The Secret of Losing My Sh*t: Parenting Tips for Parenting Challenges

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son

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It recently came to my attention that people are under the impression that since I practice gentle parenting techniques with my son that I always remain calm. When I told my husband that I suspected people were thinking this he laughed and said “I wish they were here last Saturday, that was a real stomp-fest,” referring to the way I stomped around the house annoyed at Jack’s incessant whining. No, my friend, I do not remain calm all the time. I don’t even know if I remain calm most of the time. My buttons are pushed about 75 times a day (as any mother) and I feel on the edge of losing my shit about 67 of those times. I believe strongly in being as gentle a mama as I can, but I am a human being not a robot. So, let me clear the air.

Being an attached mom is hard. Being a mom, any kind of mom, no matter how you slice it, is hard. Becoming a mother has pushed me to my limits in ways that I have never experienced. I used to think being a waitress was the hardest job ever. Then I thought working the floor at the residential facility with aggressive teenagers was the hardest job ever. Now I am quite sure that being a mother is the hardest job ever. I know my mind will never change on this. This is the ultimate. Even harder than a job where you have no idea when a punch to face or a chair to head is going to happen. For example, Jack has a difficult time falling asleep which requires me to put him in the sling, breastfeed, sing and dance around the house for about an hour before each nap and bedtime. Sometimes I can get a good song going or daydream about getting drunk or writing a blog post, but there are times when it takes all of my energy not to scream. And a few times I have screamed. Bouncing and dancing and singing and dancing and bouncing. No bathroom break, no dinner, no back up, no training, no sitting, no shot of Tequila at the end of the shift. Being a mother has you “on” in a way that is indescribable to anyone not a mother. It’s a constant battle to remain calm and put Jack’s needs first.

The path toward losing my temper begins when I allow my thoughts to go down the route of “why does this have to happen to me?” “Why can’t I get this baby to sleep?” “I must be a horrible mother.” “I must be doing something wrong.” “Why did I have to get the difficult baby?” “How come no one else goes through this?” If you know a bit about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy you’ll know that we believe that our thoughts affect our feelings which in turn affect our behavior. The above thoughts open the door for feelings of frustration, overwhelm, anger, self-pity, anxiety, and so on. These feelings can then lead to choosing negative behaviors. Everyone has a unique set of behaviors that they exhibit when they “go too far.” This is all going to vary from person to person and situation to situation, but for me as a mother dealing with Jack I struggle with managing my urge to yell, stomp and slam things. For many people this can include physical abuse, verbal abuse or neglect. The way you were raised and saw your parent’s behave is a strong base for what you might struggle with as the parent.

Our thoughts have an astounding influence on how we live our lives, how we treat people, how we feel about ourselves and ultimately how we deal with our children. I guarantee you that any situation you are in where you feel negative feelings you can trace them back to negative thoughts. Learning to recognize negative thoughts can be difficult at first, but it becomes second nature quickly if you practice. Learning how to challenge those thoughts is the most effective way to change the way we feel. When we can change the way we think and feel it is reflected in the more positive and productive behaviors we choose.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding and babywearing.

In the example above where I am trying to get Jack to sleep my first mistake is to allow these negative thoughts to exist without challenge. I, like any therapist worth their salt, have been through therapy. I have explored my patterns of negative thinking (or thinking errors) and how to challenge these thoughts to help me feel better and choose behaviors that will help me reach my goals. It is key to recognize these thoughts as they begin to happen so that I can challenge them right away. Negative thought: “I am a horrible mother.” Challenge: “There is no evidence that I am a horrible mother. I am just struggling right now and I can get through this.” Negative thought: “I must be doing something wrong.” Challenge: “I am trying my best and that is all Jack needs. My love and nurturing is what Jack needs.” Often I let the negative thoughts go on too long and I become frustrated. I can feel my heart pound. I begin to blame Jack for being difficult. I think about how I just want to punch a wall or kick a door. A couple of times I have yelled “Oh my god!” or “I don’t know what you want!” or “Go to sleep Jack!” I think about putting Jack in another room to cry alone. This is where it stops for me. The very thought of that makes me sick to my stomach. I can usually bring myself back to reality from here. At this point I spend a bit of time shaming myself for thinking/doing these things. “You are not gentle. You are a liar, an imposter. You don’t deserve to call yourself gentle.” Of course, the only thing we can do to move on is let ourselves off the hook and promise to do better next time.

Some of my favorite things to think at this point are “Jack is not giving me a hard time, Jack is having a hard time.” “I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.” “It’s not about me, get your shit together, stop being the baby, woman up and be the mother.” “He is scared, confused and helpless. He needs me.” “Someday I will regret treating these moments like a burden.” “On my death bed I will wish I could hold Jack again so I should try to enjoy this moment.” “I am a good mother meeting Jack’s needs.” “I believe in meeting all of Jack’s needs and I can do it.” “At least I am not at that horrible old job I had.” I might count to ten, try deep breathing, change the scenery, go outside, ask for help, cry or stop all together and start again awhile later.

I hope this clears the air. I do lose my temper. I do find it difficult to remain calm. It’s OK as long as I am trying, learning and wanting to be better. My parenting philosophy is gentle. I believe in allowing Jack to lead the way. I believe in keeping him close at all times. I believe in responding to all of his cries. I believe in gentle words, attachment and closeness. I have an ideal in my mind that I strive to attain, but it is an ideal, it is not realistic to be this way all the time. I am not perfect. I lose my patience and want to run away from it all sometimes. And I am OK with that for now. I have come a long way. So have you.

Abby Theuring, MSW


  1. Oh. My. Goodness. You just described me EXACTLY. I thought it was just me. I have depression (diagnosed and have had therapy) and I thought it was just my emotional weakness. A lot of the times, I cry right along with my daughter. She just turned a year old on August 10th and is whining ALL day long. She’ll chase me around the house clinging to me when I try to clean or cook her food. It’s constant. I also have 3 dogs and a cat that excel the annoyance of every situation. I scream at them, then mentally punish myself for losing my shit. It’s nice to have the reassurance that others go through it but can still be gentle parents. I refuse to ever let myself physically act out these feelings or let her cry it out. But man, is it a war in my head.

    • This is how I feel! And so many times people tell me, “You can’t baby him forever.” I just face palm at that point. I think, “if you look at him and use what he IS as a verb for what I can’t treat him as….I just..I don’t know.” So i continue to baby him, and lose my temper and try again and harder. I will will never be perfect so I will rinse and repeat. Nice to know there are a group of women out there who understand.

    • Omg you just described me to the T. My daughter turned 1 on Aug 26th and she clings to my leg when I’m trying to cook, clean or get anything done. My dog is always under my feet and then I yell at her, and I feel horrible about it. My dog was my baby before my baby. :(

  2. Great post, thank you!

  3. I absolutely love this! I am a new mom and MSW as well and I can relate to this on every level! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you… I so needed this today. I have been struggling with this very issue and I yell out in frustration, then beat myself up for it. You’re right, it all starts with a negative thought. Thank you for the positive words to replace those thoughts. I can’t tell you enough how on-time this post was for me. I’m happy to know that I am not alone and I hope you find comfort in knowing you are not either.

  5. Thank you for saying it is normal to feel this way sometimes. I have been wondering/struggling with resurgence of depression and wondering if I am permanently broken and incapable of mothering well. I will now challenge those thoughts as you have shown me.

    Here’s to the imperfect parent trying to show perfect love!

  6. Thank you so SO much for this. Much love.

  7. This is just what I needed to hear! I have been pushed to the MAX tonight. My four year old lost her shit at the store( we had to venture out too late to pick up meds for her baby brother) like she has never done before and two strangers had to help me get her in a cart as I was wearing her brother. I have been beating myself up for how this all happened and that I must be an awful mother. Seriously, just to hear someone else say, “being a mother is hard” and that we have all “come a long way” has just defused all of the negative thoughts I was having. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  8. I love your honesty, this is a great post. Thanks for writing it :)

  9. Thank you so much… I appreciate this post. My tough points are usually when I have my little one in the car – he does not like to be alone facing backwards in the car seat, and I don’t blame him. He’ll scream his head off and I feel so helpless. I get sad, then mad, then sad again… much like how you described. Thanks.

  10. Great, great post !!… I think every single mother are very identified with this post !!

  11. Thank you Abby! I had a nice good cry reading this, helpless in the glider with my possessed teether strapped to my chest. I think it’s time to make some mommy affirmations to post around the house.

  12. Well said Abby, as usual :)

  13. Thanks Abby, I feel the same way. Sometimes I just have to cry with my children. It can be completely overwhelming at times. You are doing a great job and I am glad to have a story to compare with lol

  14. nothing is as hard as being a mom
    there will never be any form of free will again if you love your child
    thanks for this post, needed it

  15. Wow, beautiful thoughts. I too have been there and am a product of a destructive mom so I battle with myself constantly. I am in school to be a therapist because of where I come from. I have asked myself many of those questions, then I take a breath and say, this too shall pass. They are only little once. Thank you for sharing.

  16. thank you. thank you. thank you.

  17. Thank you so much for this post! I strive to be gentle parenting mama but sometimes feel like a big ol’ failure when it isn’t all smiles and rainbows. Thank you for normalizing emotion and acknowledging that it is okay and perfectly acceptable to feel frustrated, angry; lose your shit sometimes 😉

  18. Thank you for sharing!

  19. I love this post!!

  20. Thank you. Told my husband I was going to put her in her room to cry it out the other night, then cried with guilt as I nursed her to sleep as usual in our bed. Have felt guilty until now. Thanks for the permission to let it go.

