my breaking point

I should have written about this earlier, but I think the emotions were too raw, the wound too fresh. I am not perfect. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m even good.


My breaking point is apparently at 9:45pm on a Friday night.

It comes without warning, on the heels of a seemingly great week.

It comes just days after a date night and an afternoon spent blogging by myself in a coffee shop.

It comes when OBaby has been sleeping for 3 hours and wakes up screaming.

It comes when I try so, so hard to hold it together but I can’t find the means.

It comes in a dark room with a crying baby when I feel like the world is closing in on me.

It comes, and suddenly, I am claustrophobic. Suddenly I must get out.

DanO was home, so I could and I did.

I said frighteningly few words to him as I grabbed my coat and purse and ran.

I ran and it makes me cry right here and now to admit it.

I ran to the car, still wearing my house slippers, collected myself for a moment and then drove.

Where do you go at 10:00pm on a Friday?

Where do you go when you feel insufficient?

Where do you go when your baby is screaming and you have nothing left to give?

Where do you go when having nothing left to give hurts so, so bad?

You go to your friends. You go to your God. You go to a cup of tea.

I played it back for her over a steaming mug.

I could not express how much I felt like a failure.

I could not express the guilt I had for being there, in her kitchen and not in the nursery.

I could not express what it was that made me flee.

I could not express how glad I was that she was there.

That was last Friday and I am still trying to forgive myself.

I still love, absolutely love being OBaby’s mom.

I still need to be honest that it is hard at times.

Heart breakingly, tear jerkingly, scarily hard.

I still have a lot to learn.

52 Responses to “my breaking point”

  1. Cindy

    Oh honey, I love you so much. You’re making me cry right here at my desk in my cave at work. I love you more than I can express through a keyboard and I think you’re an awesome mom and I can’t imagine doing what you do and still managing to look adorable all the time. Hugs, darling.

  2. Becky (Princess Mikkimoto)

    Oh honey! 1) I’m SOOOO proud of you for writing this. 2) You have no idea how many women you will help by writing this 3) I was there too but since I didn’t have a DanO I ran to my closet and closed the door on my toddler as I screamed “MOMMY NEEDS A MINUTE!”

    My heart goes out to you because I KNOW you are THE BEST Mom… and you are doing a great job. Kiss that baby and please, don’t feel guilty… feel real.

  3. Kim

    Oh sweetheart, we have ALL been there. This parenting is the toughest gig ever and anyone who tells you any different…well they’re not parents.

    Be gentle with yourself (easier said than done) and be sure you take time for you. It’s good to recognize your limitations and do what you can.

    We all have our breaking point. You are so lucky you have such a wonderful husband who is willing to and can help you with the baby.

    Take a breath, drink some more tea and know that you are not alone.

  4. Laura

    First of all, you are so very brave and I love that you wrote this. Second of all, I am positive you are a good mom. I have done that exact same thing. I felt terrible too, but really, it is just like you said, you have nothing else to give. You left him safe with your husband and you just did it for the good of the whole family. There is no shame in that.

  5. M. Howell

    I’ll second Cindy. We should do a girls night. Also, it isn’t just you. I don’t have a kid, but having nannied for an infant there were times when I just had to stick him in his crib, shut the door, go upstairs and turn on some music.

  6. Liz

    I know this…the pain, the guilt, the need to escape…but it doesn’t mean we aren’t good parents just real ones. And they pass and we are renewed in the most surprising places. Thanks.

  7. Mama23Bears

    we have all been there. it’s ok! it seems that it’s part of being home for so long during the day and really having suprisingly little time left for yourself at nite. this is my 3rd baby and although i should be well rehearsed at being a stay at home mom, there are always times i HAVE to get away! i love my kids all so much but i know in order for me to be the best i can be, i need to do things sometimes for myself. (((HUGS))) to you and forgive yourself.
    thanks for sharing your imperfectness. makes me feel better about myself.

  8. Adventures In Babywearing

    We all have those moments, sometimes I’m camped out on the edge, tent pitched there for WEEKS. Seriously.

    There are times my mind flashes and I am hanging by my fingernails, and other times I feel like someone is about to push me on over.

    Having friends is your safety net. You need to be able to go somewhere, talk to someone, reach out, hand hubby the baby and run with your slippers on. It’s absolutely allowed.


  9. Corinne

    We have ALL been there.
    My breaking point tends to be at roughly 3:24 AM… I’ve been known to yell, hand children over to my husband, and stomp my way into the bathroom and lock the door, because there’s no place else to go at that hour.

