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Seeking Help

I've been in denial for a long time. But I'm finally getting help--thanks to the encouragement, advice, and support of my three running partners. Heidi gave me the name of someone who helped her; Molly let me know that realizing I needed help was a powerful--and positive--first step; and Sheila shared empathy and advice. It was hard for me to admit I had a problem: I'm stoic, and I thought I could soldier through. Or I thought the problem would go away as time passed. But my BRF's made me realize it's okay to ask for help, and to see a professional.

I don't have a problem with cigarettes, booze, methamphetamine, gambling, or online porn. It's with...parenting. I finally decided our kids, and our family unit, deserve better parenting skills than Jack and I possess. We love our children with all our hearts, but we are running on fumes in the patience and parenting departments.

Wait, since I'm writing this post, let me switch to the singular pronoun. I/me: I'm owning this behavior. I lose my patience way too easily--and far too often--with my children. I yell at them way too much. I rarely give them my undivided attention. I use what can only be deemed negative language (e.g. "Stop being so annoying!"). I say, "stop..." and "don't...." countless times in a day. Every night, when my kids argue over who gets to sit next to me at the dinner table and my blood boils, all I think is, "Why do they want to sit next to me--I'm so mean." When Daphne tells me repeatedly, "Mama, you're so beautiful," I feel like an ugly failure.

So I've waved the white flag, and Jack and I are seeing a therapist on Tuesday. Insurance won't cover it, and we don't really have the "spare" funds to pay for this expense. But I finally realized the long-term cost to our family would be so much greater. And I'm grateful that being honest with my running partners has brought me to this place. I hope the next steps for me and our family can be as impactful.



118 responses to “Seeking Help

  1. I could have written this myself, Sarah! Yesterday, after returning from an awesome spring break ski vacation with my husband and 13 and 10 year old, I finally lost it after 9 days of listening to the kids bicker with each other. I screamed at them that I could not WAIT until they were back in school so I wouldn’t have to listen to their f-ing fighting anymore. Yes, I used the F word!! Of course I regreted it the moment it escaped my mouth but I was soooo tired of them not hearing me. All that to say that I greatly sympathize and hope you realize that we all have our moments of losing it. I hope the therapy sessions help. I am betting they do! I have picked up a couple of books over the years that have helped me out when I get to that “I’m a terrible mother” point. I picked one of them (“How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk”) back up again last night. Time to straighten up and do better. 🙂 Best wishes to you!!

  2. My husband recently went back to school (Sept 2011) in another Province. Since he left, I felt like I’ve had no patients with my little one (now 21 months old). Yes yelling, “don’t” etc. I seriously thought I needed help as it was breaking me down to do this so such an innocent little one. I ended up asking family for help when I just couldn’t handle everything, asking friends for help and taking some time for myself. My husband’s been back and forth….just left this morning for a few days…yeah that’s it, just a few days but I’m already getting frustrated and yelling. Totally not cool on my behalf. For me, I need a great workout (which I am off to do after I get the dishes done and cloth diapers washed:) … but it brings me back to calm and more focused. I haven’t given up the thought of getting professional advice – just have to take the leap and find out what that help is.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. And again Sarah, you’ve laid a sensitive topic wide open. I suspect this post will empower lots of parents to seek help and support as well. Lord knows we all need it!

  4. Part of this here whole BAMR tribe thing is supporting one another (and not judging). You are in our thoughts and meditations/prayers/mantras while we run/whatever. Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to work on it—and to share with all of us what that means for you and your family.

    We’ve all been there.

  5. I think many of us feel exactly what you wrote. Thank you for being so honest and open. Don’t beat yourself up. I think due to our current “mommy culture” many of us are trying to fill sooo many shoes and juggle so many balls that we become exhausted and take it out on the ones we love- including our wonderful kids. You’ll have to keep us posted on how it goes and if you have any magic answer to stop the yelling would love to hear it. I too am known to be a yelling mom.

  6. Well done for seeking the help and also for being able to write about it and share it with us all.
    Parenting is not easy, there are no books that tell you all the nitty gritty, the day to day drudgery it can be at times.The days when all you have said is NO, when you feel a failure because, why don’t they understand what you are saying? and they continue to do the same thing over and over again.
    We all juggle many things and you have many exciting things going on now, enjoy those things and your children.
    Good luck to you, it does get better well, it changes!

  7. Sarah, thanks for being real. The ‘mom’ part of all of us ‘mother runners’ get it and relate! Parenting gets me on my knees way more than anything else in my life. Its hard to admit my shortcomings in the parenting dept and the fact that simply things are not working… I fail and fail again. You are not alone Thank goodness for the resources that are out there to help us in what I think is one of the hardest jobs in the world… Not to mention we have to figure it out with a spouse that doesn’t always have the same ideas. No wonder we run. :). You are an amazing woman, trying to juggle so many things— thank u for being an example of humility in coming to a place where ‘help’ is not a word outside your vocabulary. Praying for you sarah… That you can celebrate your new book, the exciting things happening in your career and running life, and enjoy your family in a new and refreshed way at the same time. Hang in there!