  21. Yeah, that is always how it goes, isn’t it? As soon as I slip into mental complaints the frustration just builds and builds. Recently I had mastitis which obviously sucked, but the silver lining was that I didn’t want to get up and do anything else, so nursing my little ones to sleep was suddenly so peaceful. Since then, I’ve tried to recapture that mood, with some success.

  22. thank you for writing this. it made me cry. I go thru this almost everyday and my hubby just doesnt get why i have a hard time. I have a 2 month old and a 2 yo who has special needs. sometimes i feel like i cant eat or pee or shower with out one of the 3 of us in tears. it is nice that to know i am not alone when i become frustrated with a situation.

  23. My 15 month old jax is exactly the same way! We do attachment parenting as well. I hear it all “when are you going to quit nursing?”, “are you letting him cry it out yet”, “you can’t baby him forever”, and the list goes on. His needs are met and it’s my duty to meet those needs! All babies are different just like we, as adults, are different. You can’t parent them all the same way- you parent them the way that works best for them! Thanks for writing! Wish more people would understand this concept.

  24. Here here sista, i hear you and try to let it go as berating yourself in bed at the end of the day is just as bad as yelling at the kids. I will try to practice gentle parenting on my inner most self too. Thanks x

  25. All I can say is thank you for this! This describes me to a “t”. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. I will be sharing this over and over again.

  26. I think so many parents can relate and appreciate your honesty! I have shared this with the positive parenting connection community page!

  27. Jack has the best of mothers.

  28. today was bad. it’s nice to feel less alone. I haven’t slept more than 45 minutes in a row in over 5 months. I feel like I died when I gave birth, I just lost everything. And I love her more than everything I lost, but I still have no clue who I am. The worst part for me is that I know I will miss this time when she’s older, miss her being small and smiling just b/c she sees my face, but I’m just so tired I don’t know what to do.
    other than keep putting one foot in front of the other.
    good luck to you as well.

  29. Thank you for sharing this. I can relate not just to losing my temper, but as I read about the negative thoughts and the challenges, I realized that I relate to that, too. I can think of specific times when I’ve either lost it or not depending on my thoughts alone. I feel empowered to focus on challenging my negative thoughts more consistently. So thank you.

  30. this is me. <3 good work mama

  31. Great post! Thankfully, I rarely rarely lose it with my 2 daughters. 1 is 3 weeks old the other is 18 months. The person I usually lose it with my husband. Poor guy. Thanks for a great post.

  32. Funny you should write this just now. My kids are all grown, all five of them. My oldest is 34, my youngest 22. I was thinking the other day about how frustrated I used to get and how I used to yell at my kids. Then I was trying to remember what exactly it was that triggered those moment. Being human I guess

  33. So nice to read this. Needed it!

  34. Once again, I find myself nodding and laughing along with your posts! Thank you for writing this up, for being honest, for showing other Mummies that everyone is normal! I, too, have “lost my shit” at times. There have been times (in the middle of losing it) I realize “oh my gosh.. I AM my mother.” As scary as that thought is., sometimes it is not enough to stop me in my tracks. But realizing, “this is not so bad” and “At least I have children here WHO I CAN HOLD.. for them to “misbehave.” That normally works and I find myself taking deep breaths to calm my boiling blood. (AKA losing my shit…)

    Some of my readers have come to me thinking that they are “bad moms” for losing it. They “think” other moms do not do that at all (most of the moms they think of are known Mummie bloggers.. some even thought I fit in that category!) I have told them, MOST moms do lose it at one time or MORE. Most likely if a mom tells them “Oh I never raise my voice…” then they most likely are fibbing. Which is never helpful..

    What makes us really good moms is not NOT losing our shit… but realizing we have done so and trying to make it better the next time. Making an effort to stop before it goes too far. Each mom has a different definition of “too far” and as long as we set that goal, we are even better than we were before.

    So thank you for letting other moms know that “you lose your shit” and that you are not perfect…. but I think you are pretty close to perfect just for sharing this truthful side of your “gentle parenting.” Rock On Bad Ass! You truly live up to your “name!!” :-)

    From one breastfeeding blogger to another…. ROCK YOUR BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY!!!


  35. From the bottom of my heart; Thank. You. SO. Much <3

  36. my baby girl is 36 and AP and babywearing with her baby son, and is going through much the same as you write about. oh how I remember those days myself. I find this negative behavior toward myself that I experienced all those years ago is still a bugaboo for me in how I give myself a hard time now for being a not perfect woman/employee/divorcee/mother/grandmother and I am glad you have written down your experience that so many of us think we are alone in feeling and doing. To love and forgive ourselves for being imperfect human beings is the most important task of life. Some times we need to believe we are ok when we are not because then we can keep going forward…. with life and with loving ourselves. Then we can give that love to our children and partners and our community! thanks so much for sharing – you are a wonderful example to us all. Tina

  37. Jamie Wilhelm says:

    Thank you for this…that’s all i can say right now. Just thank you!

