...to wonder if I actually love my child?(207 Posts)
I'm desperately seeking opinions as I'm utterly confused by my experience of motherhood and I'm not sure what to do. If anything.
I have a 2.3 year old daughter who I chose to have alone via sperm donor. The conception was easy, pregnancy awful and the birth very quick and easy. All the way through my awful pregnancy I just thought "All this suffering will be worth it to get my daughter". I envisaged having a really difficult baby but assumed we would have this incredible bond and that she'd be a clingy, cuddly mummies girl. Worth mentioning I'm very tactile and LOVE cuddles and affection.
Anyhoo - what a deluded fool I was. I ended up with the easiest baby I have ever heard of. She slept brilliantly, still does, never had any colic or teething problems, never ill with anything, happy, easy and gorgeous. As a toddler she hits all of her milestones on time and is happy, chatty and easy to parent. She's well behaved and learns things quickly, really likes social interaction with kids and adults and people adore her.
However, she had always been extremely uncuddly and still is. As a baby she squirmed and wriggled away from me when I tried to hold her. Never settled in my arms and preferred her bouncer or cot. The ONE time she was slightly ill with a temperature and I tried to cuddle and console her all night she screamed and pushed me off her.
She's sort of slightly improved a bit now. Now that she is starting to understand things a bit better she will be affectionate in order to get things or because she's done something wrong and is apologising or similar.
She has never, to date, cuddled me for no reason or for the sake of it, or because she 'wants a cuddle'.
I can't overstate the effect this has had on me and its left me really confused as to what is right, my feelings, my experience of motherhood, who I am and even my purpose on this planet. I have cried nearly every single day for the last two years, I've had counselling, group therapy, and have pushed away many many friends.
I'm a shadow of the person I was before I became a mother, I often feel that my existence is pointless if my one shot at motherhood has resulted in a child that doesn't seem to love me. Is disgusted at me almost. I tried to kiss her today and recoiled away from me and pushed my face off her with her hands. I cried for about an hour as she sat next to me impassively watching peppa pig on YouTube.
There is nothing I can compare to this feeling of daily- if not hourly - worthlessness and rejection. If she was my partner I would have dumped her by now as I simply cannot bear being with someone who is cold and unaffectionate. I end relationships with people like that very quickly as its so so fundamental to me not to feel relentlessly worthless and unloved. I can't bear it and yet I have to get through every day feeling like this All. The. Time. And more depressingly, this is it now, for my life, a daughter who makes me feel like this all the time and for the rest of my life.
I am so consumed by it all I have come to the point where I don't even know if I love her or not and I'd like someone to tell me what they think.
So the positives are: I think she's awesome. I find her fascinating, hilarious, helpful, happy and beautiful. If someone asked me to swap her in for someone else, I wouldn't. The thought of her not being in my life fills me with the deepest fear imaginable and I am absurdly grateful that she's mine. All mine. I adore dressing her up, brushing her hair and taking her to places and teaching her new things.
Occasionally when she smiles at me my heart melts and my stomach goes to mush. I (rather pathetically) wake up each morning with a sense of hope and excitement at seeing her and spending the day with her.... She wakes up.... And it goes downhill from there.
I pick her out of bed, she pushes my hands off her, my heart sinks, I sit her next to me in bed, she shuffles away a good few inches, my heart sinks further still, I lean in to kiss her... She cringes.... My heart finally breaks and I start to cry. The day has barely begun and I'm sobbing next to an impassive child.
It makes me resent her. It makes me feel a sort of hatred towards her. I HATE SAYING THAT. It makes me not want to play with her. I often don't play with her for fear of being rejected further. Often when I look at her I feel nothing in my heart, I'm so defeated by her and this experience. I am getting to the point where I have this slow creeping suspicion that I don't love her and it's so so scary and depressing I don't know what to do or think anymore.
Worth mentioning I've been assessed for actual depression and I don't have it - as in chemically - I sleep well, eat well, enjoy pleasures in life and am a positive person in many ways. I get sad but I don't have depression.
Please help. Please be kind I could not feel more low or crap about myself right now. Feel free to be honest but don't bash me about too much.
Thank you in advance xxxx
blimey OP it sounds just horrible for both of you
some people aren't tactile - I am one of them - I hate being cuddled and fussed - I love my mum and my kids and they know and try to accept this about me
in the kindest way possible you seem to have decided what an ideal child is like (based on some fantasy child) and have lost sight of the fact she is an individual and not an extension of you
She's probably as baffled and exhausted as you are
drop the expectations and ideals and live in the moment - find an adult to give you the cuddles you crave
Huge huge hug, first of all
I think that you might have to consider that you are looking for these cuddles for yourself and not for her
That is okay once you realise it as you can then spend some time addressing it
My last D is v different than the other 2. She sounds exactly the same as yours in many ways and I was really hurt by her behaviour
When I started putting it in its rightful place it all became a little easier.