  8. Hi Sarah. Feel our love and support sister. We’re here for you and we all know how you feel. As a mom who sometimes locks herself in the bathroom to cry, I can tell you that you are not alone in this.

  9. Sarah –

    You are one courageous momma to know you need support. There is so much pressure at times to be this amazing parent. As if you are born with a complete tool kit filled with all the skills you need to raise the perfect child. And when you aren’t amazing it feels like such a failure. In our case, my youngest came out of the womb needing more of just about everything. As the years wore on I simply wore out. I was trying to balance my sweet daughter with her daddy, her big brother, my aging mom, a career – and failing miserably. Everyone was yelling and crying and exhausted. Thankfully a good friend at work, who had seen me arrive a basket case for the umpteenth time, knew of a counselor that had worked with another friend’s child on similar issues with great success. 6 months later, my daughter is blossoming with all the creative tools and support her counselor has given her. I too have grown so much. It has been difficult at times to accept my role in certain situations and I have had to make changes myself. Damn those bad enabling habits! 🙂 Yet I relish the happiness and calm that has taken over my household, all because we finally had the courage to ask for some help.

    Good luck!

  10. Sarah,
    I question my parenting habits every day. I also have very little patience with my kids. This morning I left my 5 y/o barefoot at preschool. Every morning he insists on putting on his shoes once we get to the school parking lot. Today, he inadvertently got in the car with two left shoes. I drove back an hour later with the right pair, but I hope he learned his lesson.
    It’s good to know I’m not the only one. Everybody around me seems to be “the perfect parent”.
    Good luck.

  11. You are a strong and smart woman, SBS. Thank you for baring your soul to us on this one. It takes a lot of guts to admit we need help. As many others have said, I think a lot of us go through similar times, frustrations and feelings. I know I do. Your comment about not giving them undivided attention really hit home with me personally. I’m totally guilty and not only with my kids, but with my husband too. And that’s not fair. And I’m working on changing it.
    I really enjoyed reading Screemfree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel. While I don’t agree with everything in it, the basic premise that I am not so much responsible FOR my kids as I am responsible TO my kids resonates with me. I cannot be responsible for everything they say and do (as much as the control freak in me wants to manage that some days). They are their own people. But I AM responsible for my words and actions (and reactions!). We all want to do right by our kids, but a lot of people don’t take that next step and actually do something to make necessary changes when the need arises. You are doing that. Kudos to you. (HUGS)

  12. Therapy is the best thing that ever happened for our family. It came in the form of “help” for our autistic middle child but ended up helping Mommy and Daddy more than anyone else. We are a totally different family now, less yelling, more playing and lots of talking and productivity. We are truly a team now. Good luck Sarah, it will all be worth it!!

  13. I think all moms struggle with this … and it’s GREAT to talk about it. I do not like it when I turn into that mom and I have to actively work to take a deep breath and force myself to calm down. I recently read a great book called Screamfree Parenting and the ideas contained in its pages did help me. The #1 thing it teaches you is to let the consequences do the yelling. It is hard to get behind sometimes when you want to control everything (like I do!!) but I have felt a good deal more in control and at peace with my parenting since I started working to this goal. Good luck on your journey, I will be happy to hear about it.

  14. I have older kids – 21 and 17. Just today I went to a counselor to ask how to help myself deal with my 21 year old – not to change his behaviors, because he is who he is, but to change how I react inside to his behaviors.

    When I’m so upset with him I try to focus on all the good things around me. Hoping that will become a habit for me.

    Parenting is definitey a journey – and we don’t always travel the direction we assume we will go, but usually get back on track. Looking forward to Powells Book Store!

  15. Good vibes and a super big hug all the way from Oz to you. Nobody is perfect, there’s no perfect parenting. You identified the problem and now are looking for a solution, there’s nothing better than that. Good on you!

  16. Bless your heart, SBS. We have all had tough times in the parenting department. You know our set – up – 5 kids from post-college down to 5th grade. My short term fix – Don’t react – some of my best moments parenting have been when
    I kept my mouth closed – let the kid(s) say what they need to say. Just soak it in without reacting. After a moment, respond. Thoughtfully. And do try being in the moment because the moments do fly by. Eye contact, open ears…empty hands…and last & most importantly, as anyone who knows me, prayer is my glue that keeps me together!!! Hugs to you my friend!!!

  17. We ask for advice on how clothes look on us, what to wear out or color to paint our house. We will share recipes and shoes and spend hours discussing movies and books offering opinions and corrections of plot. However when it comes to the single most important job that we are tasked with: parenting, we assume that magically the answers are locked deep within our souls. The sad truth is that no matter how many college degrees or abbreviations follow our name, what vocational school we attended, how we were raised, whether we have fantastic relationships with our family of origin or not, we are as clueless when it comes to shaping and molding another human as we would be as master sculptors unless we took a course. Navigating the way is no easy feat without a map. We download courses to train for a marathon and ask anyone who will talk to us their opinion on the best training schedule. So why not seek ALL the support, help and advice we can on parenting? Including but not limited to therapists, expert friends, pediatricians, educators and books on the subject. As a lifetime early childhood educator, single parent of two and member of MASK (Mothers Awareness on School age Kids, website above) I know all too well that it takes a village. A crazy wonderful village that I have called upon many, many times. Best of luck to you as you have taken the all important first step and asked for help. Love that you posted this!