  38. I am a single mom of a 2 month old and I totally needed this right now. THANK YOU!! I feel so much better!

  39. mom2.6 says:

    Wow, I really needed to see this post. I am a stay at home mom of 2 and one due in July (hence the 2.6). My oldest is at school but my 3 y.o. is at home with me all day long, between the pregnancy hormones and adjusting to the new culture, I have found myself “losing my shit” more often. This post gave my soe good ideas. Thanks for posting it!

  40. Amen Sister. Here I thought I was the flawed one, but judging by how far I had to scroll to write this, we are all the same. This is a beautiful struggle.

  41. I wish you were my therapist! lol I dealt with my three (ages 5,2 and newborn) while my husband was gone for over a year and when I went to the doctor after he came back and begged for help with anxiety and depression, I cited irritability with my kids as a major reason why I was seeking help. Your post describes me to a T. It is a constant battle in my head to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and when you add sleep deprivation and lack of support, just surviving the day can seem like a Herculean task. I didn’t want to be yelling at my kids all the time. First, he told me I just have too many kids, and then he called CPS saying that I might be a danger to my children because I admitted to being irritable. Even though I have never EVER been abusive to my children, just the mention of not feeling that I was at my best as a mother, started a horrible cascade of “interventions” to “save” my children from me. I have spent the last few months beating myself up, wondering what more I could possibly have done, if maybe they are right and I *am* a horrible mother. Your post is the first reassurance I’ve gotten that I’m normal and others out there also struggle. Even though we love our children and would die for them, we still struggle with meeting our own expectations of ourselves as mothers. Thank you so much for this post.

  42. Julie Blakely says:

    I know how you feel, my little guy needs to be rocked and nursed to sleep and it can take up to an hour or more for him to fall asleep. When I’m tired and had a bad day that 40 mins or so seem like the longest in the world. I get frustrated As well, but now I have a safe fraise I say when the negativity seeps in. I say “come from a place of love, Julie!” I repeat it until I feel the frustration leaves my body. This always helps and the last 20 mins until he falls asleep always seem mor enjoyable. He also fed the stress leave and falls asleep easier.

  43. Thank you so much for sharing this. Just tonight, my husband and I had a rough time with our LO. We’re not sure where she is in her teething journey, but we have a feeling it’s begun. And you’re right: AP is hard. Parenting is hard. Being gentle is hard, especially when we’ve been conditioned by past experiences to respond differently. Your post here has really touched me – and it has helped me to refocus, especially on a particularly difficult night.
    Thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  44. I know you’ve had so many thanks for this post but I have to say it too.


    I needed this so much. I could have written this myself. I don’t feel like the only one now and that feels so good.

    Yay I’m normal!

  45. You Rock 😉

    The joke around my house (with 3 AP sons 6,9,16) is “Mom is losing her shit. Watch where you step!”

    ALWAYS keep laughing. Thank You for your posts.

  46. Oooh I really love this… this is exactly me. This actually brought tears to my eyes, it’s so close to what happens so often with us. Thanks for sharing!

  47. I love this article. I have read it a few times now. My favorite line is “Jack is not giving me a hard time, Jack is having a hard time.” I have repeated this line over and over again those times when I cannot figure out why my son won’t stop crying. (Only I change Jack to Jake :) ) thank you for writing this!

  48. THANKYOU! this could t gave come at a better time for me! THANKYOU so much. This really hit close to home. And makes me feel ‘normal’.

  49. Today was really hard. My partner is on a road trip; it’s been a week, and I haven’t had any time alone except when Clea’s napping. Today, she didn’t nap. I lost it. I kicked a pillow, and then explained that a pillow is an okay thing to kick when you’re angry. I swore when she dumped a potted plant on purpose, and then she repeated it to herself continuously throughout the day. She kept looking at me and saying, “Angy! Angy!” … Yes, Clea, I’m angry. I’m tired. I need a few minutes, and I need you to sleep so I can have them. Please. God. And yet, when she looks at me with her clear eyes and names my emotion, “Angy! Feel angy!” the anger wobbles, and I apologise for my harsh tone, and tell her I’m trying really hard to be patient. And ten minutes later I’m on the verge of screaming at her again, grabbing her a little too roughly when she does the same unsafe thing four times in a row while I’m trying to get us ready to go outside where she can blow off some steam. Reading this now is so sweet… thank you for writing it. <3

  50. Thank you

  51. Thank you so, so much for this.

  52. I thought being a mother was the hardest job in the world too… until I had TWINS! So yes… being a mother is def still the hardest job in the world, but a crazy three year old and two month old ebf twins. OMG yeah I’m gonna lose it soon. Great article.

  53. Amazing post! I love it! I look forward to challenging my negative thoughts with the positive ideas you suggest! Great way to combat depression!

  54. Thank you!!!
    Hahah, I googled “I’m a mom about to lose her shit” and found this article :)

    “Someday I will regret treating these moments like a burden.” “On my deathbed I will wish I could hold Jack again so I should try to enjoy this moment.”

