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'When my daughter was born, I realised some children are harder to love than others.'

Some children are harder to love than others.

That's not to say you love them any less than their siblings, and it's completely normal to love your children differently. The struggle for me, though, was the fight with myself to overcome the resentment I had towards my child. I suffered terribly in my labours and I am so sure I have PTSD after those experiences. 

The first time around, labour went for about 60 hours and my ability to recount the events within that time is not possible. I have tried. 

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I took my precious boy home, and from that day he was an easy, obedient little boy. He barely whinged or cried. At restaurants he sat patiently, on planes he slept, and at home he did what he was told and went about his business quietly.

Then his sister was born.

She came with a built-in surround system that projected her high-pitched, nasal screams some several kilometres. She whinged and winced and cried and was always wanting or needing something from me. I became a walking, talking zombie. 

I feared every minute of the day. When she was asleep I feared when she would wake up, when she was awake I feared what was coming next. I became manic. Unhinged. Anxious. I was consumed, unhealthily.

My postnatal depression was still not diagnosed and I started to resent her. It did not take long.

Not because of my broken vagina or because of my stretch marks or the sleepless nights, but because she was taking my sanity. She was demanding and unreasonable. There was no pleasing her.

I was so overwhelmed by all these emotions I never expected to feel, that I couldn't help comparing how I felt about her to the way I loved her brother. Who had ever heard of a mother resenting her child?

Time flew by and my little girl was talking and walking by 10 months. I was still as manic and crazy, just as she was still unpredictable and demanding. She wanted to attempt climbing playgrounds and monkey bars while other kids her age sat in their prams content, eating crackers. 

From 12 months old she was always in my makeup, destroying it. It wasn’t until last week when I was on the phone to one of my sisters telling her about a fresh delivery of foundation I had just received and we joked about how long it would last that she gave me the idea to hide it. And so I did, I stashed it in a hat in a bag in my wardrobe. My daughter left nothing in the house untouched or unturned.  

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She did not understand no. We didn’t understand each other, she and I. The resentment was still present, and I found it hard to give my all to her. I also couldn’t give anything to myself. I didn’t deserve anything. How can a mother resent her child? How could any mother have such negative feelings towards their child?

Again, as it does, time again flew by. She is six now. It has been a little while since the resentment started to fade and disappeared. In fact, I have not thought about it until last night when as I opened my eyes in the shower, a shower that I snuck into for a moment of silence. There she stood - she always finds me.

She was naked, with her shower cap on and a face full of foundation. I didn’t even hear her come into the bathroom or open the shower door. Confused, I asked her where she found the make-up. 

“Easy Mum. I found it in a bag in one of the hats in your wardrobe.” 

Something was different though.  While the moment was familiar, it didn't trigger any of the old feelings. I giggled. 

It could be the medication I've started taking, but I think it is also because now we understand each other. Not all the time, but most. I know this will change; I know as the years continue to roll on and my little girl becomes a young woman we will continually need to evolve our understanding of each other, but for now we are doing ok. Better than ok. We're besties.

See, I have come to learn that my daughter’s tenacity far supercedes any caution, something I am trying to hone slowly. Her belief in her own ability is beyond anything I could have instilled in her. Her heart of gold is unlike any other person I know.

She doesn’t walk past any flower without picking it and giving it to me. Parents at school send me texts to thank me for the comfort or help she offered their children that day, and when I question her about it she shrugs it off. I still tell her how proud I am of her. I’m proud of the way she loves, of the way she thinks about others, of the way she learnt to ride a bike in an afternoon.

I watch her zoom around the house on her roller skates as she Facetimes her prep friends to catch up with them, as lockdown 2.0 has her bored. I yell after her as I pick up her wrappers and crumbs. I look at her puzzled, wondering how such a kind, loving, happy child is the product of a mother who at times resented her for the first few years of her life. In this world there is no one who loves me more.

She continues to push boundaries and test my patience and sanity. There is no reasoning with her. She still doesn’t leave anything in the house unturned.

She still doesn’t understand no. She mimics the actions of a tornado. She leaves remnants. Nothing is the same after she gets a hold of it. I am definitely not.

She is my moon and my stars. My blue skies, my sunshine.

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association. You can find their website here or call their helpline – 1300 726 306.

Gina is 33 and lives in Melbourne with her husband and two kids. 

Feature image: Getty.

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