  18. I’m sorry you are going through this but so glad you are seeking assistance! Some days I too wonder if it’s just a bad day or is my short fuse due to something more deep seated that needs to be dealt with in more depth. I applaud you sharing this because hopefully it is not only cathartic to you but also helpful to other bamr’s going through similar issues!

  19. I don’t want to be long-winded because I agree with most everything that has been posted. Hooray for speaking out. I think one of THE MOST beneficial things about that is that -as you can see here- you are NOT alone!!! You are not a freak of nature or a bad Mom! You are NORMAL! 🙂 We all have been there or are there now. Glad you are getting help AND that you and your husband are doing it together. There’s nothing better than the united front in front of your kids. You two will grow together through this as well.
    I also noticed that I struggled with this a lot more when my kids were little. Keeping the “toxins” (although it really pains me to call it that!) like caffeine and alcohol can help tremendously. It can really interfere with our hormones. (…and think about what our bodies have been through/are going through with childbearing, breastfeeding, etc. It’s A LOT!) It was also the “perfectionism” in me. I’ve learned to let some of that go and know that it’s OK if my house isn’t perfect. …and if you don’t struggle with raising kids then you’re not paying attention! 🙂
    There is quite a bit of empathy here for you to lean on.
    Hang in there!

  20. Be proud of your ability to recognize and your willingness to seek help. I am sure you are wonderful parents and I don’t know anyone who does not struggle with this. You mentioned your insurance does not cover the counseling session. Does your or your husbands employer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? Many employers do and these often have counselors you can speak with on the phone and may even cover a limited number of in person counseling sessions. Best wishes!!!

  21. You are pretty darn amazing ad brave to speak and admit what most moms never would (which is so silly b/c we all know we could all use a bit of help!). So thanks for your bravery and another dose of inspiration…in a totally different way then the norm but as a mom of 4 who absolutely has days where its all out of control, I appreciate it. Once again you have made me feel *not* alone! Xoxoxo

  22. You are not not not alone. I have been hoping (?) my maternal misbehavior is perhaps PRE-menopause…need something organic to blame it on. The next step is what to DO about it, and that’s where I’ve been faltering. Have been seeing a psychologist with my challenging 6 yo for almost a year and not sure we are getting anywhere, starting to think it is more me than her 🙁 Best of luck with the therapy–just taking the first step toward doing something is such a relief for me most times! All my RLAM love! (let me also say that reading just the little snippet about the link, before reading further, my heart sank thinking you weren’t doing Boston!!!)

  23. I really admire your strength and honesty in being so open about this. We have all been there and anyone who says differently either has full time nannies or lies. There is one book I love and refer to when the boiling point gets close: “Mama Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood” by Karen Zazen Miller. It has and continues to help me immensely. Good luck and bless you!

  24. My family moved this past Christmas.
    4 kids- 9.5, 8,5,2.
    At one point in the buying/selling/moving hell, I told the kids- look: I get crabby sometimes. If I’m acting like Cruella da Vill, say- Mommy, you need to change your attitude. Do you want some coffee???”
    Oddly enough, my kids started waking me up every day with a nice cup. (keurigs are kid friendly)

    I don’t let my girls stomp around the house with a bad attitude- I give them chocolate milk, and then they chill out somewhere for a few minutes until they feel ok again.
    I think it’s important for the kids to see that Moms are not perfect.

  25. You’re so brave. I recently did the same thing, for the same reasons. It’s been just about a month’s worth of sessions, and I definitely am seeing differences. You will, too. Just the fact that you are taking this step is a difference. Thank you for sharing the “messy parts” of your life with us1

  26. Thank you for sharing this post. Ditto in our house. The hardest thing for me to admit was that it was ME, not them. Hugs to you. The therapy $$ will be well worth it and pay you back dividends in happiness and calm.

  27. THANK YOU for your honesty Sarah. I feel so guilty every time I tell my almost 4 year old-stop or don’t do that. I try so hard to be positive and not lose patience with her. I hope you will share your journey. Kudos to your husband too for agreeing to go with you. I know a lot of men (including mine) that would not do that. I wish you and your family the best.

  28. The most helpful parenting lesson that I have learned is that everyday I am going to fail–somehow, some way. I will make a whole bunch of mistakes even though I try my best. A few years ago, the pressure of trying to do it all right really got to me. The parenting books said I should not get angry. So the more I tried not to get mad the more ticked off I got. But finally admitting that I was not going to be perfect was so freeing. I assume you are not beating your kids. And sometimes kids are annoying! It OK for us to admit when we’re wrong. And I think we really overthink parenting and every little thing we do seems so big. You are not wrecking your kids. Although you might be doing some of it wrong, I suspect you’re doing most of it right.