    And it’s that claustrophobic feeling. I hear you, loud and clear. And unless you’ve been there, you have no idea that you have that spot in your being. But it’s there, and it’s ok that it’s there.

    Big hugs to you! And I’m so proud of you for writing about it and putting it out there!

  10. Boy Crazy (@claritychaos)

    OH, honey. It’s still so brand new for you. Be easy on yourself, as gentle with yourself as you would be to a friend.

    I remember having to run. I remember feeling like I didn’t have a friend who would get it, so I went by myself with a book of honest essays written by parents to a restaurant and had beer and pizza by myself, reading through my tears.

    Your honesty is helping more new mamas than you realize. I look back to my journals from that first year of motherhood, and I think — wow, the support I could have gotten, what I could have shared if I’d been blogging then.

    You have DanO. Take those breaks when you need them. Take the breaks without guilt. It does not make you less of a mother for needing a break, for tiring of it or breaking at times. There is no one out there who doesn’t tire or break. It’s just that everyone doesn’t talk about it.


  11. Mae

    This is beautiful and important and I’m proud of you for putting it out here. It’s easy to feel in those moments when we reach our breaking points that we are alone, because many mothers don’t disclose their less than perfect moments. Why we’re all so afraid them I still don’t know, but we prove every day that we are. In this case I would encourage you to look on this as both a struggle and a victory; you were overwhelmed but you asked for help and you put your son first. Try to remember that the act of asking for help when you felt that you could not carry on was a true and brave act of motherhood. You are not a failure and forgiveness is not needed. You protected not just your child but your relationship with him.

  12. Erin

    You’re not alone. I reached my breaking point at midnight last night. After a full day of work, the
    baby who had been screaming since 9:45 was too much. I knew he needed mommy and comfort, but I just couldn’t do it.

  13. Tara

    These moments are so normal, sometimes no matter how much we want to we have nothing to give in a moment. Being a mommy is all about giving we often forget about ourselves and then run dry. You are an awesome mom and I know how tough it is to admit we are not perfect but it is inspiring to others to see that as wonderful as being a mommy is, it is hard and we struggle. Please release yourself of the guilt, this is all part of the mommyhood package.

  14. Lindsy

    Been there, done that – so many times! Thank GOD for friends like that who will let you in and listen, you know? What a blessing that is ~ oh my word.

    Don’t you just wonder – how the heck doed 18 kids and counting Mom do it and not lose grip – CRAZY!

    I think it’s just important that we (Mommies) try to learn where our triggers are (which is sounds like you are) – to explain them to our hubbies and do our best to avoid them. I hear that you had a date night and a bloggy night but still – there are weeks where for whatever reason you need more and thats OK. Doesn’t make you a bad Mom or anything – just means you need that during that week – more time, more prayer, more whatever.

    I remember when mine was young I would say – “Tim, I just need out, I need a run or I need to go somewhere that I can call one of my sisters in an un-interrupted environment” I would usually add “please don’t ask me right now – I just need to go”. Thankfully he understood as it sounds DanO does. I remember looking back on my behavior and thinking, maybe I am not cut out for this or maybe we did this parenthood thing too soon, etc. etc. etc. Girrrrrrlllll, don’t you just know thats exactly where the devil wants us: questioning and doubting ourselves. Ugh!

    Be encouraged – it sooooo gets easier. I still question some of my behavior sometimes and I still need an “out” at times but not nearly as often because there’s not nearly as much CRYING – Praise Jesus the crying becomes less often and the sleeping gets better. Precious sleep can do so much for restoration. Anyhow – I hope you just feel a big ole’ bloggy hug from all us fellow Moms who have felt or are feeling exactly what you are! Hugs!

  15. Sarah

    Thank you for sharing this, love.
    Don’t beat yourself up. That is the worst treatment for mom guilt. Forgive yourself for doing what every single mother EVER has had to do, walk away. Sometimes even run away to get perspective and calm down. I have done it, I still do it. I anticipate doing it many times more in the future. Life gets overwhelming whether or not you have a child and even more overwhelming when you do. You did the right thing.
    Take some time for your self to just be.
    And make sure Dan gets some too. I found the trick to much needed “me” time was to make sure my husband could have it too.
    We love you and miss you!
    Sarah, Mike and Lucy

  16. Mandy

    Oh sweetie! You wouldn’t be a mother if you didn’t have these feelings! We all have them (as you can tell from the previous comments) It is NOT NORMAL to be happy, stress free and feel like you have control of the situation all the time! Everyone needs a break, every now and then. There have been days that I have literally walked out of the door the second my husband got home from work, telling him I just need to go somewhere and take a break. ( Usually I head to target to shop or the bookstore to read) I don’t have any friends where I live unfortunately, but how wonderful that you do!

