I'm a terrible mom; what do I do?

Jessica - posted on 04/01/2013 ( 2 moms have responded )




I'm a full-time single mom of a 5-year-old boy. His dad bolted when I got pregnant, and though he's been involved since the birth, he's now married with step kids and a new baby. I fully believe him having our son so seldom was a major factor in his finding someone to marry, but that's a different rant.
Everyone always tells me how polite and sweet and smart my son is, and for the most part it's true ... except with me. He NEVER listens to me. I can tell him something 12 times in a row and he just goes about his business. I can tell him to not do something as he's doing it and looking right at me, and he continues to do it. Everything is a fight or an argument and he never seems to care if he hurts my feelings. In fact the few times I cried in front of him he laughed. And this is the same little boy who at other times will run into the room to hug me and tell me he loves me and I'm the best mom in the world. The rest of the time he openly defies me and begs for his daddy and mommy (which is also what he calls his stepmom, which breaks my damn heart). Spanking doesn't get through to him, and neither does time-outs, removal of privileges (tv, toys, etc.), early bedtimes, or any reasonable system of punishment.
Since he was born I have put myself through college for a second degree, got a decent job, and bought a house. I send him to private school, put him in sports, try to take him on fun trips like zoos and aquariums. But he still refuses to listen to me or even seem to care at all about me. Today I took him to lunch at the restaurant of his choice, took him to the park, and was going to take him for ice cream. First he threw a fit and cried because his cousin wouldn't play the way he wanted. Then he openly disobeyed me six times in a row. And quickly after he lost his cousin's toy I told him no ice cream, we're going home. He melted down and I lost it. I spent the whole ride home yelling and screaming and cussing at him. He's been in his room the last three hours and I've been crying.
I have always wanted to be a mom. Granted this isn't how I'd planned it to work out. I'm just worried I'm not made for it. I hate kids' shows and kids' music, even when I was a kid. I hate it when he talks gibberish or acts goofy. I've gotten to where I just can't stand my life, and I'm afraid, no, I know I'm doing irreparable damage to my kid. I'm just so stressed. I don't have anyone to help more than they already do. I can't afford therapy. All the antidepressants I've ever tried make me so tired and comatose he might as well not have a mother. I love my child more than anything, I really do. I just don't know how to get him to listen and mind and behave. He doesn't get the whole "just the two of us" concept. What do I do? Anything short of sending him off to his dad's, which isn't really an option, or just having myself committed. What do I do???


Rebekah - posted on 04/01/2013




Jessica, I gather by your last post that you didn't get the responses as fast as you wanted? In my experience, responses here don't always happen instantaneously, so don't take it to heart. There are tons of posts occurring all the time; it depends on who sees what when. Hopefully you'll get more feedback than just mine.
I'm wondering if your son is reacting to his dad having a new baby and possibly feeling replaced (or fearing being replaced). The baby gets to live with dad all the time, so he may have some feelings about that and it unfortunately gets taken out on you. It is typical for kids (people in general, really) to take out their anger on those they feel most comfortable/safe with. Maybe that's why he's more defiant with you? I'm only speculating, of course. Its a dynamic to pay attention to, though.
Discipline-wise, pick something and just stick with it. Even if he's acting like he doesn't care, stay consistent. He will learn where the boundaries are, which is hugely important. My son is 7, and taking things/losing privileges was the more effective thing over time outs (and we don't do spanking) when he was 5, and even now. And take heart... all kids will go through periods where they test (and test and test). My son and I had a day like that today. And, I think all kids can drive us to moments where we question ourselves and wonder what we are doing. We use 123 Magic, but there are other good parenting techniques out there to learn from if you are looking for some fresh ideas. Just stay consistent, whatever you choose.
But you are looking for more support and direction. Is therapy really out of the question? If you have a good job, aren't there any benefits that you could use? Do they have an Employee Assistance Program? You have been able to provide all kinds of things for him (home, school, extra-curriculars), which as a single mom, is something to be proud of. Can you forgo some of the extras (a sport, trips, etc) just for a period of time to go towards some family therapy for both of you? Its an investment that is worth passing on some of the other things, if it helps you to understand where he's coming from, empowers you as his mother, and draws you closer together.
Antidepressants are sometimes part of the solution (was your dr aware that the meds had that effect on you? couldn't they alter the dosage?), but typically not by themselves... having someone to talk through your concerns, anger, and self-doubt is extremely important. You need someone to affirm you... do you get to socialize with other moms? You will find that not all moms love kids music/music/etc either. Don't worry about that. There are lots of different kinds of moms... and even the "good ones" feel like they've lost it sometimes. Just keep loving your son, share with him what you find exciting about life, find what his gifts are, and go from there. It is hard to be strong when you are under stress and your son seems to be in turmoil... do what you can to build yourself up. Remind yourself of all the good things that you have done/are doing to make a better life for you both. Forgive yourself for mistakes made and commit to finding other ways to handle your reactions.
Finally...and I'm saying this in an encouraging tone--Don't look to the world to give a s*** about you... it doesn't matter what the world thinks. You have to care for yourself... and find good people who are going to encourage you in the good things you are trying to do for yourself and your son. If people have let you down, then its time to find new people.


View replies by

Nicole - posted on 07/23/2014




Thank you Jessica! ..for posting posting what I believe many of us single mothers feel on a day to day bases. I can't count how many times I feel/felt like throwing in the towel and completely giving up because the way my son treats me (and others at times). I work long 12hr shifts days/nights ~ I can get over tired and over stressed, due to my work, parenting responsibilities, finacial obligations and much more.

My son feeds off my energy, which only make matters worse! If I'm calm and collected...so is my son (for the most part). But how the heck does one maintain that equilibrium amongst the chaos of life's responsibilities? It's not easy being a single mom, especially one who wants nothing but the best for their child, but life is not perfect and it was never intended to be perfect. It's okay to break down when you are at your weakest point, but remember your strength! We (us single moms) are stronger than we think!

...In fact, prior to posting this little blip in response to yours - I was in tears googling "I'm a terrible mom, How can I manage on my life?"...and this tread appeared before my eyes. while reading it, I felt less alone in my misery! So thank you for that!

I realize this post was posted well over a year ago, but I hope you found ways to care for yourself (self care) to allow you to care for your child. I believe self care is one factor that is soooo important, in order to care well for others. Such as; nature walks, running, art, knitting, massages, relaxation, meditation....you can get where I'm going
with this.

Anyways, thanks again for sharing your feelings that so many can relate with :)

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms