Looking for compassion when all I feel is anger

257 days without yelling, 108 days of loving more to go!

Dear Judgment,

Do not find my son or me after this post. Writing this was hard. I barely scratched the surface; I basically tip toed around the issues because I don’t want to write about them (too hard? too embarrassed?) and because I know you exist. I know that no matter what, you will sadly be put on my son and me. And I don’t want that, because our struggles right now are hard enough. I don’t need people thinking I am a bad parent or that he is a bad kid. Because he isn’t. He is a gift to me, to this world. He, just like all of us, has some struggles. So please go bestow yourself upon someone else, like a celebrity wearing a horrific dress.

The Orange Rhino


I just can’t take it anymore.

I am trying so hard to be patient, to be understanding, to be loving, to be calm but I just can’t take it anymore. The defiance, the anger, the anxiety, the belligerence, the disrespect, the hitting, kicking, spitting, throwing, all the sh*t that comes with having sensory issues, all the sh*t that comes with being wonderfully emotional.

Any of it and all of it.

I can’t take another day of it.

Because it is hard, exhausting, demoralizing and heartbreaking.

I love my son, I really do. But right now, this moment, this day, this week, this MONTH I am so not in love with his behavior. Even though I understand the source of it, even though I have witnessed it all before and know that we have learned how to work through it, even though I know it isn’t intentional per say, but that it’s his way of saying “Mommy, I’m struggling and I need help” I still can’t take another day of it.

I know that my son doesn’t handle change well and that three major changes at once were an absolute attack on his system. I know that he is a perfectionist and that having to perform at school is an absolute attack on his system. I know that having three loud brothers running around him, testing his sensory issues, is a constant attack on his system. I know that mommy getting more and more frustrated with him is an attack on his system.

I know that in order to help him I need to not yell, to not raise my voice, to not hit him.

I know I need to show no response, positive or negative, that I just need to remain completely calm as he punches me in the face (accidentally or not). That I need to remain calm as he throws a scooter at me. That I need to remain calm as he says to me “I hate you so much I want to shoot you” or “I’m so angry I want to scratch my face until it bleeds.”

Yes, I know I need to remain calm, but right now, honestly, all I want to do is punch him back, throw the scooter back, scream at him “I HATE IT WHEN YOU ARE LIKE THIS!”

I hate when I can’t help you without worry of being hurt.
I hate when you scare me with your words, with your pain.
I hate that you are struggling so much and clearly want to stop the madness, but can’t.
I hate that no other parent seems to have a child like this, that I feel completely alone.
I hate that I am embarrassed by your behavior because people don’t understand you, us.
I hate that I understand your behavior because I have the same struggles.
I hate that I taught you to throw when angry, to yell nastily when angry.

I hate it all so much.

And yet I love you so much.

And that is what I hate the most.

Because right now, all I want do is find compassion and love and instead all I am finding is anger. Lots and lots of anger. And it is spilling into every aspect of my life. I am shorter and shorter with not just you, but your brothers. I am eating and eating and eating, trying to suffocate the anger which just makes me feel worse. And oh am I closer and closer to doing something a lot worse than yelling, something I would regret for the rest of my life (hitting him, that is).

I want to just grab my son in my arms and rock him like a baby. I want to just cry with him, to tell him that it will get easier, that the need to do something right the first time will ease up, that all the noise will soften, that the inability to stop a sensory attack once it starts will get easier.

But I can’t.

Because I am thirty something and I am still figuring it all out.

I can’t cry with my son and comfort him because I don’t know what to tell him except that I can’t take another day of it.

“It” being seeing him in pain and feeling such anger towards him.

I love him too much to have such anger towards him.

So today I will find compassion, no matter how hard I have to look for it because that is what he needs right now. I will stop judging him, his behavior, and start focusing on the wonderfully emotional and loving kid that he is. I will tell him that I will endure as many hard moments and hard days and hard months with him as I need to because I love him. And I will cry with him too and tell him it will get better, that as hard as it is I won’t give up on him, on us.

Tomorrow is Favorite Song Friday and the song I will share is a beautiful complement to this post and appropriately so will be dedicated to my son. Check back tomorrow for it! And thank you for not judging. 

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27 thoughts on “Looking for compassion when all I feel is anger

  1. “Making the decision to have a child – It’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”- Elizabeth Stone

    It is far harder than we ever imagined that it would be, right?? We ache for our children, in the good times and the not so good times. That has to count for something. I know that for me, even when I am trapped in a horrible moment of despair and no one on earth can help me, it feels better to know that on the periphery of my vision are people who WANT to help me, even if they can’t.

    I am sure that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, but not just in the ways that you mention- not just because he suffers from some of the same challenges that YOU do, but also because he walks through life with many of the same strengths that you do. You may not be able to be helpful in the way that you want to be helpful right now, but I have to believe that a living, breathing example of someone who has been there and survived and gone on to be happy and healthy must give him some hope.