She started to show more affection at around 4 but it is still v different than with the others and utterly on her terms and often quite strange
I worked with someone who was a specialist in attachment theories and he suggested that I speak to another psychologist regarding my feelings of hurt disappointment and need/longing
Very quickly those things were acknowledged and I was able to work with what was going on for me
You aren't alone in what you are feeling and thinking. No one really talks about when things aren't all smooth sailing
You can't expect a toddler to fulfil your emotional needs.
What you describe about not wanting to trade her for any other child, that is a strong bond!
I bet she would pick you too.
It sounds like you have intuited her needs exceptionally, for her to be so settled. She sounds like a cool character!
Stop expecting things from her, just let her be.
It's not fair to expect a child to fulfil your emotional needs.
Have you thought about church, meditation or something similar if you are seeking....
She doesn't have the same love language as you, that's all. I'm sure she loves you - to a toddler, you are her world. You mustn't put pressure on your daughter to fulfil your emotional needs, it's not her fault you have nobody to hug.
I want to be kind but honest. You are too needy. You had a child to fill a gap in your life. Work on you, your happiness, you expect too much of a little girl.
It almost reads like you wish she'd been ill as a child. I'm sure you don't mean that, but the desperation for it to be your idea of parenting is palpable.
Acceptance of what is and appreciation for what you have takes really deep personal work but you owe it to both of you to do it.
Don't wake up every day hoping it'll be how you wish. Wake up learning how to give her space, I bet she'll love you the more for it.
Fwiw it sounds like you're very sad and I hope it feels better for you over time.
she is still quite young, there is time! kids seem to get more cuddly as they get older, at least DS did. He is now 2.5 and it's probably been only the last few months he's been really "huggy", before that he was just wriggly!
maybe she is sensing your frustration and down feelings and responding to it. She is a young child and doesn't yet understand these emotions well enough to respond in the way you want her too, they could be scaring her off bonding a bit.
do you do much bonding stuff together just the two of you, maybe out of your house, somewhere new?
did you get assessed for PND? I had doubts about the love i had for my child when he was born but it's grown and grown, I think my PND just affected our relationship, but now he's a bit older it's easier and the love has grown so much.
bear in mind too that different kids have different personalities. She might just not be the huggy type!
Does she have any developmental delays or any signals of conditions that might mean she would behave in this way? I don't want to put anything in your head but if you're really worried it might be worth speaking to your Health Visitor to get them to assess her for anything awry. Does she make eye contact? Does she give other people hugs or show affection to them?
Aww op, couldn't read and run. I don't have any advice, but I really feel for you.
Gosh there is an awful lot going on in your post OP.
I can give you and armchair psychology response to it, but it really sounds like you could do with talking to a professional about it all. Relationships between a mother and an only daughter can be seriously intense at the best of times so a counsellor might be the pressure valve you need.
Others may suggest you get the relevant tests for autistic spectrum stuff given her recoil from physical affection. I'm no expert but it couldn't hurt to rule it out.
But honestly what jumps out here is how much you seem to NEED, emotionally, from your toddler. Maybe she's feeling a bit smothered, and asserting her need for some space. Maybe the fact you are so visibly emotional, crying etc, makes you a bit unpredictable to her so she is withdrawing from that. Maybe it's just her personality to show affection in other ways. Either way it's clearly gone on long enough that you are totally distressed by it all and reading her every move as rejection. Please think about seeking some help, you are obviously a loving and committed mum but you really need someone on the outside to help you reboot how you two are relating to each other. Good luck
I didn't get the baby I thought I was going to get in that he screamed constantly. I envisaged walks in he pram, cosy coffees with friends in Starbucks etc
One day an old friend said to me 'sometimes you just have to remember to love the child you got rather than the one you thought you were going to get'
At first I was a little offended and taken aback by it but after thinking about it I realised she was right and also that she didn't mean to offend me in any way, the same way I don't mean to offend you at all!!
DS refuses kisses the majority of the time and cuddles are on his terms and I really just have to be ok with that. That's not to say it's easy, but it's his choice to make even at such a young age.
Your daughter really does love you, please don't doubt that!!! Maybe try to find a mutually agreeable way of affection between you. I have a special high five with ds which no one else has with him.xxx
Shit that sounds tough.
You seem very, very convinced that lack of tactility = rejection. I'm wondering why that is?
Your daughter sounds fab - and if she is as bright and lovely as you describe that is in no small part down to you.
Is there any way for you to accept that maybe your girl is just different to you?
My son wasn't really into cuddles at that age, and I really worried I'd done something wrong or that he had a development problem. However, just before his third birthday he got really affectionate and loves coming for a random cuddle. Usually when I'm trying to talk on the phone or do something on the laptop! At 3.5 he started saying "I love you" back to me. It takes time, but I'm sure your daughter will be the same.
I would focus more on meeting her needs rather than your own and try and reduce the crying in front of her. I would recommend getting a dog for cuddles, they don't disappoint
I'm so sorry you feel like this. It is very hard being around someone who does not demonstrate affection in the same way you do.
I am sure you love her and I am sure she loves you. However it does sound a little like you were expecting a certain experience of a cuddly tactile child and are pursuing the idea despite signals from your dd that she is not comfortable. Who knows, she could feel overwhelmed or be picking up on your desire for contact and disappointment in some way.
