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Hate being a mother - help!!

38 replies

Lulu41 · 12/02/2003 09:50

I am currently having a real problem with my relationship with Ds I do not seem to break out of a horrible cyle whereby I am constantly sniping at him, policing his every move and generally being "nasty" his word not mine. He is only 5 and I am so worried he will end up hating me. Every day I try to stay calmer be nicer etc etc but am finding it very difficult to maintain. I know we all have our off days but what do you do when you seem to have too many?? Any help suggestions would be greatly received.

OP posts:
oxocube · 12/02/2003 10:16

Hi Lulu41. What a horrible situation to be in. At least,IMO, you have identified your relationship as a 'problem' which seems the first step to breaking the cycle. How exactly are you 'nasty' to your d.s? Is it just nagging/moaning (I'm sure we are all guilt of that!) or is there more to it?

I know I sometimes have days when all I seem to do is find fault with everyone and everything, but then, luckily, the mood changes and I have a laugh with the kids and tell them how wonderful they are.

Are you happy generally? I ask because I know its really difficult sometimes to cope with the demands of little kids if you are worried or stressed. Are there other issues which are making you unhappy but which you are not addressing? Are you a SAHM and if so, do you have a friend or family member who can help you out if you feel it is all getting too much? Also, have you talked to your DH/DP about your relationship with your son?

Lots of questions here and not many answers! Sorry about that. It can be hard being a mum, I know, but I guess its no fun either being a child who feels 'got at' all the time. Hope other mums can come up with more practical advice. Good luck xx

expatkat · 12/02/2003 10:25

Lulu, I really can sympathize. But helpful suggestions--I don't know. I live in a Sure Start catchment area where they run workshops for mums at the end of their ropes. If you don't have that, I think you can ask your HV to refer you for so-called family counselling, which sounds much more serious than it actually is. (I think you just go and have a chat with someone once or twice and get some pointers.) I haven't yet felt that things have gotten quite bad enough to pursue either of those options, but I always keep them in the back of my mind. Even though it may sometimes seem you are surrounded by Perfect Mums, you are not alone!

aloha · 12/02/2003 10:47

Lulu, there are organisations that offer parenting classes, and I think these can have incredible results in increasing the happiness of your family life. It's not a mark of failure to go - just as it's not to read a book about parenting. I think they also offer a lot of support from other parents who are in the same position as yourself. Think of it a similar to taking a training course at work - it doesn't mean you can't do your job, more than you want to develop yourself as a person and as a worker. Where are you in the country - I may be able to find a link for you. I also think Sure Start may be a great help for you - and your HV or local drs surgery is the place to find information on that. I think it is wonderful you want to improve things with your son. I know I enjoy my ds more when I go out a lot with him, spend time with other adults and am lucky that I work three days a week so get time to myself to waste on mumsnet!

Lulu41 · 12/02/2003 10:48

I am not a SAHM I work full time. I suppose the nagging/moaning thing is pretty much daily. We do have good times but I feel I am so hard on him most of the time as he has gotten older ie. I feel I have to lecture him all the time about behaving at school, listening to me and I generally feel like a grouch, I hark back to when he was little and I was such a loving mother now that appears to have disappeared, dont get me wrong he gets lots of kisses and cuddles and when I know I am being unreasonable I do tell him I am sorry for being so grumpy. I am expecting number 2 which has something to do with the general mood - I have felt fairly rough but am starting to feel physically better but its like I am a record that has got stuck with Ds and so want to improve things. I dont know whether I would want to my HV or publically admit that I feel like such a horrible mother though!!!

OP posts:
tigermoth · 12/02/2003 11:01

lulu, I sometimes cringe when I listen to myself talking to my 8 year old ds. It seems one long stream of don'ts and put downs.

This is a small tip, but it might help when you feel like a cracked record - whatever you say to your ds, end on a positive note. ie 'no we can't see that film today, so stop asking me, but maybe we can go next week' or 'why did you ignore your teacher when she told you to put your shoes on after PE? - you were really good getting ready for school this morning'

I do this lots and I think it helps me break the nagging cycle.