    This age is so hard, as it is the one where we start having to not get in the way… to stand back and watch them relive some of our most painful memories in their own way. He will make mistakes, and he will have failures, just as you did… we all did. It will be “death of a million paper cuts” for you to watch him struggle and hurt. You will do what you can. And time will go by, and he will learn how to be himself in a way that works for him. You are showing up, and caring, and that matters a lot.

  2. This is one of the bravest, most heart-wrenching, honest, well-written posts I’ve ever come across in my online meanderings.

    Screw Judgment. Let’s celebrate Fate for knowing that you are the perfect parent for your son – that your intense self-reflection, sensitivity and strength are exactly what he needs, even when you feel like anything but. I can’t even imagine how difficult this all must be, but I am in awe of you, and how you are able to voice what so many parents (struggling with far less complex issues) are likely thinking, but are too scared to admit.

    You are amazing.

    • Aw, thanks. Wonder who helped inspire me to share what I believe 🙂 You see I know this girl who has tackled a really hard issue…But seriously, thank you. I appreciate it so very much. My hope for us moms that we can all start to feel more confident to share our deepest struggles only to find that we are not alone and that instead, we can support and love each other.

    • I just came here today when I saw a comment you made on Momastery. Sister, you really hit the nail on the head here with me, especially this post. I am one of those struggling with FAR less and I HAVE lost my temper physically many times. I’ve squeezed a sweet little arm a bit too hard. I’ve patted the backs of crying children a bit too hard. I’ve scooped a child up a bit too gruffly. And I’ve hit back during a tantrum on behalf of myself or on behalf of my other child. And it’s almost like it becomes harder to stay in control the more it happens. It’s like a punch in the gut to think about this. Maybe that’s what I need. I will say this though: Although I am just finding you, I have been trying to stop yelling and in general losing my composure with my kids after a particularly difficult chunk of 2012. You know what I stumbled upon that is an INCREDIBLE help to me? I set my laptop screen saver (sits in the main part of the house all day) to show pictures of my daughter as a baby, before my son was born. It was the happiest most love-filled year and a half of my life. It reminds me of her innocence and his and even though I’m not staring at it constantly it just fills me up with love that hangs around…to look at those pictures. Another resource I’ve found for good alternatives to yelling…and where I first became inspired to give it up, was the book Parenting With Love and Logic (and the much more appropriate for my life book Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood.) It’s not for everyone, but it’s given me back some respect. From myself and my kiddos. I’ve always called parental love catastrophic. And in such strange ways that catastrophe manifests itself. Thank you for this blog. It’s going to help me be a better mom.

      • I’m also just finding this amazing blog and cannot stop reading … so much of what Orange Rhino is sharing could come from my own life …4 boys in 6 years … the excuses for the yelling, the triggers …. but I wanted to comment that I feel your pain and “punch in the gut” when I think of how I’ve handled so many situations with my boys by yelling, being too rough, hurting but not hitting … with the excuse that they are making me crazy, when I’ve finally realized that I am the only one in control of my own behavior …. I’ve also turned to Love and Logic as a resource to help me develop better parenting skills …. thank you for sharing yourself in this post, and Thank you to The Orange Rhino for providing us moms with a place to support each other

  3. Dear Orange Rhino,

    You are a parent, and have one of one of the hardest jobs ever. Your child is difficult, yet you still see the lovable parts of him. Your emotions are strong and sometimes negative, yet you try to contr

    • Thanks Judgement. Cute name by the way! Yes I do see the loveable parts of him that is easy there are a million! Thanks for reading!

  4. You are a courageous wonderful person to write so eloquently and honestly. Is there nothing that soothes him at these times? My son rages at me sometimes too, with words and kicks…it is hard to stay calm…once I kicked a plastic drawer across his room because he was beating it with a stick horse…(“You want to rage? You want to see rage?” I yelled (yep, yelled) it shocked him so much, and we both decided two wrongs do not make a right…then I taped up the drawer with blue tape (instead of clear) to remind us of what I did and how we were both wrong at that moment…we forgave each other, hugged, and have not had a meltdown since then…but that was only 9 days ago! The sight of his big blue six year old eyes trying to understand what I did and how it related to what he was doing….so hard to fathom…parenting is such a mystery sometimes…I end up asking God “Lord please help me to not screw this up too badly!” He hears me. Hang in (I know, everybody says that)…but what’s the alternative? hugs

  5. Oh Sweety. How could some one judge you negatively for this? you are doing such an amazing job with such a difficult task, and I am in awe of how you get through each day.

  6. This brought tears to my eyes. If we could all be supportive of one another and our unique struggles, there would be a whole lot of happier mommas out there. I applaud your honesty and ability to share your feelings in a way that let me experience your daily struggles with your son. Sending the most positive thoughts out to you and your family…

    • Thank you so much. YES that is my hope. That we can all support each other more. Can you imagine the impact? Happier moms, happier kids, happier husbands, a happier place. Thank you for reading. Enjoy your weekend!

