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Hard to Love?

I was getting ready Friday morning, my son was still in bed, listening to music. Well, listening to one song over and over again. The song was titled, Hard to Love. The song was about a romantic relationship, but it didn’t take me too long to figure out that he was playing it repeatedly because this is how he felt, that I felt about him. That he was hard to love.

He came over to me, this man child of mine and looked at me, and his eyes asked me “Am I hard to love?”

I pulled his face towards me with my hands, I kissed his forehead and told him “You have never, ever been hard to love.”

He has been hard to parent. Hard to manage. Hard to live with. But so have I. I was hard to parent. Hard to manage and hard to live with which is why I choose to live kids sometimes the hapless hostages to my motherhood.

The lyrics go like this in case you aren’t familiar with the song - commentary back to my son are in (italics):

I am insensitive, I have a tendency

To pay more attention to the things that I need

(You are insensitive sometimes, we all have a tendency to pay more attention to what we need rather than what others do. This is a condition on being human - if you are mindful about this tendency within yourself you will be better at caring for others).

Sometimes I drink to much,

(Yeah, been there, done that. Didn’t work).

Sometimes I test your trust,

(Yes you have, but you have done so much work in this area, it will take time, I will not front you trust, but I can see you really are working on it).

Sometimes I dunno why you stay with me?

(Because I love you and I am your mom and while I will not always agree with all that you do or say, I will always love you and do my best to support you when I can).

I'm hard to love, hard to love, oh I don't make it easy.

(You are not hard to love, you are easy to love, you make your life harder on those who love you, most of all you make it hard for yourself).

And I couldn't do it if I stood where you stood

(I hope you never have to but if you are a parent, you will).

I'm hard to love, hard to love and you say that you need me

(I do need you to give up thinking you are hard to love).

I don't deserve it but I love that you love me good

(Everyone deserves love it is like gravity, it applies equally to everyone).

I am a short fuse

(You got that from me, how can I call you out on that without calling myself out too?)

I am a wreckin' ball crashin' into your heart like I do

(You have caused a lot of crashes but so have I. It takes two).

You're like a Sunday mornin’.

(Sometimes I am and sometimes I am Saturday Fight Night).

Full of grace and full of Jesus

(Only when I try really, really hard and more Buddha than Jesus).

I wish that I could be more like you

(You are so much like me in the best and worst ways. If you were more like me, I would be worried about our chances).

I'm hard to love, hard to love, oh I don't make it easy.

(We have covered this - you are not).

And I couldn't do it if I stood where you stood

(I hope you never have to go through with your kids what we have been through...).

I'm hard to love, hard to love and you say that you need me

(I will always need you to be accountable, to show up for your life and do your best and I will always need that from you).

I don't deserve it but I love that you love me good

(I really do).

Love me good

(I try every single day).

Girl you've given me a million second chances

(I have...)

And I don't ever wanna take you for granted

(And you have...)

I'm just a man, I'm just a man


Hard to love, hard to love


Oh I don't make it easy

(Growing up is hard...stop making it harder)

And I couldn't do it If I stood where you stood

(We are working on standing on firmer ground...).

It breaks my heart that he feels hard to love. I immediately go to the place where I feel like I haven’t done the best job, where I have failed him. But I know from my own experience that it doesn’t matter how much someone loves you, if you think you are hard to love, then you are.

I can’t rewrite his narrative about himself, but I can tell him as I spend this time with him, that I do not find him hard to love. The loving is always easy, it is the living that is hard.

And it has been a hard weekend. Good in I can now see where we need to direct our attention, where the work is for both of us. I am not ready for him to come home. And, even though he would fight me to the death on this one, he isn't ready to come home either. We would be back where we started from in short order. I see it. I feel it. I love him but I cannot do a long stretch without some more work: work on myself and work with him.

I told him when this moment happened that he has never been hard to love...but living with him has been incredibly difficult. He is such a good person but his need to control the narrative, the plans, to move all things and beings into the narrow trench of his own ideas is exhausting. But isn't that true of all of us? We make hard terms for those we love the most. The stranger on the street we can give the grace, but in our homes and families, we struggle to not act out, to be the best person we can be.

I am scared as to where we go from here. Can we both do the required work? Can my son give up his false narrative and become willing to see a more balanced view? Can he allow for someone other than him to know things? Can I not be triggered into silence or frustration? I do not know...

And at moments like these, I know only that he has never been hard to love. The loving has always been easy which is part of what made the living so hard. I look at him at sixteen and wonder how he will ever make it on his own. So many things that he is unprepared for and lacking in the ability to even allow someone to help him because he so thinks he needs to rely only upon his thoughts and ideas. It terrifies me...

While I do not find him hard to love, I do find time with him to be challenging. The time spent hard labor, even though it is a labor of love. The good moments feel so fleeting and the challenging, hard moments feel like they will never end.


So I do the only thing I know to do...go for the love. Try to approach him and time with him aiming for the love, working to uncover it when it gets buried underneath all of his wants and demands. And to appreciate that as hard as this weekend has been, there was no shouting, or police involvements. There was no swearing or screaming. There were no slammed doors or even really anger. There was only the pain of loving someone who still really doesn't love himself. Which takes me all the way back to my own family who I know suffered similarly as I grew up thinking that I knew fucking everything. That my set course for self destruction was a great idea and those that were concerned for me, annoying and in the way.

I struggled, but I survived and today I see the immense value in the struggle. We fight hard for things we care deeply about and that is why I do long weekends that tear at my heart and warp my mind. That is why I am exhausted. Because parenting is hard. Loving is easy. Being present and staying with the hardness wears you out. I am grateful that today we each go back to our respective homes. We have only a little time left, I am going to do my utmost best to be present and loving and enjoy him. I am going to do my best to help undercut his narrative that he is hard to love.

And I am going to treasure moments like the ones in this photo where he comes to me and puts his arms around me and allows me to capture it in a photo. One where I can look up at him with wild amusement and so much fucking love.

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