  29. So brave Sarah – thank you for posting this. So many folks have shared resources we can all use (love and logic, going on that amazon list) and hopefully it will be good to know that we are all there at some points in our lives. I have to echo the poster about having a Mom with a short fuse, grumpiness, etc…she was my matron of honor and although we did not agree on everything we were honest and truthful with each other through the tough times and the wonderful ones too. Being a mother is tough, but for so many of us we have found something additional to celebrate in our lives because of you and dimity. Thank you again and again.

  30. Thank you for showing us how much alike we all are. I feel exactly as you do. My kids want to cuddle with me on the couch and all I can think is, “Can’t I have a moment to myself?” Then I quickly remember that when I was single and living alone, all I wished for was for a little person who shared half of my genes to cuddle with me on the couch. I needed to read your post today. Thank you for having the guts to put out there what so many of us try to hide. Much love.

  31. I didn’t get a chance to read all the comments (because I was too busy getting frustrated with my children who are right now fighting over who gets to sit next to me on the couch) but thank you for sharing with us! I know that I get frustrated way too easily and tend to blow up when I shouldn’t more often than I care to admit in public. If we can’t support each other in this then who can we turn to?

  32. I can completely relate. My 2.5 year old is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced and daily I think that today’s the day someone is going to jump out and say “Enough! Your child deserves better.”
    Thank you for your honesty once again and making me feel validated and human as part of this amazing experience.
    I wish you and your family the best and know that you are taking all the necessary steps to take care of them.

  33. I hope you can feel the support of all of us that care! Sending hugs, and prayers and best wishes to your family.

  34. Sarah:

    Definitely been there! Especially the guilt when they all clamor to be around me even though I feel like I am so mean all the time. It is hard, especially when you are also trying to carve out a life and an identity of your own, though I’m guessing even homemakers of yore felt this way.
    We had a pediatric behavioral therapist come because of my son with special needs and it helped me overall as a parent, with all three kids. Needing this kind of help is just as legitimate as needing medical help, babysitting help, etc. In other words, it’s a real need and good for you for realizing it.


  35. We did it and it changed our lives. I am still yell and lose my temper and snap at my kids, but it is so much better. think of your first visit as an interview. We went through three before we found one that fit. The first said what we described was normal; we knew it was not. The second told us that we would all be happier if DH and I just lowered our expectations–everyone was under too much pressure. The third wanted to put us all on medication. I went to one by myself who helped me ID what issues were, and it only took two sessions with her that were really helpful. Finally, we found one who works for us all. It is worth the money that we also don’t have. ((((hugs)))))

  36. I’m so proud of you for posting this! 🙂 I finally stood up and said are family needed to stop the yelling and negative arguing. We are all in counseling now. Though, I know we have a ways to go, there is peace in our house again and I hear our kids laughing again. 🙂 Good job momma!

  37. Thank you for sharing your struggle with all of us. Parenting is SO hard and I’m another that loses my cool too often- I am actively trying to yell less but it is a day to day struggle. Admitting there is something not right and taking the steps to get help is the hardest part. Wishing you all the best for the future.

  38. Thank for sharing! Parenting, life, working, is such a balancing act and it’s hard! I love all the responses with great resources!

    I personally pray every morning “Thank you God for another day with my family and please give me the patience to enjoy them” and often tell my children how I pray for patience and how they need to have it with me while I take care of what needs to be done.

    Hang in there, baby steps and change is long and hard! i’m sure you’ve wrote about this in some running article somewhere!

    Take care and thank you for all your sharing and being so open to all the aspects of life!

  39. So often now with blogs, FB, etc. there is all this input of people living the highlight reel of their life, but the truth is that not all of our day is good happy thoughts with a perfectly decorated home and a recently completed craft or DIY project. Thank you for being brave to say it and put it out there.

  40. THANK YOU! I had the same conversation with a girlfriend the other day. As someone who works with kids for a living, I have infinite patience for the kiddos I am paid to work with and none for my little cherub. I found Love and Logic and Positive Parenting to be meaningful in my personal and professional lives.

  41. Thank You so much for sharing, Sarah. I read your post first thing this morning and I wanted to thank you. Firstly, for being brave enough to share this is- as being this open on such a forum is difficult. And, secondly- you helped to remind me to take a little extra time today with my son and to pause for a moment and reflect on what was happening. All the best to you on your journey.

  42. Realizing there is an issue, and seeking help for it, is more than half of the battle!!! I’m so proud of you for taking that first step!! You will never regret seeking professional help, and it will be worth every. single. penny that you will INVEST!!! We have been “shrinkified”… I’m speaking from experience!! (((((HUGS))))) to you!! Your children love you , and they always will!! Good luck to you!!

