I am a single mum of a beautiful 14 month old daughter. I am in my mid 30's & this is my only child. The pregnancy was unplanned & the father who lives interstate is twice my age.
I have always had a pretty short fuse, but I also get over my anger very quickly if I'm left alone for a few minutes. My sister & I were raised by our (sometimes-single) mum. We have different fathers, who we didn't ever see throughout our childhoods. My mum was only 17 when I was born & my sister was born 3 years later. My mother also has quick temper, but she never seemed to get over it very quickly. In fact, I remember her always saying "It's gonna be one of those F***king days!" as soon as something went a little bit wrong & of course if you say something like this often enough it becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy & things go from bad to worse. As a kid (& even now) I would panic when mum got into one of her angry moods, thinking it was somehow my fault, because she would be yelling at us, slamming cupboards & we'd get a smack & sent to our rooms for a minor offence. I always swore that if I ever had kids I would never parent them the way I was parented & have my kids obey me because they feared me.
30 odd years later & I'm ashamed to say that the stress of being a single mother to a very bright, energetic & often defiant little toddler does get the better of me. I try to be patient, but after asking over 10 times in ten minutes, please stop doing that & redirecting her to a safer activity or distracting her with a toy to play with instead & she defiantly rebukes my efforts, throws a tantrum, scratches & hits me I eventually lose my temper & as much as I hate myself for doing so I end up yelling & swearing at her, just like my mother did to me.
I love my baby so much & I do believe that I am a good mum. I spend time with her, we play & sing & dance. She goes to daycare a couple of days a week so I can get a break, but I just don't know how to deal with my own inability to stay calm. I feel so guilty, like I'm causing her permanent emotional scars every time I yell at her in frustration. I know that "nobody can be the perfect parent" & "kids are so resiliant" & all of that other stuff that social workers tell you to help you feel like less of a failure, but it still doesn't help my predicament........
Does anybody have any advice on how to prevent these mood swings, manage my own frustration, anger & stress, as well as managing to break the cycle of dysfunctional parenting. I am trying really hard & we have an infant mental health worker who visits 1hour a month, the focus is primarily attachment parenting. Which is the parenting style I have tried to implement from day one - but honestly, on my own, it's really really exhausting. I have no life, I'm bored, lonely & stressed & I don't want to take this out on my precious darling daughter. She can be a real handful, but aren't all kids?
Any input would be greatly appreciated. I'm seriously thinking of enrolling in an anger management course! Never in my pre-parent life would I have considered such a thing. I'd have laughed & thought it was a joke if someone had said (just before I was pregnant) "in 2 years from now you will need anger management". I was always the calm, easy going one. Irresponsible, impulsive, fun-loving etc. Now I feel the opposite. I thought I'd love being a mum......& I do, but sometimes I'm not the type of mother I always dreamt I would be & that makes me sad
I almost don't know where to begin, but here goes!:
I am 31 yrs old, have 2 young boys, (4 yrs old & 20 months)& I'm married. My first pregnancy was not planned, and for that matter, neither was the 2nd one! I was addicted to heroin before my first pregnancy, and when I found out I was pregnant, I ultimately chose to go through with it, come clean to my family of my addiction, seek help, got the help I needed & I've been clean ever since. I had a very traumatic childhood & and teenage life. My two older brothers and I grew up with a single mom who loved us very much, but had her own demons & struggled with addiction & depression. Many times, I was witness to horrific sights & had to endure endless pain & frightening situations as a result of my mothers instability. I don't need to go through specifics, but I still struggle today from memories of my mother being so drugged, and ever since I can remember, there were countless nights of keeping myself awake, to make sure my mom would not hurt herself or burn down the house (which did actually happen when I was in 9th grade), or get in the car & drive , because she was just so intoxicated. She too had a short fuse & I inherited that short temper just the same. I have these memories, and no child should ever have to endure such responsibility, let alone a kindergardener, which I was that young dealing with all this.
As I grew up, and throughout my teenage years, I developed a reputation for being a loud, strong-willed, tough girl, with a tendency to start or threaten fights. I didn't get in many physical fights (but I can't say it never happened), but I definitely had a mouth on me & most people backed down as my mouth was enough to prove my superiority & instill fear in my target.
Fast forward to now. (My mother passed away when I was 20. I came home one morning, after a night at my boyfriends, and found her dead, sitting Indian-style on her bed, hunched over. She had over-dosed. )
I apologize for the tangent, but I want to express to you how deeply I believe that people can change. For the better. I still have struggles, of course. But I am living a different lifestyle, mainly because of my kids. I call my first, my angel. He saved my life. I am a sober woman because of him. I never thought I could live a sober life. Especially didn't believe I could STAY sober. I worried I might succeed for a while, but once my son would be born & I might start to be comfortable with parenting, I worried I may follow my mother's footsteps & fall back into the love for a high. Well, I didn't. I had such awful memories & intense post-traumatic stress from the entirety of my dealing with the consequences of my mothers addiction & her death, that I was not ever going to give my angels an inkling of the pain & suffering that I dealt with. I still deal with it, and I can probably use some counseling now, but I have received it in the past. I've opened up about my past to anyone that that gave me the chance or care to get to know me deeply.
I want you to know that yes, all mothers lose their cool at times. It's normal. But, in your situation, my advice is to seek counseling. You seem to me, that you have emotional pain as a direct result of your home life when you were young, growing up with your mother's temper. I believe I am lucky. I haven't scratched the surface yet, but the events of my life are pretty dramatic. I know that countless people all over this universe have had it worse than me. I don't have pity parties for myself, and I choose to keep the mentality that my life may have been tough, but I would not be the woman, wife, friend, sister or mother that I am today, had I not lived through all of it. I am surprising myself still, almost everyday, how patient I've become. As I said, I had a bad reputation for being a hard-ass. I still am an out-going, tough woman with a no-nonsense attitude. But I utilize it to my advantage, and to help my friends in their times of need, and to be a good mother. I'm extremely patient as a mother, for the most part. I am by no means, perfect. And there's ALWAYS room for improvement, but my kids are well-behaved because I don't give in. But mostly because I've educated myself and carefully set parenting strategies that my kids can respect.
I suggest counseling, along with some parenting research. Sounds weird. But there are some great websites for ways to successfully discipline & include the parenting tools you can relate to. Just google your main issues with your daughter & her defiance. I am sure you will find what you need. I don't know much about you, but I can at least tell you that I believe that you can find your way to better yourself as a mother, because it is obvious how passionate you are & your guilty feelings for your faults are the sure sign that you can recognize that your behavior is wrong. That is seriously, half the battle. You at least know that some things need to change. And that's admirable. Your temper is probably one good reason why your daughter acts out. Also, consider the attention she is getting from you. Is it mostly negative attention? Kids tend to mis-behave when they are not getting the attention they need. If she is being yelled at for mis-behaving, she is mis-behaving because maybe that's the only way to get your attention. As much as she needs positive reinforcement & encouragement, if she isn't getting any from you, well she has learned that if she can't have that, she'll just take what she can get. And she has learned what makes you focus on her the most. It's when she acts out or dis-obeys you. As badly as this sounds, she's just begging for some reaction & she has learned how to get it. Even though its negative, she wants your energy focused on her, so she knows how to get it.
I'm sure Ive exceeded the amount of info you need, but I hope some of this can help you. I shared more than what you asked for, but I needed to prove my point & show you that I can relate. Please let me know if you want to talk more specifically about anything you may struggle with, or if I can just be someone you can vent to. I hope you find some help. Through this forum and/or anywhere else!