    Exactly what I needed to hear…

    • Kate Normand says:

      Hello! Honestly, I am sitting down crying like a baby as I read this. I have 2 under the age of 2 & several times a week I think, “Doesn’t anyone anywhere understand what I’m going through?” I am so so sorry for everyone’s pain in this. You may be very aware that these are some of the most treasured years of your life but inside each day sometimes feels so exhausting that all you can think of is running away! Now reading this, validates ME in a way that I could never put into words! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  55. Misty Lane Gray Dauley says:

    I promise this is all true. I have all teenagers now and I don’t regret one moment in the rocking chair. I wouldn’t give up even one of those every hour nursing nights.
    I promise when you parent this way you won’t regret it. I never did CIO or scheduled feedings so I can’t speak for them but I like knowing that I have no regrets, no “I wish I’d held him more” or “Maybe I should not have listened to him cry and left him alone, I wish I’d gone to him.”
    Be patient Mommys, this only lasts a little while.

  56. Wow, you just pretty much wrote about me! This is how I feel most of the time. Especially at the moment because its a frustrating and painful time of learning, growing and teething for my daughter (and I). Thank you for sharing. I am going to show this to my husband as I have not been able to put into words what my days are like while he is at work. I have just been diagnosed with depression and am awaiting counselling. I hope it helps me to focus on riding my mind of negative thoughts. So interesting to hear how you can help yourself to turn things around. I will be trying this tomorrow. Thank you again for sharing and making this tough mama journey a lot less lonely :) <3 x

  57. If ever there was a gentle/attachment parenting post I needed to read, this is it. Thank you so much. I also thought it was just me being a single mom with depression. Now when I feel like a failure, I’ll try to remember this.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  58. Thank you for writing this…..I had a complete meltdown a little while ago because a fitted sheet I was folding wasn’t neat enough. lol I’m exhausted…we are dealing with growth spurt plus 4 month sleep regression…Thanks for helping me keep things in perspective! :)

  59. Thanks for this. I can absolutely relate and I really needed to read this. I’m having a very hard time with retraining and redirecting my own thoughts which then leads down a very bad path. It was much easier to remain calm and redirect my thoughts for me when I just had one child. With the introduction of a second child it has been monumentally more difficult for me to be the parent I wish to be. Thank you for writing this.

  60. I’m echoing everyone else here but I just have to chime in too, and tell you how unbelievably valuable this was for me to read!! I also struggle with my past and trying to give my children a better childhood than I had and I go to bed daily feeling like I’ve totally blown it AGAIN!!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like my poor children would be better off with almost anyone but me. But I do love my kids and I am trying and just knowing that there are so many others out there is a comfort I can’t describe. I mean if I think it through it makes sense, but I didn’t think about that at all, all I thought about was how alone and isolated I felt. Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you to the moon and back!! Just can’t thank you enough. <3

  61. Sky Finn-Dunn says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for writing this! I am a ftm and attachment/gentle parenting came natural to my husband and I. (And by natural, I mean just felt like the right way, for us, to raise a child). We were both NOT raised this way. The way you describe getting frustrated and wanting to kick a door in and having to rock and sign etc for an hour each nap, is my son and I everyday as well! It feels hopeless and infuriating. I want to scream, ‘just fucking sleep kid!’ some days, but I don’t, knowing that it will obviously only exacerbate the situation. I want to put him down and let him cry, but it too makes me sick to think of torturing my child like that. I know he’s not doing it on purpose. I truly feel that everyday is a new adventure/challenge and it is making me a better person. I am teaching myself, through the help of counseling, to step back from negative situation and thoughts, and take deep breaths or count to ten. I always thought that I was a patient person, but my son can whine the sanity right out of me! Thank you for telling your story because it is a HUGE eye opener and ray of sunshine for other moms like me who face daily battles internally when it comes to dealing with our babies. We are NOT alone and YES, we can survive this. <3

  62. Beautiful post, the sort of thing that ought to be read by every potential and current mother, more than once. Also, this: “Jack has a difficult time falling asleep which requires me to put him in the sling, breastfeed, sing and dance around the house for about an hour before each nap and bedtime.” I’m so desperately glad to hear I’m not the only one that does this, and not the only one to have occasionally screamed about it. It truly is a relief to know my daughter isn’t the only one with this particular need.

  63. Abby/ The BAB,

    Something to share as a fellow parent and scholar of the arcane arts of psychotherapy…

    Neurobiology illuminates what is happening here very well. There is two main states apparent when the emotional areas of the brain (limbic system) are stressed. The first is the hyperaroused state where the limbic system shows a pattern of hyperactivation, this displays as anxious and hypervigilant behaviour. If the state of distress is prolonged and or extreme then dissociation will occur. Dissociation is where a thinking part of the brain (medial prefrontal cortex) shut downs emotional processing by inhibiting limbic system activation. This displays as a disconnected and emotionally numb state. Without access to the emotions there is a loss of empathy and compassion, and a critical and intolerant reaction to anyone trying to elicit emotional responses from us (a baby’s full time job). All bad things for parenting. On top of that with the limbic system offline access to parental caregiving behaviour located in the hypothalamus is also lost. By this point a person has lost their ability to regulate emotion, connect with others and parent.