  43. Sarah, I’m so very glad you wrote this post! Parenting isn’t for wussies. It’s HARD!!! Many of us are too ashamed to ask for help when we need it, or we think we should go it alone. I believe that asking for help is so very courageous. It’s not admitting defeat, it’s admitting that you’re willing to do ANYTHING to be a good parent for your kids which is so incredibly awesome! Just opening the forum helps us(moms and dads in the trenches) to open up and cut each other some slack (which we don’t do often enough). I wish you the best with your therapist and I hope you know that you’re even more of a badass in my eyes!

  44. I guess I’ve come to find that filling up all of MY “tanks” first with good stuff allows me to spill that love over to my family rather than to be a nag. Running has been that thing that can fill me up, but it also takes a good night’s rest, good food and some “away time” from the family.

    I hope you will find the right balance so that your family get your best YOU.

    Peace my dear!

  45. Good luck! I’ve been attempting to get my husband on board with more positive parenting techniques for our 3.5 year old (remember, the one running around EVERYWHERE at the Vegas RnR expo) but he never seems to have or make time for the free services we have available to us (First 5 in California and San Diego is AWESOME). I have worked long and hard and with a multitude of child development specialists to gain what little patience I do have for my one child and every minute was well worth it. Seeking help to make yourself a better parent, especially from an objective outsider, is more than just a good idea – its holding yourself responsible to and accountable for your children and their developing behavior.

    You know its bad when your littlest one, who has a very limited vocabulary to begin with, looks you in the eye, tells you to “shhhhhhh!”, [calm] “down”, and pats you on the cheek consolingly whenever your voice rises!!

    Lots of love and hugs on your continuing adventure into motherhood!

  46. I gave up yelling for Lent–I chose it for a discipline precisely because I knew I could not do it perfectly and could not do it on my own. I am fortunate to have a very well-regarded, free(!) parenting course offered every few months in my area. I will be signing up as soon as my youngest is old enough to qualify for their child care!

    1. I guess I left out the most important part–which should have been to say thank you for your openness. Most of us, if we are honest, have shared some part of that experience and appreciate–once again–the sense of community your words provide.

  47. SBS, thank you so much for being so open and honest with all of your fellow mother runners. Very inspiring for me personally. See, you are impacting us in sooooo many ways. It’s going to be tough — trust me on that one — but hang in there… Just like on a tough run. Stay on the path and keep a slow and steady pace. I don’t think we’ll ever get to the parenting “finish line” but you will enjoy the trip so much more.

  48. i am so proud of you. i finally stood up for my family after too many years of yelling and negative talk. we r all in counseling now and tho we have a long way to go, i feel peace in our home again…a sort of hope. good job momma! =)

  49. Oh Sarah. You are so brave. How many parents feel this way, but never ask for help? And how many parents really ARE terrible parents, but don’t give a shit? Daphne is right, you ARE beautiful, and strong and an inspiration to many. I’m sending big hugs down I5 to you, and will include you in my prayers at bedtime.

  50. Oh, my gosh, I feel like I’ve just read a chapter out of my own life. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing how you and your family are dealing with this. May we all find peace and patience as we move forward as parents.

  51. Kudos to you for being so honest and open with your fellow mothers runners. Anyone can pretend that everything is sunshine and roses, but I applaud you for doing this. As a young(ish) mother, it helps to know I am not the only one who struggles. It takes a truly caring set of parents to do what you are doing. Please share some of the best tips you learn with us!!

  52. This is such a good post. I say it all the time, being a mom is the hardest job in the world. Good for you in asking for help. I wish more parents were like you. Hugs to you!

  53. Yay for you for putting this out there!!! I just started reading your blog about a week or so ago and I’m not one who tends to comment but I just HAD to when I read your entry this morning.

    A couple of things, I had similar issues that started a couple of years ago. My irritabilty and frustration with my husband and young kiddos ended up being, in large part, due to some vitamin definicies and hormonal changes that I was going through. Once I started bio-identical hormone replacements and specific vitamin supplements I felt soooo much better. Things that would have sent me through the roof before became minor irritations that I could easily deal with.

    Around the same time as I was getting my endrocine system back in balance, I discovered that one of my boys was dealing with Sensory Processing Dysfunction. It is often is misdiagnosed as ADHD, especially in young boys. He saw an Occupational Therapist twice a week for almost a year. Getting his sensory needs met as well as us learning how to help him at home made a huge difference in his behavior which made our household run much smoother, etc. Also, once he stopped seeing the OT we sought help for him from a play therapist. Both of these therapies were some of the best things that we ever could have done for him. He is now a well adjusted, thriving 7 yr old.

    I’m sharing my experiences to give you additional avenues you may want to explore.

    Good luck brave sister!! It will only get better from here!!

    1. I second this on hormone stuff – I also decided to give up coffee/caffeine (not easy with a 2 year old and 4 year old!!) and it has made a big difference in not flipping my lid as often.