    We too have been having some rough nights, teething I believe , And when he wakes up screaming for the second or third time for the night I feel so lost, and so guilty for not going in there and picking him up right away to try and comfort him. Thanks for this, it’s nice to hear other moms are going through the same struggles as I do.

    And just remember it does get better, so much better. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very easy to loose it with a toddler in the house. However you feel much less guilty when you can look them in the eyes and say, “Mommy’s going to a friends or Mommy is going to go shopping.” and they understand and they just reply “OK Mommy, I love you, Bye!”

    You seem like such a wonderful mother to OBaby and an awesome wife to Dan0.

  17. Elizabeth

    I know how you feel! I’m glad you could get out. You clearly love OBaby and Dan and are an awesome wife and Mommy. Don’t doubt yourself!

  18. Jen

    We all have moment where we are feeling this way. It is so hard to find the time you need to still be you, when you are a mommy to such an adorable little person! I totally understand where you are coming from and like you I have had to escape too.. however with the job my husband has and no family real close, I resort to the closet, basement or even just outside for a few minutes to take a few deep breaths. And I try to get together with other mommies regularly to talk, and just be me. It make you a better mommy when you have time to yourself.

  19. Zakary

    We all have been there indeed.

    I think you did do the right thing by leaving the house. And you shouldn’t feel bad about it.


  20. Vanessa

    Pretty much ditto what everyone else said.
    You are doing such a wonderful job and one thing that has helped me SO MUCH is knowing that I am the best mother for MY KIDS. God gave me my boys knowing that there is no one else better suited to be their mother. Amazing, isn’t it?
    There is no one else better suited to be OBaby’s Mom as you.
    You are not alone. (As is SO CLEAR from all of the comments you’ve received!)
    AND you HAVEN’T failed OBaby. Failing would have been hitting or throwing OBaby. You protected yourself and OBaby by leaving the situation. That is a GOOD THING.
    You are not perfect. But you are the best Mommy in the world for OBaby.

  21. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    I haven’t read all of the responses yet, but I want you to listen to me very, very carefully, AllisonO. GRACE IS FOR MAMAS, TOO. Grace, grace, grace. Walk into it. Sit down in it. Soak it in.

    You cannot and will not ever be able to be all things to BabyO or to anyone else in your life. If that were the case, we would have no need for the Cross. In your weakness . . . He is.

  22. Ryley

    I’m SO glad you had somewhere to go.
    I feel so guilty when I have these moments because I’m not home very long with Miles. So why can’t I just make it through a couple hours? I feel like I break to easily.
    You arent alone (obviously) we all just hit that wall sometimes.

  23. laura @ hollywood housewife

    I’m so glad you wrote this. Please be grateful, now that you’re out of the panic of it all, that you have a friend’s kitchen to run to.

    While I was reading this, I was scanning my friendship rolodex and I don’t know where I would go. It’s not that I don’t have dear friends, I just don’t have dear friends easily accessible at 10pm on a Friday night.

    For that, I envy you. For the rest of it, I totally understand.

  24. Terri

    Thank you for writing this! I felt like I was reading a post that I could have written myself. We have an 8 month old that still gets up several times per night. Last week I reached my breaking point when my husband came up from the basement (where he sleeps most of the time so he can be rested for work) in the morning to find me bawling, holding our son, and saying “I can’t do this anymore!! I am soooo exhausted from 8 months of no sleep.” I feel so guilty about it, and I’m glad to know I’m not alone. My husband has been helping with nights all along, but since last week he has been doing it all himself (bless his heart). Yay for supportive husbands!

    Thank you again for your beautiful post…

  25. McKt

    Girl, we have all been there. It is so great that you were able to identify that you needed to get away. So glad hubby was there to take over. I hate how we wait until we are to that point to ask for a break. My second son had colic, asthma and chronic ear infections. I started staying at home after he was born and I had a 14 month old. There were days where I felt like I was drowning. I promise it gets better. Also, we figure out how to deal with it better.

