Yesterday was the first time. The first time Autumn said, “Mama, I don’t like you.” At least I was holding her when she said it. At least she didn’t say, “Mama, I hate you.” (She doesn’t know that word anyway or this may have not gone as well.) She often tells me, “Mama, you’re my best friend” but not today, not this time.
We were all sitting at Top Pot downtown with our friend Frank chatting while Autumn played with her animals at an adjoining table. She came back to the table, began crumbling up the donut she barely touched. She was done hanging out, she was tired and she was ready to go home and get a stuffed cat to play with her stuffed dog. I asked her to stop but she began to shake it all over. I tried to pry the clumping donut out of her hand. She started to cry. I think she may have gotten embarrassed in front of her special friend Frank.
I said, “Come here.” And I held her in my lap like a baby because I could feel what she was feeling. She looked up at me and said, (I’ll write it again just to prove it didn’t really bother me) “Mama, I don’t like you.” It didn’t bother me because I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t feeling out of control, I was holding her in my arms looking right into her robin-egg blue eyes and rocking her back and forth. It also didn’t bother me because I knew she didn’t really mean it and was just expressing her embarrassment and felt safe enough to say it to me with our faces so close. My retort was, “Well, I love you, Autumn.” Our first time and it didn’t even hit any buttons.
She fell asleep on the way home, I knew she was so tired. When she woke up which was late in the evening, her dad was out with friends and the two of us made a doll for our friend Violet’s birthday party today. We picked out fabric, sorted buttons and stitched away on the couch so close we could feel each others breath. Mid-stitch, she leaned over, looked up into eyes, patted my leg and said, (for the first time ever) “You’re a good Mama.” I could see in her face that she was thinking about what she said earlier even though I had never brought it back up and that she was saying she was sorry in her own way.
I’ll always love you Autumn even after you learn that the word “hate” exists.