Sorry you are feeling like a 'nasty' mother. However another thing to remember - and remind your ds also - is that what was OK for him to do at 3 is less OK now he's a bigger boy. You expect more of him but he has, perhaps, a little more freedom and fun than a toddler ie no reins or high chair and lots of big boy toys.


RushingAround · 12/02/2003 11:28

Lulu41, you are not the only one! I also have a 5yo ds (and a 2yo dd).

I was horrible to both of them this morning because they were dawdling getting ready etc etc, and the stress at the time (and afterwards with the guilt) is awful. I've sometimes thought, oh no, this will be what my ds will remember when he looks back on his childhood, not the fun good times we have most of the time, but his mother yelling at him.

After a 'scene' I always try and apologise for shouting, and explain why I got so angry - I Always want to say goodbye at school with him in a happy mood, or to say goodnight in the same way. I tell him that I get tired too, or that we all have to work together in the mornings to leave on time. And we move on - until the next time...

Someone lent me a book recently called Raising Boys, and it was talking about this age of 5-6: they are still their mother's boys up to now, but are beginning to want to branch out and be like their dads - or any other male role model. Maybe as mothers we can feel this, we want them still to be our darling little boy, yet we want them to act their age. I don't know!

For you, being pg is a big strain, so don't be too hard on yrself. Also working (I work p/t). If you're really losing control, go into another room (the classic advice) - I did that this morning and said the F word about 50 times - then I caught sight of myself in a mirror, and had to laugh! (DH is away this week, and that's part of my problem at the mo'!)

Anyhow, take care, and enjoy the good times with your ds...

Marina · 12/02/2003 12:17

Lulu, agree that Raising Boys has lots of good ideas, simply put, for helping us women understand the mentality of the small boy. Ours is rising 4 and full of non-cooperative cheek at crucial times like meals and baths. If you are anything like me, I miss my boy so much and look forward to the hours at the end of each day, only to find them sometimes ruined by petty squabbles over Lego monsters put into the washing machine etc. Ours is liable to howl "Nobody wants me" if he is crossed in the slightest.
I re-read Raising Boys the other week and decided to be more chilled with ds over little things, saving my volcanic temper for stuff that endangers life or property. As he is mostly a sweet little guy with a bit of a growth spurt on, the result seems to have been fewer rows and definitely better behaviour from him. No mad scenes from mummy = no point in playing up. I have to say dh is still working on this (he should do his own reading instead of just getting the digest from me, or pleading, "Can't you just ask Mumsnet?".
Does your ds know a brother or sister is on the way? At this age, they can take you aback with the kindness and sensitivity of their responses.
You sound like you're doing all the right things in terms of physical affection and explaining why you were cross. We're all much better mums than we think!

anais · 12/02/2003 23:04

Lulu41, I was HORRIBLE when I was pregnant for the second time, even though it wasn't a particularly difficult pregnancy.

I know it sounds obvious, but I find I am most grumpy when I'm tired, or stressed at trying to do too many things at once. Pregnancy's a huge change for your body, even if we choose not to acknowledge it these days. Give yourself a break, try to relax and spend some of that much quoted "quality time" with your ds.

Oh, and I agree about saving the arguments for the things that matter.

ScummyMummy · 12/02/2003 23:36

Hi Lulu,

Sorry to hear things are feeling so bad. I do agree with the others that you are far from alone here and it does sound like you may be being a bit hard on yourself. After all, full-time work, pregnancy and parenthood aren't exactly easy and we all make frequent mistakes and don't act as the parents we'd like to be sometimes. Also agree that there may be useful strategies, support and understanding to be gained from a parenting course and/or a book such as the Biddulph one, if either of those would float your boat at all. Unfortunately the Sure-Start option wouldn't be open to your boy as he is over 4 but a doctor, health visitor or even your son's school may be able to recommend a course in your area.

I hope this doesn't sound too simplistic or annoying, but something I've learned about recently and found really helpful in terms of breaking problems down a bit when feeling stuck or overwhelmed is to think about a "scale" from 0 to 10 (0 is rock bottom and 10 is a miracle!) and decide where you are on that scale in relation to the problem. Say you feel that you are low on the scale- a 2 or 3 perhaps?- with regard to how you and your son are getting on. Well, how does that compare to how you have felt in the past? What is the highest you have ever been on the scale? What is the lowest you have ever been on the scale? If you are at a 2 and have in the recent past been at a 1, what changed to get you from 1 to 2? What did you do that worked? What did your son do differently? What did your husband/partner do that helped? What chances and circumstances worked to push you up the scale? Knowing this, what do you need to do to get yourself from a 2 to a 3 on the scale- could you repeat some of the stuff that helped you to get from 1 to 2? Is there another small change you could make that might help you feel that one point higher on the scale? Or, if you were previously higher up the scale, say you have gone from a 3 to a 2, what were you/son/partner/circumstances doing then that made things better than they are now? Could you start to do them again, step by step?

I like this framework and find it can be helpful because it's based on a really simple idea- do more of what works for your family and less of what doesn't work- but breaks things down a bit so you can really think about WHAT does and doesn't work. It also posits that YOU DO have the resources to crack this, though it will take time... after all, you probably haven't always felt that you were a 0 on the scale, have you? If you've been higher in the past you can get there again- by working out the little steps to make the climb. Obviously things will fluctuate because there are always bad days and worse days and good days and better days but you've proved you have the capacity to do it. Even if you feel that you have always been at 0 on the scale you must have some great personal and family resources because it is shit feeling at rock bottom for an extended period of time and if you're managing to struggle through you must be pretty amazing and strong.

Anyway, hope all this doesn't sound too airy fairy and rubbish- I really have found it useful sometimes. Please just ignore it if that's the case! Also hope things improve one way or another Lulu, and lots of luck and love to you and your family.

tomps · 12/02/2003 23:54

The book "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" is VERY american, but does report successes with situations such as you describe. Good luck whatever you do

WideWebWitch · 13/02/2003 00:23

lulu, I have this book and wasn't keen but if you think it might be useful I could send it to you - you're welcome to it free. I can't sell it on Amazon because I wrote some facetious comments in one of the exercise sections email me at [email protected] if you're interested.

Me2 · 13/02/2003 08:17

Hiya lulu41 (I have changed my nickname for this thread), I just wanted you to know you are not alone. I love both my children but some days don't want to be near my eldest (4) if the eldest comes for a kiss or cuddle i don't want to know even though I still do give a kiss and cuddle. I think it doesn't help that the eldest is very naughty and obnoxious aswell sometimes. When the eldest is asleep I'm overcome with love and can cry thinking about the way I feel, I do love my two but sometimes think that I do not like the 4 year old someimes, if you know what I mean.

Lulu41 · 13/02/2003 10:08

Thank you all for your support and messages and Me2 I know exactly know what you mean some days I can barely look at my son but other times my heart bursts with love. I have got couple of the books already mentioned and will aim to re-read them. I know I have a lot on my plate at the moment ie. work, pregnancy juggling that with looking after ds and I dont necessarily feel that I wont to go down the HV, doctor course route right now. I was extra nice last night to ds but again this morning he had a paddy like a 3 year old threw himself on the floor and my shackles rose straight away but did manage to make up before he went to school instead of seething all morning and then feeling guilty for being so cross. One day at a time I suppose!!!

OP posts:
Demented · 13/02/2003 11:05

Was going to call myself Me3 and anonymously contribute to this thread but here goes. I could have written Me2's post, I find my 4 year old son very difficult, he has always been difficult even as a baby, a paediatrician has told me that he is a "child with his own agenda", strong personality and strong will.

I wasn't going to post on this thread but this morning's incident has made me own up that many time I cannot cope with my 4 year old either. This morning I was passing the livingroom door to pick up the mail when DS1 asked me to take DS2 (8 months) away from some toy of DS1's that he was grabbing, I said just a second, big mistake. I walked into the next room, passing mail to DH and opening a letter addressed to me when I heard a crash followed by DS2 screaming. DH and I ran into the livingroom to find DS2 on the floor in front of the chair, DS1's tale is that DS2 (who can't even pull himself up yet) climbed up onto the chair and then fell off. DS1 is at this moment sitting watching a DVD as I am finding it hard to have any positive feeling towards him at all at the moment. I know he is only little and perhaps it is something to do with my hormones as I just want to protect DS2.