Everyone is different, sorry to sound trite but it's true. It may be the way you're feeling at the moment that is making it particularly hard for you to take. Perhaps she may need a little space and time and she may come to you once she is ready.
Hard to say but try not to put too much pressure on her showing you love or affection in a very specific way. It'll be there for you to see it, she will show you in her own special way. All the best to you.
My oldest child was a very unhuggy baby and I deeply envied those friends with cuddly ones. He is much more affectionate now aged 4 than he ever was as a little one.
I sympathise with your feelings but it's a horribly heavy burden to put on your DD. She isn't what you wanted her to be, but that doesn't make her (or you) wrong.
This may sound facetious, but have you thought about getting a dog? A lovely affectionate hound that you can cuddle and be silly with; your daughter may even think it looks fun and join in.
Hugs to you
What a wonderfully honest post.
My heart goes out to you.
I wish I had some advice but I know there's plenty on here that may be of some help.
Can you start from the beginning again? A parent is there to give the child what they need to thrive. There is no vice versa. I imagine it might be hard to not have an adult relationship, to crave love and the comfort of touch. But your daughter is not a substitute for that. Do you think she may have ASD, in which case an assessment might be in her best interests? Or do you think she may be self possessed and your 'neediness' makes her withdraw? I have no idea if her behaviour is within the normal spectrum for her age. But I think yours isn't - I think I would worry for my baby and not myself if she seemed not to want to be touched. It might not be all about you. I'm sorry that this is uninformed and harsh. But I think you are in a knot and need to untangle somehow.
Your daughter sounds amazing and you sound like a fantastic devoted mum.
Some children like some people just are not tactile, which upsets you as you take it as rejection. You're bound to. Not only that but you just want to squeeze them and chew them up sometimes don't you, Turned around the other way. My mum or dad never sat me on their knee or cuddled me but I knew I was loved to bits. My nan and Grandad on the other hand were always very tactile.
I think DoMeDon has it spot on. Trying to guilt her into cuddling you by crying beside her isn't very fair, although I hear your sadness and pain. She needs you to be the parent, not the child.
I speak as the daughter of a woman who had children to try and ensure she had an endless supply of emotional support and a bottomless well of sympathy. It did not go according to her plan.
I hope you find the affection you need, and that your DD can express her love for you in her own way, OP.
Wow, I'm not going to be too harsh as you're obviously suffering . From a general encouragement , mine didn't want cuddles at that age and one of mine still doesn't mostly but I have one cuddly one. What concerns me about your post is why you had a child . Was it to have something to love you back - not being funny but sometimes my cat shows me more affection. A child doesnt and shouldn't have to cuddle and kiss you for you to love her. It sounds like you're lacking something and expecting this child to fill it. your bit where you said 'shes mine, all mine' worries me too and the dressing up and brushing hair. She's a girl who'll one day be an independent woman. She is not your possession.
I'm pointing out these things cos clearly you need to get some help. Is there a big church near you? They often have parenting courses which deal a lot with how to express love. I would highly recommend. It's not to ram the bible down your throat , but it's a good course. Good luck
I have only skim read but will be back! My DD was fiercely in dependant from being tiny. She is strong willed, a total Tom boy and not very cuddly. She never confirmed to stereotypes. 5 years on she is the same and I am immensely proud of her strong will, determination and sporting prowess. She is a natural
Leader. She hates pink and girls stuff. I love her to bits but she's hard work so I totally get why you may feel like that. I have friends who say the same. Your DD is possibly similar. Try and bin your old expectations and enjoy the girl you have.
My DS is much more loving and cuddly, but also un driven and lazy.Do speak to your GP too tho as you may have Pnd x
My daughter is exactly the same OP, and like you, I'm very tactile and love physical affection, I think the only difference between us may be that I don't need it in the same way you do.
My daughter was, and can still be unaffectionate, but I found that a good way of working it in was to build it into routine. What started as a forehead peck at bedtime over time has evolved into a game where I call her back from her bedroom door for "one last kiss" until she shakes her head and refuses to come, then I have to chase her for the last one, squealing and laughing into bed. What started as a chasing game where when I caught her and gave her a quick squeeze and promptly put down has turned into longer cuddles.
Remember she's still learning affection. Teach her it the same way you'd teach anything else, with fun and no pressure.
So you don't currently connect on the cuddles and emotional side but do you have any shared interests? A common sense of humour, enjoying walks, painting, role play - I say build up your shared interests and become firm friends and maybe the cuddles and love will come - if she is highly sociable and socially aware maybe she is more sensitive so the cuddles and need for affection are overwhelming, plus the subsequent crying - it must be confusing so she deals with it by ignoring it.
Start little in jokes and find your shared narrative. My ds fought off kisses - turns out he hates wet kisses but loves a kiss where you wipe you mouth dry first (df is rather a wet kisser). Df felt quite left out as I bf and ds always wanted my cuddles but they have a very different but equally warm relationship and really connect on other levels - ds now cuddles equally df has in jokes but I do role play where he will not.
Not being cuddly is NOT a sign of autism.
My daughter has severe autism and is like a cuddly limpet.
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