    The tendency to dissociate under stress is prevalent in the severely abused and emotional neglected. Unfortunately the outcome of mainstream parenting practices is often emotional neglect so most of us have it in our histories. As a parent the challenge is to improve our ability to maintain emotional processing in the face of distress. Let me know if you are interested in the literature around all this.

    Great article by the way :)

    • I am interested!

    • It’s also triggered by the 24/7 “can’t win” culture most women are exposed to. Always primed that we are on the cusp of failing- either as a woman, as a feminist, as a sex object or as a completely selfless and unthinking mother. Thus we have hundreds of narratives ready when things don’t go quite right- narratives about being ‘a failure’ or ‘cruel’ and we blame ourselves.

      Dare I say it even some gentle parenting blogs/comments do it. I’ve seen one claiming if you’re not happy 24/7 you’re a narcissist and bar parent for example! Not to mention mainstream messages about parenting, usually about earning enough, doing enough etc.
      The word ‘failure’ hangs over women uniquely, sending us into hijack very easily.

  64. Love this post.

  65. So needed this today! I have a 5 year old, 3 year old, 20 month old, & almost 3 month old. I’m a SAHM. I feel like I’m about to lose my shit often!

    My 5 year old is whiny & hyperactive; my 3 year old is going through his “terrible two’s” late; my 20 month old is beginning to find mischief funny; my 3 month old is colicky. I suffer from Chronic Major Depression, GAD, & Panic Disorder to boot (thank goodness for Zoloft!). I feel like I run a zoo most days! Most people think I’m crazy for having 4 children 5 & under; I say I’m blessed. Yes, I get little sleep & no notable alone time. Yes, the house chores are never ending. Yes, all my children have chronic problems that require monitoring. There are days I never make it out of my pajamas, but I love being a mother! People undermine me for being a SAHM, but I have one of the most important jobs in the world: I’m shaping human beings!

    I’m a perfectionist & very hard on myself when I feel I’m acting as childish as my 3 year old. I feel guilty when I imagine running away from it all for an easier life. I get angry with myself four needing medication while breastfeeding. Honestly, I thought I was a horrible mother for thinking these things. I am so glad I’m not alone, that every mom has these fleeting thoughts. Each night before I go to sleep, I think of my babies, hear their rhythmic breathing of sleep, gaze in admiration that I helped create something so perfect, thankful to God for allowing me another day with them & hopeful for another tomorrow. There’s no love or sacrifice as great as that of parenthood, & no greater reward. Thank you for showing me I’m not alone & reminding me to be gentle to myself. :-)

  66. Vanessa James says:

    Thank you! This is very helpful I am a SAHM of 3 (8yrs, 4yrs, and 9 months) between non-stop talking, baby crying, dog whining, and other everyday “stuff” sometimes I have a slight thought that I should go back to my old job in retail :/ then the baby falls asleep the older two calm down and the dog gets comfy and I realize its all worth it. Everytime I go through this I fell like I’m the olnly mother in the world who thinks this way its great to know I’m not alone

  67. I loved this- thank you. I have a sin just like yours it sounds like and have spent hours walking around his room, bouncing around his room with him in the boba trying desperately to get him to sleep. My bigger issue though is his sister is 18 months older- and on her own as I’m trying to attend to him. That has fristrated me to no end and led me to have to put him down and walk aeay a few times because i just couldnt give him anymore time- she needed some. It’s been really tough to figure out how to be an attachment parent to two kids at once. I haven’t figured that out and I wish someone would write a book on it!

  68. Thank You for this! Any suggestions on a sling that is easy and comfortable? I have the Moby Wrap and can put it on without a problem. Getting baby in comfortably is another story. I also tried the NuRoo and the Jelly Bean. I noticed in your pic you have a ring sling….

  69. Megan Elkins says:

    Very well said! My youngest also is a non sleeper. I bounce him on an exercise ball for hours everyday. My arms are in great shape but my bladder, sadly, is not.

  70. Stephanie says:

    Although last night was a good night, this is a great post to remember when we have our bad nights… which is all too many. In the 352 days he’s been alive I’ve had two really good nights and I’ll do my best to remember this for all of those bad nights. Thank you.

  71. Thank you so so SO much for this! I needed it more than you know. I am a first time mom (22) and my LO is 3 months old. Last night was one of the most stressful nights I’ve experienced in a long time (screaming, over tired baby who didn’t want to sleep or be put down at all) and I felt like I was about to lose it (thank god for my boyfriend, who tried his Dad magic when he noticed my eyes popping out of my head). I feel so guilty when I think about just letting her cry it our after an hour of bouncing on the exercise ball, walking around and nursing to no avail. Again, thank you.