At times I find DS1 intensly irritating. I have tried mentioning this to my HV but she just thinks I am being funny and laughs. I swing between thinking there is a problem to thinking he is just a very lively determined boy who at times I have a personality clash with only it just seems so wrong to have a personality clash with your own child. On the otherhand reading these posts perhaps these feelings are fairly normal.

I know I do love him to bits and am in tears now just writing this, perhaps this is just a bad day.

tigermoth · 13/02/2003 12:11

demented, I too have felt that intense irritation with my oldest ds while wanting to protect my baby ds.

I remember when my youngest son was born and my oldest son, aged five and a half, came bounding into the ward to have his first look. He just seemed so big, so loud, so all over the place and so impossible to calm down. I found myself recoiling from my own son. Really, if I am honest, for the first year of my youngest son's life there were times when I just wanted my youhgest ds and I to be alone and at peace. Sometimes the sheer presence of my oldest was enough to create tension and chaos. He didn't have to be badly behaved to make me feel cross. I was lucky in that the two boys got on so well most of the time. My oldest ds really wanted a baby brother and was like an enthusiastic puppy around him.

As the youngest passed that first year, and grew stronger, more mobile, more expressive, and needed my physical protection less and less, the feelings of annoyance with my oldest ds receded till they were not a problem. I'm sure it was my natural instinct to protect my baby that caused them.

I don't know if this helps, but thought I'd post this in the hope that things will seem different when your baby is older.

Me2 · 13/02/2003 18:25

Tigermoth you also said something that struck a deep chord with me, i am very very protective of my youngest who is not yet one. My youngest has been ill and I think that makes me worse. I have just read over my previous post on this thread and i truly do sound like a horrible horrible person saying that I do not like my own child. Hopefully, Tigermoth as you said these feeling may subside and dissappear when my youngest is less dependent, if I get presents for the youngest I don't want to buy the other as I know sometimes it is not appreciated but I always do. I daren't even bring up these feelings to my husband he would be disgusted and go absolutely ballistic (could even split us up) so I have to suffer in silence and not let these feelings show.
I can start off the day being really nice thinking, no shouting today and then the eldest does or says something which is known to be naughty and then that is it, my mood is set for the day.

anais · 13/02/2003 21:18

I just want to echo Lulu41's comment about taking things a day at a time. Better still an hour at a time. Don't let a bad start ruin the day. Try and treat each situation as a separate incident and don't be so hard on yourself.

anais · 13/02/2003 21:19

Urghhh, I apologise, that sounds so self-righteous.

Demented · 13/02/2003 23:38

Thanks from me too Tigermoth. I think you could be right, my older DS, as I said, has always been a handful but these feelings are more recent, probably starting from my pregnancy with DS2. I feel I am tired most of the time and it does upset me that I do not have the same time and energy to spend on DS1, taking him swimming and to the park etc, we also moved house recently which I think has taken more out of me than I will admit to myself.

I do love him, in fact I am starting to go all that daft way about him, because he is tucked up in his bed like a little angel.

I am sure you are right that when DS2 becomes less dependant things will balance out. Thanks Tigermoth!

All the best Lulu41 and Me2!

titchy · 17/02/2003 11:17

Have you tried the old reward system - i.e. star charts, pocket money etc, and simply ignoring bad behaviour? (Easily said than done I know!). We used to have nightmare getting dd (4) ready for pre-school in the mornings till I made a star chart and now she cleans her own teeth, has a wash and gets dressed by herslef, and starts to get ready when I say so. This only took a week, but before that we had months of 'in a minute', 'when I've finished playing', 'don't want to' etc whcih always ended with me shouting and/or smacking. She has just had her first reward for 10 stars and is working towards the next reward.

Maybe if you can try and work out what specifically you end up naggin him about this might help. Don't boys also go through a testosterone surge at 4 or 5 which makes their behaviour generally much worse. Coupled with pregnancy hormones this much be really difficult to deal with.


anto · 26/02/2003 14:29

I know that my cousin went on a couple of parenting courses when her 3 kids were young, but she was living in Hong Kong at the time. Anyone know of any positive parenting courses? I really feel like I need a few pointers at the moment - am 34 weeks pregnant and finding it incredibly hard to cope with my 2.4 yr old, who is playing up like crazy some days. I am just full of aches and pains and self-pity and she knows just how to wind me up. Added to this we have the builders in so I am surrounded by hammering and crashing and making endless cups of tea...

