In a now-deleted post to the subreddit r/BreakingMom, user TheAntiMama received hundreds of comments and upvotes when she opened up in a vulnerable post on the forum.
“I’m one of ‘those Moms’ that shouldn’t have had children. I chose to have my children, but most of that decision was made by external life circumstances — it was ‘the right time’ to start a family is the primary reason we did it. As far as desire to have children, it was my husband that really wanted a family — I wanted him. So we had children. To be clear, I didn’t HAVE kids to keep him. We just kind of stumbled into it. I was always reluctant.
“Unfortunately, what I discovered AFTER having them is that I don’t have a nurturing bone in my body. I hate to play. Noise shorts out my neurological circuitry. I have about a half hour of conversation in me per day and then I’m cooked. Basically, all the ‘soft skills’ you need to be an amazing mother — I don’t have ANY of those.
“I know I chose to have them so I regularly chew myself out internally to suck it up, and live up to the responsibilities that I created. I know it’s not their fault that I didn’t think this through — and I do love them! I’m just NOT a good mom. I’m not a consistent provider of the emotional things kids need to thrive. I fake it, but it’s exhausting and my kids aren’t stupid — they can feel something is off.
“To add to the BS, I also find motherhood thankless, exhausting and tedious. You haven’t well broken your body and spirit to provide one thing before they demand another. Mothering requires what feels like super-human emotional endurance to provide. And unfortunately for me I’m just one of those people that doesn’t have those qualities naturally. So I’m a little lost. Fantastically depressed about it. Starting to think that my family would be better off without me.
“Can anyone relate to this? Is there any way to develop these qualities so that my girls have a positive experience of their childhood even if I am not naturally well-suited to the job?
“I’ve tried a lot of therapy, but generally they just seem to think that I’m being too hard on myself. But I’m not. My kids show me ‘toxic mom’ TikToks. They tiptoe around me like I’m some sort of time bomb (and I sometimes am, so I get it). I get angry very, very easily. I am always telling them to go away. I take every opportunity I can to be outside of their presence, and they are old enough now pick up on it and to understand that all moms aren’t like this.
“Is there anyway to turn this around? Has anyone started out has a mom with these kind[s] of problems and found a way to improve yourself and the experience of your children? I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want them to have lifelong emotional problems because they had the misfortune of getting a mom who couldn’t figure her s*** out before she had them.”
TheAntiMama went on to explain in the comments that she has tried numerous types of therapy and medication — but despite years of “concerted, sustained effort,” she’s found nothing helpful. Doctors have deemed her particular type of anxiety/depression “treatment-resistant,” she expounded.
Now, the struggling mom feels like “an outcast among everyday moms.” She wrote in the comments, “It’s like no one can relate and the consensus is that I am just a horrible person and I should really work on that. I happen to agree, but it doesn’t help me figure it out, you know?”
‘You’re a real mom and a good mom…’
But hundreds of parents came forward to offer TheAntiMama support and advice — and to inform her she’s not alone in her feelings toward motherhood.
“You aren’t toxic. You are self aware and telling a truth that many feel but will never express it because of societal conditioning,” one parent wrote.
“The thing is, I would bet a LOT of moms (or even parents in general) feel this way, but not everyone is strong enough to admit it. You’re not horrible; you’re strong AF and amazing, too. Don’t forget it,” one user commented.
“You’re a real mom and a good mom, and I’m sending you a big, affirming hug right now,” another user posted.
“I wonder not about you as a mother but you as a person. If parenting isn’t doing it for you, what feels good? What would you be doing instead? Is work getting your identity/esteem/fulfillment needs met? Or something else? What are you uniquely good at? Whatever it is, I’d suggest doing more of that and finding/following that and see if that makes secondary shifts in your parenting,” suggested one user.
“I think your [11-year-old daughter] is old enough for you to sit her down and have a talk, tell her what you told us. Tell her you find motherhood completely overwhelming and it isn’t actually their fault, you’re just built different than a lot of moms, and you often feel like you aren’t cut out for the job … Sometimes just being completely honest with your kids, even if you have to soften the blow by using different language than you would with adults, is exactly what you both need. Telling them this might help them to realize you really do care about them and you’re trying your best not to be a toxic mom,” suggested one parent.
“Doing some mindfulness stuff helped me stay more in the moment, in my body. I also set limits with my kiddo such as, ‘sure, I’ll play this game with you for an hour, then we are going to read or play on our own for 30 minutes and we can have some quiet time.’ Also every Sunday morning, [my husband] takes over and I leave the house. Go outside. Go up the park. Go scuba dive. Kayak. Jog. Whatever there is to do that involves me being involved with NO ONE. I think the fact that you’re aware of this means you’ll be fine. You’re probably doing better than you think mama. Just do the best you can,” one user wrote.
“I know exactly what you mean and I can tell you where to start, as doing only this has helped me exponentially: Speak kindly to yourself. Even if you don’t believe it at first, tell yourself, ‘I am a good person. I love these kids. I DO have the ability to shape them into good humans. They love me unconditionally, just for who I am and so should I.’ You will eventually believe it because it IS TRUE!! Good luck and big hugs!” another parent wrote.
“Here’s what you need to do: sit down and have a long think about what you LIKE to do with your kids. Then make sure you do that regularly. You are not expected to be all things to your kids all the time. Nobody can do that. But find one positive thing, and focus on that. Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Just outsource! Like, I loved doing art with my mom as a kid — but my kids just make a GIANT mess and it stresses me out. So I let my mom do it! When they go to grandma’s, they do art!” one parent suggested.
“So I actually had a toxic mom, who was neglectful and abusive. Let me tell you, she would never have been able to write this post. You show so much thoughtfulness, care, and most importantly, self awareness. You’re seeking solidarity and feedback and ways to get better. You know your girls, however difficult, are amazing, and you are focused on working on yourself… Want to know what my mother would have written? A rant on how us kids are absolutely and unequivocally the problem,” one user shared.
TheAntiMama expressed her gratitude for everyone’s support and advice. “What an INCREDIBLE group this is! What an outpouring of support! Talking to all of you really has been a balm for my heart. It was just what I needed yesterday and made today better. Thank you for sharing your stories, your empathy and your understanding. I’m happy I found this sub. Gives me hope. Hardest part is being alone. But I’m not alone … Thank you Mamas!”
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