  54. Thanks for sharing! I do the same things you do and would love it if you would share the solutions you find out about. 🙂

  55. I think making the decision to change your parenting & seek out resources to help you with that is awesome and brave. I know we’re struggling in our house not to raise our voices, and it’s an ongoing challenge. Good for you!

  56. First – way to go! Asking for help with parenting is just about par with asking someone to teach you to use tampons. I mean, seriously, could it more personal?
    Surrounding yourself with people who can teach you USABLE skills and support you in your growth as a parent is such a gift to give yourself.

    My husband and I took the Mindful Parenting PDX classes ( and I highly, highly recommend them. You meet four times (at a WINE BAR in close-in NE Portland), talk with about 10 other couples, and learn hard and fast tools to use. We have learned little things to do and say to our kids (3.5 and 7), and the kids actually annoy us less and tattle less and fight less. And then I don’t have to scream “STOP DOING THAT!” at them…
    We’ve all had parenting moments we aren’t proud of. Getting to a place that you are proud of? Effing priceless. Hugs to you!

  57. Celebrate has made a world of difference for me!!! He goes through why kids do what they do and how to appropriately respond. I’m married to a short tempered douchebag so I use these skills constantly as I demonstrate self control for my kids. I refuse to be an angry, screamy person-celebrate calm helped me greatly with that.

  58. Thank you, bless you, love and hugs your way. We have got your back on this, and thanks for making us feel like we are not alone in yet another way.

    Only suggestion I have – are you and Jack going on regular dates with each other? This is where a lot of our parenting hard work gets done – on our dates. Not that that’s the only thing we talk about/do – but away from the kids, focusing on each other, you can talk about things in a less “loaded” setting and actually troubleshoot/problem solve.

    And I too am guilty of not giving undivided attention. Thanks for the callout there.

    Good thoughts/vibes etc. to you.

  59. Sara, Thanks for being so out there……the thing is I could relate to so much of what you were saying, my constant prayer everyday is patience with my kids! I love them so much, but they can push me to the limits!! I have two highschool girls , 15 and 17 and they know how to push my buttons, my running helps me alot to blow off steam……but not sure it’s enough sometimes..
    I will be interested to hear how things go for you! You are helping lots of us with your honesty.

  60. A wonderful sharing of a painful truth. Thank you. So many people give such a “life is rosey” depiction of their family lives when in reality, few are that way. I know that I yell at my children way too often and way too quickly. You really hit me hard when you said, “I rarely give them my undivided attention.” The shame I felt in reading that stemmed from my own guilt. I need to make some changes. Today.

  61. Insurance didn’t pay for our therapy either but it was the BEST money we have ever spent. I’m still not a perfect parent but I don’t think I know any perfect ones?

  62. Many hugs!!! Very proud of you to own it now. Sending lots of good healing vibes to you and your family. Thanks for sharing this powerful realization.

  63. First off, I came from a house of three girls and my mom had a short fuse with us too. But really, I don’t think it left any lasting, horrible effects. Despite that I think my mom and I are actually very close (especially now that I have kids). The fact that you are seeking help only proves that you are a loving, caring parent, even if you don’t always see that in your eyes. Two, gosh what mom hasn’t felt that way? I certainly hope most do b/c I know that I do and I only have one 2 1/2 year old (one more on the way). Thanks for sharing, SBS! I think it’s a great reminder that we all have short comings and need help, despite what perfect image we may try to portray.

  64. My husband and I took a parenting class our pediatrician recommended to us. We made many improvements and things have improved. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves how well things work when we do the right thing.

  65. SBS – it sounds like you are a very lucky woman – in so many ways. Good luck with this process. I’ll be hoping the best for you and your family.

  66. I’m happy that you are taking the step to get help. And lucky for you to have your running friends to help you to get to the point of admitting you need help. I meet with a Mom’s group every Monday morning affiliated with my church, and we talk mostly about parenting issues, and I find that really gives me a little “tune up” to start the week right. I wish you and your family the best as you get your own “tune up”. Your family obviously has much love, and that is the most important thing.

  67. I read this and thought SHE IS READING MY MIND! Please know that you are not alone and being able to admit it is huge. Sometimes after the kids are bed and I am reflecting on the day, I get very sad knowing that I wasn’t the best parent I could be. My oldest son was just recently diagnosed with ADHD and we are working with a therapist. We have good hours and bad hours. Yes, I only look at hours as we rarely have a perfect day. Just take this one step at a time and again, know you are not alone!

  68. I want to say so many things: Good for you! You are brave for writing this! Good job! You are not alone! Thank you for telling us! You are doing the right thing! And: It takes courage to ask for help! Maybe the last one most of all.

    Thanks for sharing this, Sarah. Good work, mama!

  69. Good for you for seeking help. We have 4 kids and we go all the time to our therapist for a “tune up”. Things are always coming up with one kid or the other or between us as a couple. It has really helped alot to get another perspective. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I try to give myself some space from the kids when they are driving me nuts. And good for you for blogging about this issue. Every parent has these issue so it’s nice when it’s out in the open. We don’t feel so alone in it. Good luck!

