Dear Kerry: “I Feel Like a Bad Mom”

by | Jul 26, 2018

Dear Kerry,
 
I feel like such a bad mom! I wanted these kids. I love these kids. And still, I end up yelling at them and I feel so bad. I hate how mean I can be when I get frustrated. How do I stop?
 
From Bad Mom
 
 
Dear Bad Mom,
 
Oh honey, I’m sorry you feel so bad.  I’ll share an honest and personal story:
 
When my boys were 10 weeks, 4- and 7-years-old, I was at a family camp with Barry & Joyce Vissell (www.sharedheart.org). In a workshop for the adults, we were instructed to sit quietly and think about a part of ourselves that we keep tucked away and don’t share with anyone else. The leaders asked us to think about what we are ashamed of about ourselves. As I sat there with my eyes closed, my littlest baby in my arms, tears started pouring down my face. I knew what I was most ashamed of and I hated to admit it.
 
What was I most embarrassed about? I was ashamed that I could get so mad at my precious little boys. I wanted to have them. I wanted to stay home with them. I felt lucky to be a mom. And yet, sometimes when they fought or yelled or didn’t listen and I was tired and overwhelmed, I ended up yelling at them. To add to my guilt, I was teaching parenting classes by then which really made me think I should be the perfect mom who could always handle it. Wow, was that ever wrong.
 

When I tearfully shared the part of me that I hid from everyone, the leaders asked everyone else in the room who was a parent to raise their hand if they ever felt the same way. Do you know what happened? Every single parent in that room raised their hand. I looked around in awe. I was seriously dumbfounded. Everyone?  Even that family that looked perfect? Even the sweet mom who seemed to have her act so together?  Why hadn’t anyone told me??? It seemed so unfair that this was such a best-kept secret. I had felt so crazy and like a bad mom and here I was, finding out that every. single. other. parent. felt. the. same.

 

On that day, 16 years ago in July, I vowed to come out of the closet about my mom-shame. To this day, I think we moms could help the sanity of all parents if we just acknowledged to younger, newer moms that they are not alone when they feel this way.

 
If I were to start a club, I’d call it the “674 Things They Never Told Us About Parenting Club.” We would all share the things that have surprised us along the way about parenting. One of the first and biggest ones would be that it is utterly, completely normal to feel surprised about how much harder it is than we thought to be consistently kind, loving and patient with these precious little people who have so many needs.
 
So hang in there, “(Not)Bad Mom.” You might be doing everything humanly possible to be a great mom and STILL feel like you’re not doing it well enough. Now you know the best kept secret: we all feel that way.
 

Warm regards,
Kerry

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2018 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

+++++
Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFTa Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

Visit Kerry’s extensive collection of articles on parenting…a treasure trove of tips and insights.

Calm Parenting

Before I had kids, I always pictured myself as a calm, loving, happy, and nurturing mother. I was sometimes. I still am sometimes. I didn’t realize how hard I would have to work sometimes just to avoid coming completely unglued and falling apart right there on the...

That was then…This is now

As I watch, walk, read and listen, I am horrified and heartbroken about the systemic pervasiveness of disrespect and destruction of Black people’s lives that is rooted in racism.

One Way to Start Mother’s Day 2020

I think the sweetest gift I could receive would be WORDS. Words that in spite of my imperfections, my humanity, my annoying idiosyncrasies, and my mistakes along the way … that they’ll take me the way I am. That I am enough.

Raising Boys Made Me Braver

I have had to call up the intrepid, courageous, and active parts of me that, up until motherhood, had laid somewhat dormant.

The Car Sanctuary

So often while driving, my kids would fall asleep and I found that to be a quiet peaceful time. So, I decided to make my car my sanctuary.

Instead of M&M’s, Kids Need More N&Ns – AKA: My Kid Hates When I Say “No”

One day when I took my young son to Burger King, he wanted something he couldn’t have and I said no. It didn’t work out well for either of us.  What he wanted was “white pop” (known to older kids as Sprite). I was OK with that. I held the cup to the Sprite label on...

Popsicle vs. Poopsicle: your ticket to better dinner conversation

It's possible that dinner conversation is not quite what you had dreamed of. I had fantasies of a happy family gathered around, politely eating a meal that they appreciated and each person happily chatting about their day, one at a time. If you have that,...

How Do We Parent in Ways We Weren’t Parented?

Make lasting changes in behavior that last a lifetime and span multiple generations. In some ways, it's easy to parent our children in ways we weren't parented, right?  I was a latch-key kid with a working mom who was gone a lot. When it came time for me to be a mom,...

What Is Head and Heart Parents About?

Hi! I’m Kerry Stutzman. At Head and Heart Parents, we care about all things related to parenting.  I, and the other therapists I work with, think about the entire system of a family, from the well-being of the kids to the sanity and sense of humor of the parents....

My Favorite New Year’s Resolution

I loved this resolution because it helped bring to life a piece of me that I longed for: the part that can pause long enough to truly see and hear my children’s words and respond with a smile