I'm thinking that my friend from Running Out of Hands can sympathize here. I've heard her often comment on how she struggles with her middle child, R*, and her difficulties in liking him very much sometimes.
I often feel the same way about L. Sometimes he is great. Other times, not. He seems to go through these "phases" of being utterly and incredibly annoying to me.
I think our personalities clash. That must be part of the problem. He can be so rude and obnoxiously snarky at times, and it builds over time. I won't notice it so much at first, but it gets worse and worse over time until I'm like, hey, how come I'm letting him talk to me like that?? Then I have to harp at him over and over again for a week or so, punishing him and telling him off until he stops and goes back to being a little more meek and humble. Boy that sounds dictatorial, doesn't it? But I can't have my kid talking to me like I'm his equal, his peer. I'm his mother, for goodness sake!
So then I put this kid to bed at night, and he cries. He tells me he feels like no one likes him, that everybody hates him. And then I feel so guilty. And angry. Both, at the same time. There's the mother (guilt) part of me that is saying, "You made him feel this way! Aren't you ashamed of yourself? You should only ever make him feel nothing but loved!"
And then there's the normal, human (angry) part of me saying,"You're kidding me, right? Kid, you don't KNOW what it feels like to be unloved and hated!! How can you be so ungrateful for all you have? You seriously need a life lesson!"
DH says he and I are too alike. I disagree. I don't know where he gets this from. He says L pushes all the right buttons on me. I won't disagree with that.
So I go to bed that night and tell myself that I promise, I really, really will try very hard to be a better, more patient and understanding mother tomorrow. And I will, but it's so hard sometimes.