“How could she!” she gasps as talk turns to the horrific news story of the mother who hurt her child…
The story stabs at my guts.
‘How could she’ I think, but I know.
Do I dare to say it?
“Haven’t you ever felt so overwhelmed, so hopeless, so exhausted, so out of options, that you’ve… well… that you’ve felt your muscles tense and had the urge to… to hurt your child? Just for a second, you don’t do it… but just for a second, you think about it…”
There is total silence and I am suddenly sure I have said too much, that I am the only one who has ever been in this dark place, that I am a terrible mother, a monster.
The silence lingers, and then she says it.
“I’ve been there.”
And that is all it takes to open the flood gates.
“Yes… I’ve been there too. When he just never slept and I was so tired and on my own all the time… ”
“Yes! When you just feel so alone, and like you have tried everything, and this baby is still screaming and screaming…”
None of these Mums have ever hurt their children, but we’ve been on the edge of that cliff once or twice.
We know what it is like to feel pushed right to that point… but we are lucky.
We are lucky that we had support, information, the emotional and mental capacity to try something else, to take a break, or to reach out for help, but what if we didn’t?
What if we were in that dark place and we had nothing, no information, no one to turn to, no way to get out, no light at the end of the tunnel… What then?
How could she?
There but for the grace of God go I.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, if you have no support, if you are on the edge of that cliff, please know that you are not a monster, and you are not alone.
If you need help, here are some Australian resources:
PANDA ( perinatal anxiety and depression Australia)
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Thankyou very much for sharing about this important topic.
Kelly Goodbun says
Thank you for sharing this……….I have been there too.
Thank you for sharing… I was really unsure whether I should publish this post, but I am so glad I did.
Bek Straughan says
Yes. Nights where I had to tag with my husband because it was all over for me. No. More!
Yes. Days of crying and no naps where I had to close the door and leave the crying baby and hide in the bathroom for a few minutes to regain my sanity!
Yes. To shouting when it really really wasn’t the right thing to do.
And YES.. to grace… to help… to healing… You are amazing for putting this out there… we are all but mere mortals, I don’t think many would say they haven’t felt overwhelmed and near this point.
Shari from GoodFoodWeek says
This is something that needs to be talked about more. The other day, I was talking with a mother who was trying to settle a completely out of control toddler and I smiled and said ‘don’t worry, it gets easier. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having our third.’ And then I shared something more… I said ‘sometimes it is so hard that I tell my husband that I can see how a Mum might completely loose it and drive into a river with her children in the car.’ The mother looked up and smiled and said ‘thank you for sharing that’.
Thank you Kate for one of the bravest, most open and honest posts I have read in a long time. It would have taken an enormous amount of courage to post, but it is something that is so true for most mums (more than would admit it), and is something no one really mentions because the fear of being judged or labelled a monster forces them to keep it hidden.
I remember the first time I was so overwhelmed, tired and being driven mad, and the thought of hurting my sweet little child slipped into my head. I was so horrified and ashamed that I even thought it, and yes I felt like I must be an awful person deep down, a monster and the only person I knew who would have a thought like this.
The reality is though that we need these open comments and discussions to help those who are at the brink and help to give them the support they need, to know they are not alone, and provide them with resources and hopefully help prevent those that don’t have the right tools already from crossing that very thin line. Parenting is so very hard, and it pushes you in more ways than you could ever imagine. I never realised the patience needed, or my lack of it. In 15 years of working no one ever wound me up like my own flesh and blood.
A lot of blogs have been written about yelling and we now help each other improve our communication and discipline methods with our kids, but very few go further like you have to reach out to other mums with real honesty and let them know that they aren’t the only ones who every now and then think the unthinkable. Perhaps this can start a new topic of discussion, and lead on to making a real difference to a struggling mum in the thick of parenting reality.
Thank you so much for your support and encouragement, it really means a lot :)
Thanks a lot, Kate! Yes, this is really an important topic. And Yes, I’ve been there too. Several times. And I thank God, that I didn’t hurt my children (at least not physically – it must have been frightening to see me, though), because I knew, how much damage that does. But it’s hard to refrain, to go and let it be. I totally understand every mum that crosses the line, because sometimes it only takes a nanosecond out of control and it’s done.
One thing I want to add, but before, let me say that I consider children the innocent part in that conflict – there’s no talking around that. They’re smaller, weaker, have less eperiance in life and are not as educated as their parents. And now there’s the BUT – they are eperts on your moods and on pushing your buttons. Again and again. That doesn’t excuse loosing it and hurting them. And nevertheless I want to add, that they are an active part in that “conflict”, too. Even if they hurt you unintentionally. They play their role. And your role is to stay calm or take a break. And it is hard.
What helped me, was to take 5 Minutes every night before I fall asleep and count my blessings. I try to think about the day and which parts of it were good, what gave me joy. So that my focus wasn’t only on those things that didn’t work. It helps forgiving your children for what they did and forgiving yourself for how you reacted, so you can go to sleep peacefully and start the new day without emotional baggage.
Sorry for babbling on…
Never be sorry for ‘babbling on’ here! Thank you so much for sharing your support, and your ideas :)
What a powerful post! I think all moms have been there at some times. I’m lucky enough to have support from family to help me through those times and give me a break when I need it. Thank you for being honest enough to share!
It makes you realise how lucky we are to have friends and family we can call on, and to be able to ask for help when we need it. :) Thanks for your support.
Considering that Americans still spank their children I would say you do hurt your children, and some pretty often.
I think it’s a bit of a generalisation to say ‘American’s still spank their children’. I am not American, but I am sure not ALL Americans still spank. I think many many parents world wide are learning better ways to deal with things, including those moments when you come close to losing control which is what I am talking about here.
What a thought provoking pin.
My daughter was a dream baby slept all night from 3 months (up once a night before that), happy and smiley all day and stopped if I asked her to leave something alone. Fast forward 3.5 years later I had my son, he screamed, he cried, he was continually sick, never listened, was awake all day and all night (still is at 2.5yrs old! Despite trying every conceivable method to make him sleep.) I too got to this point a few times (still do!)
Oh how I wish I had been less judgemental, when I saw the news and someone had hurt their child, the lady in the street who shook her child to make them stop. I used to never understand how anyone could hurt their child when I had my daughter I couldn’t imagine harming a hair on her head, after having my son, I still love him more than anything but now I know how! How you get so sleep deprived, so emotionally drained, so desperate that you really can’t think straight!
People who have no one need more of this article put out there so they know it’s okay to feel like that but that they must get help to have a safe release.
Thank you for sharing this.