I've already been in tears in the street today. We went for a walk to the letterbox and first dd had a tantrum because I wouldn't let her jump in a big muddy horrible puddle (it hasn't rained for over a week so it was a horrible smelly stagnant pool full of crap) and then she decided she wanted to stop and get in the buggy while we were actually crossing a road. When I nicely and gently told her she had to wait till we were on the kerb before climbing in she lay down on the floor and kicked and screamed and howled right in the middle of the road. Luckily just a small road and there were no cars around but it was so awful and in the end I roughly dragged her along the ground (a bit hampered by huge bump) till we got to the pavement and I managed to maneouvre both her and the buggy onto the kerb. I then left her kicking and screaming on the ground and stood there crying myself and wondering why at the moment everything seems to end in a scene. I felt so low and that I was just not cut out to be a mother and that anyone else would be able to handle these situations better than me and that she and the new baby would be better off with a nice level-headed nanny to look after them and that after the baby arrives I might as well leave my family and vanish off to live abroad somewhere because I feel like I am doing a rubbish job! So we both were sobbing away, her on the floor and me standing by the buggy, till some man came along the road and we were all 3 of us embarrassed! Then dd had another terrible tantrum when we got in because we didn't pass a bin on the way home for her to put her apple-juice straw into!!!!!! God give me strength!

GeorginaA · 26/02/2003 14:50

anto you poor thing you sound like you had a horrendous day!

I've recently been on a course called "From Pram to Primary School" which is aimed at kids from birth to age six/seven by the Family Caring Trust . It was organised by our local nursery school (who also do a mother and baby drop-in centre which is excellent).

I was a bit dubious that I'd learn anything useful before I went (am a bit of a parenting bookaholic) but I found it really helpful and much more practical than just reading advice in a book (which is easy to agree you should be doing but so difficult to put into practise in my experience!). It was also very helpful getting support from the other parents there and realising that you're not the only one who has really bad days and feels like a terrible parent.

Would be worth checking with your health visitor/local nursery school/local children's information service to see if there's one (or something similar) running in your area. Alternatively, the Family Caring Trust (link above) might be able to put you in contact with someone running the course in your area.

Here's hoping you get a run of much better days in the very near future!

Rhubarb · 26/02/2003 22:19

I haven't posted on this before but have been reading the comments with great interest. I love dd very much but often find it very difficult being a mother too. For instance, I have a very bad temper, which isn't too bad when it's just me and dh, but now that I have a daughter, I find I am losing it with her too. In fact, I am convinced that I am slowly turning into my mother! I don't deal with mithering very well, and if I am stressed anyway, and something happens that just pushes me over the edge, I turn into a screaming PMT monster. I have reduced dd to tears on many occasions because of my needless eruptions, and that is something I am not proud of at all.
Then the NSPCC comes out with a whole range of new adverts about parents losing it, just to make us all feel better! I know it's wrong, I shouldn't do it, but can anyone honestly say that they never react out of anger sometimes? There is enough pressure on us parents as it is, without the NSPCC rubbing it in. They have a point, of course they do. But we are not all saints, we are just bloody human. I just hate the way we as parents (and mothers in particular) are meant to act with love and patience at all times, raise perfect bright children, make home-cooked bread and tasty home-grown food, spend all your free time with your children, encouraging them and nurturing them, being their best friend .... and what do you mean you lock yourself in the bathroom every now and then to read the newspaper in peace! How selfish of you! Sorry to go on but that's just how society makes me feel sometimes. And for all you mothers out there who think you are terrible, well just look around you, can you point to a perfect mother at all? But if there is to be a 'terrible mother' club, I'm right in there!

anais · 26/02/2003 22:54

Rhubarb, I think the NSPCC are talking about a bit more than a child being yelled at.

Clarinet60 · 26/02/2003 23:09

I went on that, GeorgianaA, and it was very helpful. It was run by my HV. There are coping strategies in it that you might not have thought of before and it just gives you extra back-up.

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