  26. Jenny Swan

    I want you to know Sunday night I did this very same thing to my husband. And, my baby is my second.

    And I didn’t go to a friends house. I went somewhere not as good. :)

    We are mothers, but we are humans. I think sometimes we empty ourselves too much, forgetting if we let ourselves get so empty we won’t have anything to pour out. That’s not another to do for your list, just a reminder that you are important too.

    Hang in there. They eventually sleep through the night, they eventually eat solid food, the time will come when it will be much easier.

    Praying that your sweet spirit will be renewed and restored. :)

  27. rebecca d

    Thanks for being so honest with us. I wish I could tell you this would be the only time you feel like a failure as a mom… the only time you will feel like it’s all too much… it won’t be, but as long as those moments are the exception and not the norm you are better then fine… actually what you are is human, and grace will see you through. I think God knew what he was doing when he made it so that children’s cognitive memory doesn’t kick in until about 7 or 8 years old. That is our (the parents) learning curve… you see, by the time he clearly remembers everything you will be a seasoned parent with lot of confidence to spare…

  28. Stephanie

    Oh Alison…if only you could peak into the homes of each mom when that sweet little baby wants nothing more than to scream. You would find that they too have their breaking points, because we are all human. None of us are perfect…but what makes you a GREAT mom is that you admit it and run BACK home after you have calmed down. Thank you for being SO brave in posting this – it reminds me too that as moms we are not alone. Give yourself some credit for taking the time to cool down before going back and loving on your sweet OBaby…and remember, you are not alone.

  29. Megan

    Please, please, please do not feel bad about feeling this way! I think that every mom goes through this and not everyone is brave enough to talk about it the way you just did. I went through this a few months ago when my baby was about the same age as yours and I am sure that it will happen again and again. But as long as you have family to help out and support you, you will be fine! The best thing is to set aside some “me” time for yourself every week. Even if you don’t go anywhere, even if you just take a nap or watch tv on the couch, let someone else take care of the baby for a while. I used to feel guilty for wanting to be away from my daughter but my mom told me that she needs a break from me as much as I need a break from her – and it’s true! I’m sure she probably gets tired of seeing me all day every day, and she needs to spend time with her grandparents while they are still around. Hang in there!

  30. Amanda

    Im so sorry! I wish I knew what to say or how to help… I just hope that you were able to find a way that worked for you in dealing with stuff. Every mom needs an outlet when the going gets tough!

    Thanks for being so raw and honest. You are so special!


  31. Doll Clothes Gal Pal

    You are not alone! There always comes a point where you feel like you are so tired, drained and defeated. I think all moms have those. Its not easy raising a child, i only now truly understand what sacrifice my mom did for me.

    Stay strong, and tomorrow is a better day!

  32. CompassionateLady

    I think every Mommy in the world has been in that spot. At least once. I know I sure have. And lately, at that.

    You’re still a good momma.

    Thanks for sharing!

  33. Recovering Procrastinator

    Thank you for being brave and honest enough to post this. I’ve had “need to run” moments as well but was too scared of others’ reactions to do so. I’m glad you had somewhere/someone to go to when you needed it.

  34. Frances

    Oh my gosh…I need to echo everyone’s responses by saying that you are not a bad mother, and of course we have all been there. My daughter is 3.5 years old, and I remember those days like they were yesterday…sad but true. It’s hard being a stay at home mom!
    My husband always seems more patient than I am, but that’s because he gets to leave the house for 8 hours a day :-) Also, he “doesn’t hear” the kiddo at 2:00am, but that’s ok b/c he is out all day supporting our little family.
    Hang in there, I can tell from your blog that you are doing a phenomenal job as a mom.

  35. Sarah

    Dear Allison,
    I wish I had something really great to say that would make you feel better, but 1) I’m not a mother yet and 2) all 35 mothers who commented before me have pretty much covered everything I would say. So instead I’ll just say that I think–scratch that–I KNOW you’re a great mom and OBaby is sooooo blessed to have you. I also know that I’ll pray you won’t reach your breaking point again for a very,very long time. :)

    Love,Sarah ♥

  36. Kelly @ Love Well

    Oh friend. I echo Megan’s refrain: Grace, grace and more grace. Some days, I wonder where we get the idea that this will work perfectly. Nothing is easy this side of heaven. We are imperfect, we live in a world captured by sin. Frustration mounts and boils and sometimes carries us away. It’s not pretty, but it’s normal. All we can do is take it back to Jesus and let Him put the pieces together again.

