This is the first post of a blog series that will discuss topics no one talks about.
I remember our birth class teacher telling us that is was okay to lie our baby down, shut the door and go into a different room when the baby wouldn’t stop crying. At the time it was hard for me to imagine why I would need to do that.
And then, I had a baby who cried and cried for hours non-stop.
He cried when he woke up, he cried when he went to sleep, he cried in the car, he cried when I walked in the door from work. Every Tuesday he cried for 8 hours straight. It was like being in a torture chamber and having no way out.
He needed me constantly. I couldn’t cook, clean, or get ready without him wanting me or needing me. If I couldn’t attend to him, he cried.
I was so anxious and stressed during that time, that six years later I am working through PTSD and resentment in hopes it doesn’t interfere with our relationship.
Before I had kids I remember judging people who yelled at their kids in public or degraded them in any way. I couldn’t imagine how they could do that to their own children.
Then I became a stay at home mom. All of those years of exhaustion and resentment from my first born compiled into me bursting at the seams as a stay at home mom.
I didn’t have anything left in me. When my kids behaved, we were great. When we were around other people, we were great.
When we were alone and they misbehaved, I generally lost all control over my emotions and temper. I had some days where I was patient and felt like the best mom, but for the majority of the time I was not proud of my behavior.
I remember telling a friend who didn’t have kids at the time that I understood why people who were drug addicts, alcoholics or mentally unstable ended up on the news for hurting their children.
I was considered mentally stable and I had a hard time controlling my emotions, anger outbursts and hurtful words.
My kids behavior started to depict my own and I didn’t like what I saw. And the sad thing is, I thought I was alone. I was so ashamed of myself for the things I said and the way I behaved. I thought I must be the only “normal” mom struggling with this.
People tell you to cherish those years, which just made me feel worse about myself. How could I cherish those years when I felt so alone, so ashamed, so frustrated at myself, so defeated, so helpless? It completely drained my mental, emotional and physical energy.
I knew if I didn’t make changes, I was going to have a mental breakdown or get physically aggressive with my kids.
The more I opened up, the more I realized I wasn’t alone and my healing began. I have talked to so many moms and parents out there struggling in silence for fear of what might happen or what someone might think of them. They think they are the only ones who have negative/bad thoughts toward their children. For fear that if they mention a negative incident to someone, their kids might be taken away.
I am not referring to your typical bad/neglectful parent that you hear about on the news. I am talking about good people. We are talking about people who want to be good parents. Who have a desire to be calm and patient. People who want the best for their children. People who have wanted children their entire lives and adore their children. People who love their children dearly.
And yet, they can’t find a way out of it because they are struggling quietly. They are seeing the highlight reels on social media wondering why everyone else has it together.
This is why we hear sad stories on the news. Why moms walk away from their families. You can only take so much. You can only struggle in silence for so long.
I have yet to find one parent who denies wanting to hurt their child at some point. That doesn’t mean they act upon it, but the guilt of those thoughts are very, very heavy. Especially, when kept bottled up. Especially, when you feel alone and ashamed.
The only way we create support and help families flourish is by creating a safe space to struggle.