my ground on something because of bad behavior and that was her response.

Now I know enough about parenting to know that kids will say things that they don’t mean and usually I brush off the stomps to the room, the slammed door and even occasionally the tongue wag or the “NO!” – they get disciplined after such behavior and I blow it off completely unphased… but this…this was more than I bargained for from a pre-pubescent child! At first I tried not to be bothered by it but my real emotions caught up with me and I was rendered speechless.  Maybe it was because I had a long hard day, maybe it was because I had emptied myself out as a mom and felt unappreciated or maybe it was just feeling like I failed as a mom for my kid to say that…at any rate… I literally looked at my 5 year old, no words would come and then completely unexpectedly – I cried. I was shocked by my own emotion. I’ve never cried in front of my kids. I’ve never shown them that. I couldn’t keep it back though, it was like my heart poured out of my eyes. In one moment I experienced the pain I caused my own mom when those words came out of my mouth at 16 while at the same time I experienced my own sadness that my own daughter would even think such a thing and actually say it out loud not to mention the intensity of it. It hurt.

My kids looked at me like I was a unicorn. My 5 year old began to sob and my other two kids just kept saying

“I’ve never seen you cry mommy”

“Are you okay, I didn’t know adults got sad”

“I didn’t know adults cried”

and the most tender “Mommy, do you have a broken heart right now, will it get back together?”

My reply…

“Yes, mommy is hurt and sad and I forgive. Yes, adults cry. Yes, adults get sad…a lot. Kids get sad, kids cry and adults are no different – we are all people. Yes, its okay to cry. Yes it’s okay to be sad.”

We had a moment…I actually have tears streaming down my face as I remember the innocence, beauty and overall teachable moment for all of us.

My 5 year old said sorry more times than I could count and just hugged me like she was a koala bear on a eucalyptus tree. My other kids just kept looking bewildered that they had seen me cry and wanted to comfort both of us. It’s not like I was wailing…they just had never seen me …well, so human…they had never seen me be…sad.

I looked at my 5 year old and said “I love you so much and I forgive you. I know you didn’t mean that and I am sorry that you were so frustrated that you said that. You still won’t get your way but I do forgive you and now you know that your words can really hurt people”

We hugged and she kept reassuring me that she didn’t mean it and I kept reassuring her that I knew that and that I loved her more than she could ever know.

In that one moment I think we all learned a lesson none of us bargained for. My 5 year old feels things really intensely…(like me)  which means if she loves you and all is well you would feel as though you hung the moon. On the flip side…if she’s mad because she doesn’t get her way or feels misunderstood…watch out…she stomps, she slams doors..and says things that hurt. She doesn’t mean what comes out of that little mouth but her frustration overrides her ability to filter.

In this moment she visibly saw hurt.

It was a visual for her that while you can’t see mean words..they write pain on peoples heart.

For me it was freeing to be able to be a human and healthy for my kids to see that I’m not the rock of gibralter. Now I don’t necessarily think this gives parents license to be emotional basket cases around their child letting their every emotion flit back and forth like a tossing wave…that gives a child extreme insecurity. However, what I do think is important is for kids to see that genuine hurt and feelings are not something to pretend we don’t have. I know someone who grew up in a home where emotions were considered weak and unacceptable. This kind of unbalanced thinking creates children who stuff emotion who turn into adults who run from emotion, vulnerability and transparency. All of these things are vital to healthy relationships, being able to navigate through the ups and downs of life and are essential to dealing with the inevitable reality of pain. When we pretend that our emotions aren’t part of our humanity we deny a piece of the image of God that we were crafted after.  Jesus had genuine emotion. Even Jesus wept. Jesus was angry. Jesus had compassion…

While we don’t obey our every emotion ignoring the reality of them dilutes the human experience and can hinder us tremendously from connecting, from learning from ourselves, from our pain, from our joy and from others.

So we learned…again.

We learned that words hurt people.

We learned that love covers a multitude of sins.

We learned that sadness is allowed.

We learned that we make mistakes.

We learned that …it’s okay to be human…it’s okay to be real…

but most of all we learned that forgiveness heals us….

Maybe your kid didn’t tell you they hate you…but maybe someone or something hurt you a lot worse than our little scenario. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be human. It’s okay to be real.

It’s best to forgive.
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