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really crying tonight - needing support

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  • really crying tonight - needing support

    Hi... its been a while since I last wrote and in many ways, there have been so many positive things that have happened in our lives and so many amazingly, beautiful moment..... today, this evening, I broke down and balled my eyes out! I have been a single parent for 16months now...and my daughter is 3.5. SHe is bright, intense, sensitive, creative, extremely beautiful, intuitive and although a very calm baby has been an intense toddler/pre-schooler. I have written here many times about her emotional, distress tantrums/meltdowns.... it has been trying and often I find I just want the crying to stop-go away and I feel anger. Its essentially not anger about her, although it may present itself that way, but anger about the crying - listening to it frequently, and feeling drained by it and tired with a seriously lack of sleep in the past few years.

    So, I yell extremely rarely - I have done, I have banged objects, I have stormed etc - but I wouldn't say this is the default button. I am a v patient, attentive mother, even when struggling on the inside. However, I do have a nasty habit of muttering things under my breath, and gritting/grinding my teeth - I think sometimes, I don't realize this, sometimes I do - the muttering I realize, I am usually saying something unsavoury or quielty swearing to myself as a release..... but, I think my daughter picks up this energy and I also have noticed just recently, she will grind her teeth and also snarl at me. I feel extremely responsible for this, in fact, in the past 2 weeks, she has seemed very very angry with me periodically - although, I have to say we did stop nursing 2 wks ago....she was slowing down anyway and has hardly mentioned it, but I wonder if it is about this - or is it about my mutterings....

    I sometimes say, 'do you need me to leave, do you need time?" or "you must feel bad inside to be like that towards Mummy" (pushing/hitting me in a kind of subtle way/shouting things at me - naughty Mummy, Silly Mummy (both words I do not use by the way - not even internally). they say them at nursery and all my friends do the naughty step etc....

    so: few theories:

    nursery school frustrations? (they report she is kind, 'naturally empathetic' to her friends, caring for the crying children, doesn't yell or hit and is bright, advanced in many areas and has a good group of friends and follows their routine) that she saves for home because she feels safe to show me anger - we talk about feeling quite a bit and I laso always aologise if I've been out of line?

    my anger being reflected back at me?

    3.5 yr old 'phase' of exerting independence and experimenting with different emotions?

    angry about not nursing?

    angry she doesn't see her Dad - we are in the UK and he is in Brazil... (although he is American, where we used to live for 9 yrs)?

    all of the above.

    HELLLLLP! I don't feel I am a bad mother, but help me not do these mutterings... one day I am sure to say it out loud or help me change this energy. I feel alone with parenting and I feel really alone with all of this.


    Much Love x

  • #2
    Sounds like some of the hard days we have around my house. From what you said it sounds like you've already figured out what's going on, one of the many or all of the things you mentioned. 3.5 year olds can me so much work, so many neat things but it's just such an age of independence and conflicted feelings. My daughter's favorite thing to scream at me has been "Your Not Making Me Happy" to which I find myself screaming back, "It's not my job to make you happy". Not terribly helpful. We have on average 3 tantrums a day, and they seem to come and go as fast as a storm. I read an article a while back about how they were doing research on tantrums and they found that they follow a rythm and it is best if you don't talk to them while they are tantruming. You might be able to find it on the Attached Family that might be where I read it. That has helped me try and take a step back.

    You are not a bad mother, preschoolers are really difficult I think, they are strong willed, empathic enough to read us pretty well, and yet big balls of emotions that can swing either way on a dime. Sounds like your doing a great job just breath and know that your not alone!


    • #3
      frustrated about mommy-anger

      It sounds like you are very intune with your reactions to your child's natural frustrations but you aren't quite sure why they trigger such a strong response in yourself. It might help you to remind yourself that she doesn't have to be happy all the time and that when she isn't happy , it might have very little to do with you. I find that my five year old (who is frustrated very frequently with his older sibs) calms more quickly if I just ackowledge that he is upset. HE doesn't usually want me to solve anything, he just wants to know I am hearing his grievances.
      As a single mom, do you find it difficult to get time to yourself? That might be aprt of the problem to. What sort of support system do you have? Higher needs kids can really drain our energy and it is tough to listen to screaming and unhappiness when your tank is empty.
      IT won't always be this way - nature has a way of taking care of many behavioral issues through natural growth and maturity if we stay out of the way!