    After I read this post, I came across a link to this article in Christianity Today — The Myth of the Perfect Parent. It’s so wise. And the link to the author’s book intrigued me even more — Parenting is Your Highest Calling, and 8 Other Myths that will Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.

    I guess what I’m saying is — as the comments clearly show, you’re not alone. None of us are perfect. This isn’t easy. Get help when you need it and bathe yourself in grace.

  37. Elaine

    Oh honey, you’re only human and that’s why you have these emotions and feelings. Let’s face it, being a mother IS hard and challenging and you did the right thing by taking a break. I’ve had to do it too and if there’s a mother out there saying she hasn’t well, she’s lying. Good for you for getting it out in writing too and sharing it with this community that as I can see from the comments, is very understanding and can totally relate. Hugs to you as you continue on your Motherhood journey.

  38. Elaine

    P.S. Have I told you lately that I love your blog and that it makes me smile pretty much every day? Well both are true. Just wanted you to know…

  39. Tara @ This Military Mama

    I have been there, more then once. I still remember the first time I broke down. I felt guilt and wretched for it but I need to let it out and get out too. I couldn’t stand to do one more thing. I felt so overwhelmed.

    So you are totally normal for this to happen! You are still an awesome mom! You are still an amazing woman.

    We give alot as moms and sometimes we have to stop and rejuvenate our selves, be an adult, eat a grown up meal with out baby food flying everywhere, and to have adult conversation instead of baby talk. You learn to know when a breaking point is coming and sometimes you don’t see it coming at all and that’s ok!

    I hope sitting and talking with your friend was helpful and I hope you were able to find your center a bit. Try to take some time for you this week. Get a manicure or see a movie with a girlfriend. Spoil yourself in some little way. It’s good for you, good for your baby, and good for your man to take care of yourself :)

  40. Ann's Rants

    And the thing is? You did EXACTLY what you should’ve done. This is something you should be patting yourself on the back for==a very healthy release.

    Motherhood is the best but the HARDEST job HANDS DOWN.

    Yes, I have rocked that baby a little to hard and seen how easy it would be to completely fall off the cliff.

    Keep doing what you are doing==running when it is safe to do so and into safe hands.


  41. Katherine D.

    I found you via the TopMommyBlogs site while I was voting for someone else, and your description there (met at 18, married at 21, kid at 23) is exactly me. Glad to know I’m not the only one… :)

    My baby boy is 4 months old, and I have days exactly like the one you described in this post. I feel so bad for feeling that way that I make myself deal with it until my hubby forces me to leave and take some time for myself. I’m still working on the whole “that doesn’t make me a bad mommy” part… Thank you for sharing.

  42. lea Jones

    WOW, good post. i did just that when my 3 months old screamed and screamed and screamed, and i didn’t even know if i could love her. Husband was gone on a 3 week trip, so i took my little girl, put her in the car seat, drove to my mom’s house, dumped the baby on her and ran to my little girl room upstairs and cried and cried.
    I am so glad you shared i thought i was the only one who dealt with, and thinking about these moments still make me feel guilty.



  43. Miriam

    It is so evident from everything you write that your child is totally and utterly surrounded by love, and he will have so much inner security from that.

    You are a mum (and a great one at that from the sounds of it all), and you are also a wife, a daughter, a friend… a YOU! And sometimes, to be the best you that you can be, it’s important to take time out to recharge yourself and invest in all the other things which make up your wonderful and complex identity. You will be better for it, and even more able to then give your darling son everything he needs.

    It’s not selfish and there’s nothing to forgive yourself for; you did the right thing for all of you. It’s so important to take time so that you have all the resources you need to meet the needs of those people who love you, and you love. No guilt!

    If there’s such a thing as ‘normality’, then believe me, you’re totally normal!

  44. jpshaw

    Wow! I read everyone’s comments. It’s my first time here. I’m putting you on my blog because I do not think you realize (though hopefully) reading all this wonderful comments by others you will the strength and bravery it took to write what you did.

    As mothers they never tell us how hard it will be. How scared we will feel. How alone at times. How that even though we know the babes need us there are times we are drained, have nothing left to give, feel the guilt like a knife and must must… spread it somewhere so we can move on.

    I think by reading your posts here you are a great mom! You are sharing and giving and honest and your child will realize this quality in you even if you don’t see it yourself.

    Thank you for posting your feelings. God Bless!


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