29 June 2015

When Being a Mom Makes You Feel Mean: 6 Steps to Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself...and Your Child

When Being a Mom Makes You Feel Mean

Lately, I’ve been stuck in a severe funk where being a mom is concerned. This move to Pittsburgh, albeit great, has come with some big challenges namely, having my child with me 24/7. As a full time working mom, it has definitely been an adjustment and not one that’s been easy. I’ve lost my temper more times than I like to admit. My patience has been strained and put to the test. I’ve raised my voice and yelled. Overall, I feel like I’ve been a fucking hot mess.

Have you ever felt this way? For the first time since Chickie was a newborn, I’ve been struggling with bouts of anger, resentment, loathing and borderline depression but before I go any further, I want to make a few points crystal clear…

1.    I love my child with all of my being. I would die for her, do anything in the world for her and give her the best that life has to offer.
2.    My daughter is, hands down, the biggest, most amazing blessing in my life. She is truly a gift from God and I adore her completely.

So, let’s not forget this as I discuss I rather sensitive issue, okay?

I feel like I’m emotionally stuck under a dark cloud with regards to motherhood lately but it’s also a situation that’s unavoidable; Maddy is used to being in school all day with friends while having an outlet to release all her energy and I’m used to going to work. I know we are both doing our best and that this scenario is only temporary but it still leaves me feeling pretty rotten as a mom. Couple this change with a few other challenges that we’re dealing with, and you have the perfect storm of stress, anxiety and a longing for things to become “normal” again. Here are a few other things we’re dealing with now:

1.        Maddy will be four in July and is still not sleeping through the night. Michael and I haven’t slept consistently, all night, in over three years. THREE YEARS. Most nights we are up anywhere between 2 – 5 times or have extended stretches for hours on end with her just being awake. She has been to several doctors who always tell us the same thing: “This is normal. She will grow out of it. There is nothing we can do for you.” Side note: if one more doctor makes this asinine comment to me, they will get punched in the throat. I mean, seriously. I find it hard to believe that my daughter waking up so much during the night or either not sleeping at all is “normal.” At any rate, with the lack of sleep on top of everything else, it’s easy to see how one can become stretched thin.

2.    A complete attitude of defiance rules the roost. Getting her to do anything without a complete and total meltdown, tantrum, or crying fit is impossible and because of this, she usually spends most of her day in time out, her room, or being disciplined {I’m not even joking or exaggerating}.

3.    Mealtimes are pretty much hell. Our once happy to eat anything diner is now defiant to eat anything at all or either likes to pull the bait and switch on us.

It’s all just exhausting. In my eyes, there seems to be nothing rewarding, satisfying, or even remotely worth being happy about in being a mom right now and as a result, I feel a huge amount of anger and resentment towards my child. I swear it’s like a cloud descends on me and I feel as if I have to really work to get myself out of it because otherwise everything my daughter does – even the totally normal kid things – makes me feel grumpy and I start to feel mean.

To be clear, when I say I feel mean it’s not in a seeking retribution kind of way or wanting to retaliate against my child to hurt her kind of way. Instead, its feeling as if my interactions with her and my responses to the things she does are not aligned with my normal beliefs of how being a mom should be. My normal philosophy is to be open, loving but firm in responses, and to try and get on her level so that she can better relate to what I’m trying to communicate. 

But lately? 

I am quick to anger. I shout more instead of using a loving voice. I feel myself lying in bed at night while she’s awake wondering what in the world I’ve done in deciding to even have a child. My patience is non-existent and I find myself snapping and using tones of voices that aren’t nice. I’ve cried more than I ever thought possible and I’ve basically done everything, including bargaining with God, to PLEASE – just let me have one night of good rest. 

I know I’m incredibly lucky. I know there are millions of women struggling to get pregnant but with all due respect, that’s not my battle to fight and I can’t take on the world’s woes without being able to acknowledge my own. Just because another woman is struggling to have a baby, it doesn’t negate the issues and struggles I’m going through. I shouldn’t be begrudged in my feelings and I shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling this way, but I do. 

So what can I do to fix it?

I’ve always found that for me personally, feelings of resentment means it’s time for self-care and reflecting on ways to better take care of myself so that I feel like the mom I want to be. Whether that means finding a sitter to get more “me” time, going to bed earlier, eating better, exercising – whatever, I need to do it. Self-care isn’t always easy when you’re taking care of little ones but it is necessary. I’ve also found these tips helpful in letting go of anger and resentment in parenting:

1.    Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try your best to see what they see. When I’m upset, all my daughter sees is a big person who is angry. I can only imagine how that makes her feel. Putting myself in her shoes has a way of making me feel compassion instead of anger and resentment.