      • #4
        needing support

        Hi there

        I really hear your desire to unleanr some of your conditioning and to respond in a different way to the behaviour (crying) which is causing you such discomfort. I really resonate with this and I share your feeling of not liking your own reactions and wanting to find a different way to being with your daughter.

        It's curious how my eldest daughter (now 4 and a quarter) is exhibiting stronger emotions now than ever before and the crying triggers something so visceral it sometimes overwhelms me. I don't know why it affects me so deeply, I too have shouted and banged things and then feel that my daughter takes days to process this. Often she engineers a situation where she knows I will have to say 'no' just so she can vent. This has been healing for both of us as I hold her in my arms and she asserts her wish to say 'no, I don't want this' in as loud a voice as she likes. It helps me to remember that these stormy waters are part of an ocean of love and they are ripples which that ocean of love is very capable of absorbing. It sounds like you are a hugely strong person, giving your daughter so much love and understanding - as a single mother it's hard for people to appreciate just how difficult this is (I'm not a single mother but I run an API support group in Totnes, Devon, UK and there are several single mothers in our group who I am close to).

        Apologising for your behaviour is a very powerful message for your daughter - I actually see this as a gift; a way to show your daughter how rich our human emotions are and how they can be released in a less than perfect way but how that is part of who we are. Explaining and apologising is great! Not over-explaining is great too! I have a tendecy to over-verbalise, especially when my husband is away a lot and I don't have other adults to talk to. I have to remind myself of my sensitive daughter's need for simplicity sometimes and I try to talk less and offer more hugs.

        A lot of her anger may well be processing nursery experiences in a safe place - some power play games might be helpful to balance out a possible sense of feeling disempowered in a group setting? Games such as allowing her to be pretend gate keeper and begging her to let you through - my daughter thinks that's funny! Or saying 'I bet you can't knock me over, I'm so tall and strong!' and then letting her knock you over! It's so hard to know the effect of an absent parent (my partner goes away for 10 days at a time) - my daughter doesn't mention him when he's away. Does your daughter talk a lot about her dad? Maybe doing a picture collage of where he is as a reference for talking about him and connecting with where he is?

        If you want to chat I'm in Devon! on 0781 2214 222. There is also a list of AP groups on - maybe there is a group locally - where are you? Email too if you like on

        Sending hugs - be kind on yourself, I try hard not to be afraid of exposing my daughter to a wide range of emotion and when you feel it's damaging emotion forgive yourself too and maybe you could use that forgiveness to build up the strength inside you which is determined to breath through the painful moments. I often stop myself (not always of course) before I feel angry and ask myself 'what am I noticing?' and then start the sentence with 'I notice...' in the NVC style (observation not evaulation). It helps strip away some of the subjective baggage we bring to situations. I'm really starting to believe that my hurt in hearing the crying is the hurt from my own babyhood - the reaction is so physical I have no better explanation.

        Sending healing hugs to you and in admiration of your honesty and commitment to loving your child


        • #5
          Hi There - only just seeing the responses to my post - THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone for responding.

          (clarification, we lived in the States for 9 yrs - not Brazil - we lived in Brazil for almost 2 yrs where we separated. I am English and back in England).

          Anyway... thank you. this is an ongoing porject, and yes, I am very very accutely aware of my reactions and very strong reactions, but you are right - I am not sure why these reactions are so profound and strong - I can only conclude there is something unconscious, because I am not by character, an angry, negative or aggressive person - the opposite.

          Well, on the whole, life is really good - I am very happy and its been so long since the spearation, I am feeling like I am entering another era... the past 2 weeks have been much improved, by DD has been a lot less angry. I have been ok, but past 2 days, I have been more agitated and lost my cool with her this morning... the rest of the day has been good since then....

          so much to say - but, all your comments, advice, suggestions, sharing and support are extremely appreciated.

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