  72. Leslie K. says:

    Thank you for this post. I am the same way at times. I have 3 children and one due in 8 weeks. My youngest at the moment is 2, and is a very attached baby. Me Being tired and uncomfortable and him not sleeping well, this post describes me. Again, thank you for reminding me that we are all imperfect mothers but that doesn’t make us a bad mother :)

  73. As others have said, this sounds just like me! I have shouted those same things and have admittedly hit a few walls and slammed a few doors in frustration. I always feel horrible afterwards and try the next time to stay calm and remind myself that my daughter is only 2 1/2 and is not intentionally trying to drive me crazy. We have the same issue of having to lay down with her at every bedtime and nap and it has always had to be me since she always nursed and even when she didn’t she wanted mommy to sleep. We have been working on no nursing at bedtime (she hasn’t given up naptime though) and the other night she let my husband take her to bed – it was a miracle! Hang in there with the sleeping and know that you’re not alone! It was so great to hear I’m not alone about losing it!

  74. madie mclain says:

    I REALLY REALLY RREEAALLLLYYY needed to ready this yesterday (just now getting to reply)… My four year in the last couple months has found herself to be independent and with that came the attitude, smart mouth, stuborness, and just full blow head strong drama diva!!!! (On side note: I didn’t not get to breastfeed her very long, I’m currently 20 weeks preg and plan on breastfeeding as long as my little man will do it, all you women are inspiring me to be confident in myself, thanks) anyways….every morning, evening, night is exactly how I feel like in this blog and I literally thought I was going crazy as a mother and failing, miserably!!!! So glad to know that every mother hits a period of speed bumps in parenthood!!! Me and my husband just look at each other like “with do we do!!” I’m hoping this stage passes fast…..thanks for all your awesome blogs they really help me remain clam and NOT lose my shit thinking I’m the only one :)

  75. Maria A. Hernandez says:

    Greetings like-minded-gentle-parenting Mommas!
    I am the WORST example of “gentle parenting”. I’ve downright have said some pretty nasty things to my kids who are 9yrs, 5yrs and 5 months. I have even threatened physical punishment. Now, I am NOT saying that is ok either. I just need a place where I can safely purge my sins so to speak and hopefully move on.
    One thing I have learned thru all my parenting classes, other parents and even the gentle parenting philospy: make it up to your child and move on. That is not to say they can forgive and forget. In some ways, they (my kids) will never forgive even though their hearts feel it and they MOST definitely will never forget; however, I can “make it up to them” and move on…that is, until the next trangression. Basically it works like this, I would like to make it up to you for yelling at you earlier and I ‘d like to make it up to you by taking you to the park, spending extra 5 minutes reading to you or even by having a “what I love about you…” fest. After I do this I then I remind my girls it is no longer valid to bring the incident up when we are having another discussion. For example, my oldest daughter likes to remind me of a time when I was ..uhm, not so nice and I have to remind her I did a make-up therefore, it is no longer a valid grievence. That is not say it didn’t occur. Sometimes I explain further the reasons for losing my temper (and not excuses). We’ve even had discussions on what I could have done differently. Like cool down for a couple of minutes or take deep breaths. My daughters are so wise sometimes! The experience became a learning experience and not a time when mom just lost her shit…AGAIN!
    Sometimes is not enough to beat ourselves up. Intellectually we know it is not helpful and we are going to continue to do it but maybe the next time we add just a little more to the list of things we CAN do instead.
    This morning I say a not so nice word to my 9yr old daughter and I am already thinking of ways I need to do a make-up, what I have learned from the incident and what I can do differently the next time we have an issue like that rise up again. I am sure my 9yr old will only be too happy to point out the error in my ways and find alternatives for me. I just have to be open to be a better person.
    Thank you so much for allowing me vent and more importantly to mentally prepare for these challenges. I hope most realize that the advice I am giving is more for me and not as a criticism of how everyone else needs to handle their interactions with their children.
    In solidarity, my beautiful, amazing, gentle, loving Mommas!

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  119. I’m so thankful you reposted this today. You have no idea how much I needed this! It makes me feel that my struggles are normal, and that losing my shit occasionally doesn’t make me any less of a mom

  120. Mom Supporting a Stay-at-Home Dad says:

    I love this article. Thank you for the thoughtful reminder. My only critique is the focuse on female parents. My spouse stays home with our toddlers. He goes through these same struggles as a parent.

    As a female feminist, I think that one of the most important things we can do to support equality is to promote gender neutral language around traditionally gendered roles. It also makes the stay-at-home dads feel welcome at the play dates.

  121. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I hit a wall today. My toddler is fussy and fighting something off. For three days I have struggled with nap time, nursing her for upwards of an hour, once for an hour and a half, only to have her wake up crying the minute her head touches the mattress. Today, I hit my “calm mama” wall and shut her door, then flipped out. I mean, I lost it. I bent over, put my head in my hands, and screamed as loudly as possible. It felt so good I did it again… And once more.

    I felt like pulling my hair out, and as tears poured down my face my husband looked at me like I was insane, and I was!

    I have never felt like such a failure. Thank you so much for writing this. I can’t describe how much I needed it, but you’ve brought me back to earth. My mother is a therapist, thus your words have so much meaning. It’s as though my mother were talking, but I was far too ashamed to call her.

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  127. So true!!

    Worth saying, though, that whilst for most of us putting a baby down and walking away would NOT be appropriate it’s important to be clear on one thing – if someone who perhaps has PND or extreme sleep deprivation and is very close to “snapping” (e.g. tempted to SHAKE the baby, to be blunt … we all know the risks of brain injury this poses) – as in very very close, the gentlest option is to place the baby down safely and leave the room to vent/screamjust for a moment or two. The understanding this isn’t the same as neglect SAVES LIVES.
    That said, what I’m talking about here is preventing shaken baby syndrome – not a bit of a cry in the shower, not a bit of a swear – extreme moments one that is not the moment for ‘think it through and re group’ – it’s fire fighting.
    In an ideal world no one would get to that point as they would have support and help before that.
    But if, in a whole childhood of gentle parenting, a parent walks away (after placing their child somewhere safe) for one or two minutes rather than shaking the baby, that is appropriate.

    Many, many tragic cases have been caused by a mother (or carer) unable to get that one moment to snap out of it – often those who pressurise themselves the most end up snapping.

  128. Rita Brodersen says:

    I love your post. I completly understand were you are coming from. I have three children 6, 4, and 1.5 years old. I can become very stressfull and the most difficult times are at night before bedtime for all of us. We all loose are cool at time running aroung like a chicken with our heads cut off but it does and will pass. Remind yourself tommorow is another day and feel blessed for every day with your kids as challenging as it may seem. I like what the post said about recognizing your feelings and putting a stop to them right away by positive thinking. It takes practice but it really helps me because as soon as I let the negative feelings get to me and dwell on them it becomes a pattern and every day goes bad. I simply don’t want live like that. I just want to enjoy my life with my children. The outcome is much more happiness and peace and your attitude towards life and rolling with it will really show through your kids as well. You have fifty things your trying to do the kids are hungry the baby is clinging to you the kids are running around getting in your way. Breath take it easy work through it. Your strong, your a good mom, and wonderful person and you can do it!

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  131. A parent who lost their shit last night says:

    Well, I am one of those parents last night. I grew up in a household where, still to this day, my two younger sisters get respect and love. My dad has always been indifferent cause he didnt want to deal with anything and my mom has said to me that I was a mistake. All my experiences, as you mention, make me the mother I am today. I go out of my way to give the best I can to my kids, to treat them as humans and not just something to order around or get chores to do, to use my experiences and mistakes to help them become better than I ever was. Last night, I lost my shit on my son. The total disrespect and lack of appreciation, the taking and not giving, the egotistical behavior just sent me through the roof. I cracked and became broken and I am having a hard time looking at this person I see in the mirror. I do feel awful that I let myself go. I thought if I treated my son how I never was, to give him what I didn’t get, that I would never be treated that way again. I was wrong. I am not perfect, never have claimed to be such a person, but I do feel like I am not doing a good enough job because if I did then this wouldn’t happen, period. Am I being unrealistic? Is this just part in parcel of being a parent? Because if it is, this sucks. Now, I’m trying to figure out what I am doing wrong and how to fix it. More so now because of how much I yelled last night at him. Maybe the phase, treat people how you want to be treated doesn’t apply because you really can’t control how other people are. I don’t know. I’m at a loss. I’ll keep standing up, walking the path in hopes that both my kids grow up confident and successful in all aspects of their lives, but I sure hope I end up stronger than I feel now because they are counting on me. My son did say however this morning that he feels really crappy for how he was. I just detest that it has to come to this point to knock sense and have him listen. ugh Thank you for the post and to all commentors for sharing your experiences. It has helped to know that I am not alone in this, that I am not a total failure. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. : )

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  137. Whitney says:

    I don’t think this could have fallen into my lap at a better time. My son needs 30 minutes to an hour of hugging, dancing, nursing to get to sleep for each nap and sleep at night – and heaven help me when the cats fight or my husband does something too loudly and it wakes the baby and I get to start all over. I want to be what my sweet boy needs but at times it is overwhelming to feel like the only one that can provide it and now, at 3 mos/13 wks, it’s becoming extra wearing as my little man is extra “whiny” and “needy”. Feeling the weight of family members telling me I’m “spoiling” my baby when he’s having a hard time makes the negative thought train pick up speed! Thank you for pointing out that it’s okay to be human. Sometimes this isn’t all snuggles and giggles and it gets really hard, especially with the sleep deficit. :) So, thank you for your honesty.

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