  7. You are as beautiful as you write. Often I want to hug you because I feel so connected to you and your family. I do not even know how to reply to this post because it is exactly what I am going through right this minute. I am so exasperated by it all and exasperated by a broken system that failed my husband who has the similar issues. It is so easy to forget that they have a special uniqueness to them beyond the challenging ones that make them a rare gift and an alternative insight into the world. One the subject of judgement we all need to be less judgemental of parents because different does not mean wrong. There is not enough compassion in the world but sometimes I feel like if cannot pull it together for my kids (stop yelling, be more patient, show compassion to them, help them overcome obstacles etc.) then how can I expect anything different from everyone else. To get my rant short, we judge ourselves the most harshly.

    • Yes we do judge ourselves the most. Perhaps the biggest thing we can teach out kids is compassion but also forgiveness of ourselves 🙂 that we will make mistakes and will judge ourselves as parents too harshly….wishing you a great weekend. Thank you for reading and the beautiful comment.

  8. Oh my. I am almost in tears reading this. Because you are speaking the thoughts in my head every day. You are not alone. And I will never, ever judge you, though I judge myself about every hour. And thanks for encouraging all of us to find the compassion, the joy

    • I am not alone and neither are you. I judge myself every hour, even more proof we are not alone. Thank you for reading and stopping by. I hope you come back soon and I hope that you have a good weekend.

  9. Yesterday I was reading blogs and wondering what all of their perfect lives would look like if they were raising two autistic children like I am. And I enabled myself. Thank you for posting this and showing me that there are other mothers out there going through tough times with tough children and still seeking beauty in the mess. It is difficult. It is worth it.

  10. You are brave and wonderful and I am thankful for you and your honesty. We all feel this way towards our children, whether they have diagnosed sensory issues or not, you are not alone. I feel this way often and you being brave enough to write this is comforting to me. Your entire blog and what you’ve done is comforting and helpful to me. Thank you. And I’d hug you right now if I were where you were. 🙂

  11. Thank you for this post, and for your blog, and fb page…….. a friend sent me the link tonight, and God knew that it was exactly what i needed to hear. We are in the middle of school holidays here, and i never cope well during holidays, with the kids home 24/7. My 2 kids (8 & 5) fight continually, and the 5 year old has lots of food intolerance issues, which results in him acting like he has ADHD and/or autism when he’s eaten something he shouldn’t have. We are yet to work out exactly what affects him, but we know that artificial colours are the worst. When he is “normal” he is the sweetest, most loving and affectionate child on earth. But that can change in an instant. Finally this week I lost it – I was looking after a friend’s 11 yr old daughter and taking the 3 of them shopping. Miss 11 started on about how naughty my kids were being, and how well behaved her family was – making me feel like i was a terrible parent and her parents were perfect (not true, but how i perceived the conversation). I ended up yelling at her (and swearing at her, i am ashamed to admit) in the middle of the grocery store….. at various other times this week i have yelled, smacked my kids, and at the worst point, i felt like driving in front of a semi – it felt like the only way to solve this was to kill us all. We had a lovely family day out today, but again, he ate something that affected him and the whole drive home was unbearable. I sat in the car this afternoon thinking “I can’t do this any more, I can’t handle this child, I can’t put up with this crap, I can’t work out how to fix it, and I don’t want to look after him any more” – and then i came across this post……. thank you for reminding me that I love him too much to have such anger towards him. thank you for reminding me to find compassion, that it isn’t his fault that he is acting like this – that he is finding this hard too. and thank you for the 365 day challenge. at this point i can’t even imagine going one day without yelling, but i am going to try. and I am going to ask God to help me to overcome my anger. thank you, and God bless you!!

  12. I think my son may have sensory issues. He’s getting screened in about 3 weeks. Everything you have just described about your son rings so true with my son. He’s 3.5 right now and exhibits so many of the same characteristics you just mentioned. Is there anyway you can email me so we can talk a bit further about this? Everyone thinks I’m crazy for getting him screened, but I swear there’s something more to him than just being “an intense, strong willed little boy”. I think you may be the answer to my prayers. 0713sr@gmail.com.

  13. I just found you and I could have wrote this post myself. My difficult son,he’s 5 years old, the 5th of 6 rips my heart out all the time. He has aspergers and epilepsy and he has no fear and little self control. He nearly died twice due to a near drowning and falling out of a tree both bc of his seizures. Yet he has this love of pushing limits. I yell out of fear and my own frustrations of not having a normal child. I blame my self, my karma, my “fill in the blank”, I just blame me for his condition and brave spirit. But I am learning that the fear that cases me to turn into an Orange Rhino, is not the truth of who I am. Yelling isn’t ME, yelling is a behavior, an act separate from ME. Just like my sons craziness is separate from HIM and is not a true representation of his Wholeness. Thank you for this blog. You don’t know how inspiring it is.

  14. Just found your blog this week. Absolutely love this post – because I LIVE this post. I have 11 kids – 4 of them on the autism spectrum, 3 with sensory issues. Thank you – Day 1, Part 2 starts tomorrow.

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