I knew it was coming.
I had prepared myself for the moment it would be yelled at me across a room or screamed at my back as I was walking out of the door. I have joked about it with almost every other parent I know. In my head I know it's typical and even textbook for children as they learn that their desires and opinions aren't the only ones that matter. As limits and boundaries are made clear and they can't do as they please all the time. It is healthy and normal, and usually a sign that good parenting has been done.
And yet it hurt.
She didn't shout it angrily or even set her chin defiantly as the words came out of her mouth. She said it under her breath as she turned her head and refused to look at me.
"You are a mean person, Mama".
Oooh. I guess I thought it would be the typical "you are a mean Mama" or even simply "you are mean!". I wasn't expecting a holistic attack on my personhood. That girl is only 3.5 years old and already knows where I am vulnerable.
I picked her up and strapped her into her seat without a word. We avoided each other's eyes and I closed the door without my usual demand for a kiss. I stood outside the car and breathed for a minute. I had done the right thing and wasn't doubting the consequence I had given her that prompted her comment but man, that exact moment felt shitty.
This parenting gig is not for the faint of heart. Somehow that little angry comment from my darling daughter was more painful then all of the kicks in the shin I have gotten at other points in life. Maybe because those people weren't as dear to me. Maybe because I want her to know at all times that I have her best interest at heart and am trying to teach her how to be a decent human being.
Maybe this is just the start of many years of being unjustly accused and I just need to wait for her valedictorian address when she thanks her Mama for always being there for her.
Because, my stubborn little yellow fairy dress wearing, grocery cart stealing, cheese grabbing, stickers in your hair daughter, I will always be there for you.
Mean or otherwise.