I have a secret to tell you. Are you ready? I’m going to whisper it so no one else hears. I’m a little embarrased about it, so I’m saying it really quietly.

You ready?

Okay, here goes:

Some days I don’t really like my kids.

It feels awful and evil to say that, but it’s true. Kids can sometimes behave in ways that are, frankly, kind of hard to love.

And yet, we continue to love them, because that’s what a parent does. The unconditional love from a parent to a child is able to withstand behavior that we would never put up with in a relationship of our own choosing.

I mean, think about it:

Would you still be friends with someone who tried all of your lipsticks and then ground them into the carpet, and showed no remorse?

Would you have dated a guy who demanded you fix him all of his meals, didn’t clean up after himself, and threw himself on the floor in a screaming fit every time he didn’t get his way? (okay, on second thought, don’t answer that question).

Would you continue a relationship with a grown adult who trashed your car and wrote on your sofa in permanent marker?

Let’s face it, kids can try our patience, and even the best of moms will, on certain days, be challenged to like her offspring. And this is where love gets challenging. Because at the end of the day, love is often a choice. We choose to love when our kids vomit on us in a plane, by cleaning them up before ourselves. We choose to love when our infant wakes us up in the middle of the night, for the fifth time, and just wants some comfort. We choose to love when we answer the 27th question about spiderman in a two-minute car ride.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. And sometimes, all of those choices culminate and reward us with an overwhelming feeling of love for our child. Like when they say “I love you” unprompted. Or snuggle into our arms at the end of the day.

Lately, my kids have been in a stage that has been a little, er, challenging. There are some days when I feel like they are conspiring together to find new ways to wear me down. On those days, I make it a point to cuddle with them a little longer at bedtime, to “bring back that lovin’ feeling”.

On really bad days, I go into their room after their asleep, and just look at them in their peaceful and sleeping cuteness, to remind myself how much I love these crazy kids of mine. Sometimes it’s the little boost I need to remember what precious creatures they are.

Even when they decorate the bathroom floor with an entire tube of toothpaste.