It Really Does Hurt Me More

Posted on | May 22, 2013 | 2 Comments

Lately I’ve felt a bit like a tightrope walker, balancing on the thin line that hovers between playmate and parent.  I’m tediously balanced, by virtue of being a single parent to a single child, and at any minute I feel as though I’m going to topple down into some decidedly evil pit of snakes or spiders or alligators.

My kid has a tender heart.  I feel the need to say that now, because it’s apt to change as he gets older and I want it documented that yes, in fact, he has a tender heart.  When we’re playing a game or being silly it never really matters which role I’m playing but when it goes just the slightest bit too far… when he says a word he shouldn’t say, or throws something that shouldn’t be thrown, or his new favorite … spitting in someone’s face… well, then I have to be the parent.  And it destroys him every time.

I swear he thinks I’m just some giant best friend who also just so happens to feed and clothe him.  Yes he calls me “mom” but the title doesn’t ring true to him. “Mom” is just my name.  It’s just what he calls me; no different than Sally or Jane or Frances.  So when his giant best friend puts on her angry face and says “no,” it’s just as devastating as being bullied by a classmate.  His face crumples, his heart visibly breaks, and he takes off to the farthest corner of the farthest room where he falls to the ground and sobs.

To say that it is hard on both of us is, well, obviously an understatement.

But I don’t really know how else to handle this stage. I don’t want to cut off all play and I can’t cut off all punishment.  But watching him try to mend his heart after a serious “no” from me is heart breaking. I know that I have to be firm and set boundaries but I absolutely hate seeing him like that and knowing it was me who put him there.  Last night, I had to pick him up off the floor and cradle him in my arms until he stopped crying.  I told him that “no” doesn’t mean I don’t love him and that he can’t do anything that would make me stop loving him.  I talked and talked and tried to explain but it never seems like enough.  I want him to know, without a doubt, that I love him… no matter what and come what may.

I know he believes me when I’m fun.

I hope he believes me when I’m firm.



2 Responses to “It Really Does Hurt Me More”

  1. bookworm81
    May 22nd, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    Fwiw my son (who just turned four) has always had exactly the same reaction and he has 2 parents at home and a younger sister (who he loves to play with way more than me). I think it’s just because they love us so much that it hurts their poor little hearts when they know we’re upset at them.

  2. pygmygirl
    May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:02 am

    Same exact situation here (single mom, 3.5yr old kiddo). Except the sadness doesn’t happen so much when it’s just us… more so when Grandma is here and I tell him No, ah man…. he whimpers so softly with tears rolling down… “mommy mad at me”, as though his whole world just crushed. And then runs to his room and crawls in to bed (or recently tries to squish between the dryer and the wall) and cries. I’m not sure if he’s doing it because he’s more embarrassed that Grandma saw it? Whatever it is, it’s heartbreaking.

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