  70. Wow, I thought I was reading something I’d written myself! The part of about “why do you want to sit next to me when I’m so mean” made me laugh out loud… I ask that question all the time! Parenting is tough, and I think we all know that when we sign up for it, but there’s no way to truly understand HOW tough until you do it.. and then wow! Good for you for wanting to be your best, and for sharing your story. It is great to know that someone I look up to faces the same struggles as the rest of us, and can lean on the tribe for help when needed. Good luck!

  71. Something I’m starting to look at and try is “Love and Logic”. It is hard to rein in the anger/frustrations, but allowing the child to learn to make good choices is awesome…and much easier. 😀

  72. Oh, MAMA! I just wrote a post with a similar – though more pitifully toned – premise. I heart ya for putting it out there. May we each find peace with ourselves and in our homes.


  73. Parenting IS a marathon… in and day out. Enduring the parenting marathon is totally exhausting most days. Your post brought tears to my eyes becuase I can relate. My mom bought me your first book BECAUSE I had such a short fuse and she wanted to encourage me to start running so I would have more patience with my kids. It’s working for me: on my run days my fuse is longer. You are SO BRAVE for admitting what so many of try to keep hidden from the world. You will have a sea of support as you embark on this journey. It can only get better from now on 🙂 Much, much, love!

  74. Thank you so much for sharing this. This has weighed heavily on me here lately as well. I just feel like I’m failing as a mom and wife. I appreciate you putting it out there so we all know we aren’t alone in the struggles we face.

  75. Have you heard of Love and Logic by Jim Fay?. His tips are invaluable for any parent, teacher, grandparent out there. I have used it both as a teacher and a parent and an auntie to 5 girls. It works. If you look it up online, you can get on their free newsletter, most libraries carry the book, and if you cannot find the cds I will send you one of mine. Call it a Pay It Forward. Someone gave it to me and I will give it to you if you want it just pass it on when you are done.
    Hugs to you for seeking help and getting to the bottom of what is making you run on fumes. Go Refuel with the good vibes we are sending your way!

    1. I second the recommendation for Love and Logic. One of my best friends teaches classes in L&L and recommended the book before my kids were even born. It is so nice to have it to set the framework for how my husband and I raise our kids. It avoids alot of marital discord because we are on the same page and the kids benefit because they know what to expect. Admittedly, our children are young (2 and 4), so some of the bigger challenges lie ahead, but so far so good.

  76. All of which makes you perfectly normal (and relatable). I did the same a few years back when I realized my parenting skills were falling short when it came to managing my headstrong daughter’s behavior. It was a really great thing to go through. You’ll be happy you did it.

  77. SBS I totally understand. I’m so proud of you for sharing with us and seeking help. I highly suggest the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. It’s helped me profoundly not have outbursts with my kids (not that I’m perfect but I’m much better!)

  78. Knowledge is power. This is crucial as I am a mom of 3 special needs kiddos. I encourage you on your quest for peace and strength! The positive is how resilient kids are and quick to forgive our mistakes. I believe it reinforces balanced humanity and the idea that we all can learn, grow & change with hard work at any age;-)

  79. Way to go for you – in opening up about this. When my husband was deployed for 8 months I reached my overload or boiling point and was the “mean” mom almost everyday until he returned. I admitted it to him several times that I was not the mom I wanted to be. I knew I needed to get a grip on my annoyance and patience levels. Once he was home things really leveled out b/c there were two of us and I had a parenting partner. BUT over time I slowly got back to being the angry mommy who yelled and lost her temper. I’ve since decided to do the ‘ol count to 10 thing (sometimes that works) but mostly I’ve just identified that I don’t want to be that mom anymore. So I’m starting to read a book called, “Scream Free Parenting”, I’m hoping this will offer some advice.

  80. SBS–I’m so sorry that you’ve been feeling this way, but you are very brave to post about it. We (your “virtual” running partners) will be there with you every step of the way, too. I think too much is expected of parents these days, and we put too much pressure on ourselves. Hopefully your therapist will be the person who can help you ease that pressure and feel confident that you are THE mom your kids need and want (because you are!!).–Terzah

  81. Thank you for putting into words what most all of us feel at one time or another. I often feel overwhelmed with not only having to be everything to everybody, but being expected to be happy about it too. And thank you for sharing with us.

  82. It could have been me writing your post — you are not alone in feeling stretched thin and failing in the role of mom. This is a common topic on my runs with my running mom friends. Kudos to you for reaching out to a therapist!

  83. Parenting is absolutely the hardest job without training that anyone has. No one wants to “practice” on their kids – we want to get it “right” the first time! I will only say this: Make sure you are comfortable with your therapist. There are hundreds of parenting “theories” and most likely only a few that will work with your and your family’s personalities. Blessings!

  84. Thanks for this post, Sarah! Your self-awareness and honesty are admirable. And by being willing to put yourself out there by blogging about it, you’re also helping other peeps through the ripple effect!

