Easy to Love, But Hard to Like


I have a kid who is easy to love. Oh my gosh, she is SO easy to love.

She is kind with an enormous heart. She is the first to jump in if you need help. She’s crazy empathetic and can sense if something is off with you and will do everything in her power to make you feel better.

She’s discerning and intuitive – her gut is rarely wrong. Her observations about people are astute, and this kid does not miss a trick.

She is fierce and determined and brave and hilarious. She has a hold on my heart that is impossible to put into words.

She is affectionate and goofy and smart. And clever – like MacGyver kind of clever. She can figure anything out. She’s a great problem solver and often finds a solution so obvious you can’t even see it.

She’s the whole entire package. She is so easy to love.

But she can be hard to like.

Many moons ago, when I was in grad school, my boyfriend at the time once said (in a very exasperated and annoyed tone), “God. Sometimes you are just too much.” To this day, it’s still about the most hurtful thing anyone has said to me. So I hate myself a little bit every time I find myself thinking that same thing about this most exceptional, tenderhearted girl of mine.

I find myself telling her to calm down, settle down, quiet down, turn it down a notch. And I do it with an eye for her future, trying to help her … manage her bigness? I’m not sure what to call it. Until she can learn better how to read a room and determine if it’s a crowd that can handle all that she is.

But then I’m ashamed for trying to turn her down.

We talk about when it’s appropriate to be big and brash and when maybe we need to be a little more subdued – and honestly, it’s a lesson I’m still trying to learn myself. I don’t ever want to dim her light, but I want to help her control when to burn it so brightly, because I’d hate for her to be on the losing end of people who need more time to warm up to her or who can’t handle her personality’s size.

I’m nervous about her future.

She is at that terrible age where kids – girls especially – become crueler as they sort out their own internal confusion. She generally starts from a place of distrust and outrage, which can fairly easily bubble up to anger and an overwhelming feeling of indignation. She speaks in exclamation marks and so sometimes, even when she’s not upset, it sounds like she is.

It takes energy to keep up with her. She’s got some really wonderful friends who see beneath the sometimes-prickly surface and love and appreciate her for her heart and humor. But I fear that (soon) she’s going to be too much for some kids and will find herself alone. 

I can’t convince her how extraordinary she is and how many amazing gifts she brings to the world and what a blessing she is to know. She has to arrive there on her own, and we’re struggling with how to help her along. Loneliness during the middle school years won’t help, I don’t think.

Like any good mother in today’s generation, I can find several ways that this is directly my fault, this lack of confidence and all these insecurities. I wasn’t patient with her when she was a baby – in that critical 4th trimester when she’s developing her trust. I screwed that up pretty bad, but holy cow it was harder the second time around with a toddler at home.

I was not the Zen mother earth I like to think I was with her older sibling. (Which, truth be told, is most likely not an accurate depiction of how I was the first time around either.) So maybe because I can convince myself part of this is my fault, I feel compelled to make it better for her. Which, I know – I can’t. And this kid does not need to be improved upon. She is perfection in her own imperfect way.

We’re working with a professional to give her tools to help her exhale through some of her frustration and work through some perceived-but-not-actual-slights, which can elicit an exaggerated response. We don’t want to snuff out her fire, because this one will change the world, but we want to help her manage the inevitable growing pains.  

And shining so bright in the middle of all this angst and worry and fear is this girl and the total and complete confidence I have in this kid to just handle it, to get it done, to make it happen. Because that’s what she does. It’s what she’s always done.

Her way may not be how I would do it or what I’d recommend or how I think it will serve her best in the future, but it’s hers. Her way. Her life. Her personality. Her path to wander. And the angst and worry and fear I feel is just a reminder of how hard the growing-up process is – for all of us.

Do you have a child that can be hard to like? How do you handle it?



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