2.    Try to remember that your toddler or preschooler isn’t giving you a hard time but instead, they are having a hard time. Keeping the perspective that my child isn’t trying to upset me on purpose helps me to better align my feelings to respond appropriately. 

3.    Talk with someone who you know won’t judge you for your feelings. Sometimes simply getting it out or talking with someone who is going through the same thing helps tremendously.

4.    Sometimes you just have to step away. Leave them with a trusted family member, your spouse, or sitter, and just leave to have a few hours to regroup. 

5.    Hold, grab, and giggle. At times when my daughter is pushing me to my very last limit, I’ll grab her, hold her down, and just tickle her like crazy. Usually, this gets a lot of laughs from her and as a result, her attention is redirected from the prior fit she was throwing and we’re able to move on in a positive way.

6.    Get help. If worse comes to worse and you see no relief in sight from your feelings, get help. Go to your doctor, get medication, or schedule an appointment with a therapist. Sometimes our demons are much, much larger than ourselves. There is no shame in asking for, or needing, help. 

Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever struggle with feelings of being a mean mom? If so, how do you work through it? Any tricks or ideas?

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.


  1. Oh my dear, I wish I could hug you from here! We've all been there and just keep pushing through. You'll figure it out.

    In regards to the sleep thing, have you ever thought of switching off nights if she's going to keep getting up? I don't know how feasible it is right now with settling from the move, but maybe for a little while switch off one of you sleeping on the couch and the other in the bedroom? That way you could lock the bedroom door and the parent in there can get some rest and Maddie will have to go to the parent on the couch. Then you can alternate nights. It's not ideal, but you guys NEED some rest. I wish I had a solution for you on her sleeping, period, but I have no experience since we sleep trained Abbie as an infant and we haven't had that issue. Good luck my dear and let me know if you need to vent. <3

  2. Courtney PattersonJune 29, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    Thanks, friend. It's tough for sure. We sleep trained too but it's this asshole thing doctors like to call "sleep regression." It's just a fancy way of saying "Sorry your kid won't sleep at night." It will all work itself out, it always does but it is definitely hard in the process. Thanks for reading and I hope you guys are doing well!

  3. Loving the point about giving a hard time vs having a hard time. Being a parent of toddlers is tough!

  4. Charlotte Marie WhiteheadJune 29, 2015 at 1:36 PM

    I love this! I feel the same way. Thank you for sharing, this is helpful!!

  5. Laura Powell-CorbettJune 29, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    I feel the same way in fact I just spent 10 minutes shouting and then feeling guilty.

    Man, I feel for you with the sleeping through the night and I don't 100% agree with the drs as she's reached the age of understanding and reason. Likewise I don't actually have any real advice but I do have a lot of sympathy!

  6. I totally feel like the mean mom all the time. I have twin toddlers and a 5 year old, so I feel like I haven't slept for the last 5 years either. I really need to stop and put myself in their shoes. I know they are frustrated because they can't clearly communicate everything, and just don't understand. This mom stuff is hard!

  7. This post is everything. You have captured the mama heart in every word. This is invaluable. Every person should read this before they become parents.

  8. THIS. POST. So unbeliveable true. The whole rule-the-roost attitude - we are EXACTLY there right now. I completely feel you on most of my daughter's time being in time out, or being disciplined. And I always told myself I wouldn't be a parent who yelled. HA. I too find myself jumping to shouting right away, and then feeling like shit afterward. Ah, the glamorous life of motherhood.

  9. I've been feeling this way a bit with my 1 year old...he used to be a perfect through-the-night sleeper, wonderful, voracious eater, and happy-go-lucky boy...now he's waking up screaming bloody murder in the night and isn't content unless we hold him, doesn't want to eat anything but strawberries and Kix, and is clingy and very sensitive. I just transitioned from being a part-time teacher to a full-time SAHM. I have suffered anxiety all my life, so I realize that the transition in my life, plus all the transitions my one year old is making just makes this a hard season...I know it is just a season, but it's a crappy, hard to deal with season. I've been trying my best not to lose my temper, too. A lot of times in the evening, I'll tell my husband (who has never lost his temper in the entire time I have known him) that he is in charge of our son and I'm going on a walk or drive.

  10. This is very good! I think we all feel this way sometimes! I also am going through the same anger and impatience with my 2 year old. All of a sudden he has turned into a nightmare. I feel all I do is yell at him and its for the same things over and over again! Just know you are not alone!

  11. Thank you for sharing this. Being honest and vulnerable. And letting us come alongside and say, me too. More than I care to admit. Me too. I have found that taking some time for me, getting out and doing something I enjoy or meeting up with a friend for coffee helps me stay *slightly* sane during the crazy.

  12. I'm with ya, girl. Summer vacation is fun and all, but having the boys home full time is tough since they are used to their routines. Thinking about you. You have some great strategies. I hope you find your new normal soon, whatever that may be.