  85. I salute your courage in realizing you need help, doing something about it and talking about it. What a tremendous example you are setting for your children, and what guts and love you have for them to venture beyond your comfort zone to do your best for them.

  86. Prayers with you-I feel the same way when my boys want to be with their dad all the time and not me…ugh. I feel like the bad cop all the time-but one morning after a long 16 mile run-my son Isaac said “mommy go sit down I want to make you some toast with peanut butter and jam-and I can go get your chocolate milk for you” I almost burst into tears right then and there…he knew how tired I was, he knew my favorite post-run meal and drink…You are beautiful-your little girl sees it and wants to sit next to her mama..I wish my boys would fight over sitting next to me! You are brave for admitting it-and extra brave for getting help. Keep your chin up!

  87. Sarah, We will be cheering you along just as we would at a marathon! You certainly aren’t alone. Being a mom is tough. Acknowledging that you need help proves that you are one badass mother and will be ok! You help us all through so much with our running, thanks for letting us be there for you this time! XOXOXXOXOXOX

  88. When my kids were younger I took a parenting class because what the heck did I know about raising 2 little human beings? Nothing! It helped a lot and now I rely on my BFF’s to get me through some of the tough pre-teen stuff that they’ve already been through. I savor the long run conversations that we have that help guide me through the toughest job in the world.

  89. Ditto what everyone else is saying. This is brave and awesome. Just wanted to suggest you check out the scream free parenting website. I really like thier tips of the day, and I haven’t read thier book but I’m sure it’s great.

  90. Sarah,
    As a therapist and mom, I applaud you for not only taking the brave step to ask for help, but extra brave step of putting it out there for all of us. It takes a village, and this virtual village is behind you! **Hugs**

  91. Awww, Sarah. I can relate. I’m definitely not the most patient mother. I fail daily. You’re taking the right steps. It speaks volumes about you, your character and your love for your family that you’re taking this step. There are lots of parents out there who don’t see their shortcomings {which we ALL have} or just choose to ignore them and as a result, do nothing about it. You love your children.

    I’ll be thinking of you!

    1. You are not alone. I used to lose Mother of the Year before 7 every morning. this was well before I started running, but I found relief after visiting my doctor and facing my own issues…I was severely depressed years after my mother’s sudden death. Anti-depressants worked immediately which made a definite difference, but through running I have finally been able to maintain my “sanity” without the prescription. However, it took several years before I felt like running could replace the medicine. You are not alone!

  92. I don’t think you are the only one Sarah, I know I blow my fuse a lot. I try and limit yay computer time and try todo special things with my kids after school etc.

    I hope youmwill keep us posted ask am sure you will help many

  93. Good for you, seriously. It’s so hard to realize that some behaviors are not just ‘a bad day.’ To take this step is big, and I hope it will help you all.

  94. You are most definitely NOT ALONE. I have one child who is oppositional defiant (and we are having him tested for ADHD), one child who has already been diagnosed ADHD (in the gifted program but failing 3rd grade due to inattention issues) and…a 3 year old. Enough said. Good for you for not only getting the advice you need but opening up about it so others don’t think they are the only “mean” ones. We don’t have lots of cash for therapists, either, but there are a WORLD of good books I’ve gotten from the library to help me hang on and give me some great ideas to put in practice. Sending lots of hugs and positive thoughts your way!

  95. I don’t want to be perceived as all “new agey” but you do live in Portland, after all. . . I used to have the shortest fuse ever at home (and I’m a psychieraoist, go figure). What has made the biggest difference for me is a mindfulness practice, which, in my life, is yoga. And I mean practice, this has taken some time. Now, before I react to my frustration, I automatically/unconsciously pause and check to see where it’s coming from and how to respond. The other day, instead of yelling at my husband because I ALWAYS HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING, I realized I was cranky and hungry, and we worked together to figure out what we would have for dinner after I brought my son to the school dance. Last year, that would have been a marital feud that would have made its way into the therapist’s office.

    Check out The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland. Add yoga classes to your routine. The point is not yoga for exercise or stretching– it’s about noticing your body without judgment and practicing with that body today.

    Good luck and take care.

  96. *hugs* It takes courage to admit the need for help with parenting….b/c in our society, it just seems assumed that every parent knows what to do with their kids. I’m glad that you have to courage to acknowledge it publicly. It’s not easy.

    So happy to have running friends you can count on to look out for you. We all look out for each other.

  97. Thanks. Thanks for this. You may be doing this for your family, but shining a light on your human frailty is enormously powerful. My number 1 complaint about many popular blogs is the refusal to acknowledge the difficult, the messy, the painful that exist in all of our lives. So thank you. I hope your journey is productive for your family.

    1. EXACTLY. I heard a saying that we are only seeing people’s highlight reels…when in reality life is messy! I’ve struggled with perfectionism and over the years I’ve realized that forgiving yourself for not being perfect is so important to moving forward. Really, I only respect you more for being honest and open about the truths of motherhood.

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