Ezra,  Motherhood

When the camel’s back just keeps breaking

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I’d like to say that the last straw was the banana getting thrown at me.

But before that, it was the banana peel getting thrown at me.

When the camel's back just keeps breaking

And before that, it was the 20 minutes of his screaming upon being told I wouldn’t dress him because he knows how to do it himself.

And yesterday, it was when they told me he was throwing furniture in the nursery at MOMS.

And the day before that when they told me he couldn’t come back to school while the principal was out of town – after he physically assaulted four other children over the course of two days.

I wish I could quit. Just lay down and say, “That’s the last straw. My back is broken. I give up.”

When the camel's back just keeps breaking

But with this job, there is no laying down. No quitting. No giving up.

So the straws just keep coming and coming and coming and with each hour that passes the camel’s back just keeps on breaking and breaking and breaking.


Tomorrow, we gather with his closest friends to celebrate his birthday. But this broken back hasn’t had the spirit to wrap presents, or express excitement…or really anything.

Today, I found a stack of photos taken on a disposable camera over the course of his first eleven months. I tried to remember what it felt like to love him so wholly and completely. To see cuteness and rolls and sweetness instead of a living terror.

When the camel's back just keeps breaking

And I just couldn’t feel it. Because he had just screamed at me to leave him alone. Then screamed even more when I complied and locked myself in my bedroom.

I hate myself for every moment I’ve yelled and screamed back. But there’s only so much a mommy camel can take.

I leave tear-filled voicemails for the people who are supposed to be getting us answers. I tell them we need help. Today. My fingers pound out an email to a behavioral therapist while tears drip from my eyes:

“I love my child but right now I don’t even want to be around him. I am literally at my wits end. I am crying as I write this. I need some help.”

She lights a fire and gets people to call me back and an appointment is set for Monday. Help is on the way. There is a brief moment of relief.

Then, I wonder how to make it til then.


I spend time throughout the days making a video of the last year of his life. There’s dancing and singing and talk about poop. There are happy moments for sure. I try to feel happy about this four year milestone as I watch him dance across the iMovie screen.

But I’m just exhausted.


It shouldn’t be this hard. Motherhood should be getting easier as he gets older, not harder.

I ask God why. Why from the day he was born does this one have to be so so hard? Why a broken birth experience? Why the recovery complications and postpartum depression? Why breastfeeding struggles? Why nineteen months of sleepless nights? Why the moments of near insanity? Why the turbulence? Why the potty training problems? Why the crying at bedtime every. single. night? Why oh so many days when I simply wasn’t enough

I pound the wall of the breezeway at church with a clenched fist and push back the tears before returning to my seat at the table at MOMS…too tired to get into it with anyone. Too ashamed to even tell them why he’s here and not at school. Unsure how to explain the yelling-and-screaming, friend-hitting, furniture-throwing tiny human who is mine.


The good-little-Christian in me says that there must be something to learn from this – some uber-spiritual reason for this fiery trial.

I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned:

A mom can only take so much before she breaks. And after that, she just keeps breaking and breaking and breaking. 


And so tomorrow, I’ll get up and wrap a few small presents. His daddy will take him hiking. I’ll curl my hair and throw lipgloss on lips that I will try to make sure form into a smile at least a few times. I’ll make sure my camera battery is charged. I will breathe a silent, wordless prayer that in that moment when he sees Cow and the balloons and his closest friends, he will know how very loved he is. 

He’s still my kid. I’m still his mom.

…no matter how broken my back and my heart.


  • Melissa

    This is totally me lately (except the MOMS thing since I work full time and can’t do that). I really thought it would get easier as he got older, but the struggles are just different. And now there’s another on the way and so many days I wonder what in the world was I thinking to have another?? Somehow we get through it, because that’s what moms do. When there are happy/good times I’ve been trying to consciously enjoy them more, hoping that by being more in those moments that he will feel the difference and have more of them.
    Hang in there!

      • Catie

        The best thing we ever did for our oldest (and most difficult) son, was have another baby. Seriously! No, my second baby was not easier (as a baby), and the first year was the hardest I’ve ever been through. But after that, as they formed a bond only brothers can, and my oldest started to realize that the world does not revolve around him (and that that’s OK), things got MUCH better. They are 6 and almost 4 now (we also have an 18 month old- adding the 3rd was an even BETTER transition!!!!) and best buddies. Yes, my oldest is still difficult and strong willed, and likes to learn everything “the hard way” but having 2 little brothers has brought out the protector, the more mature, and the softer. loving side in him. Hope this encourages you!

        • Aprille

          This really DOES encourage me! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! We are really looking forward to expanding our family in the *hopefully* near(ish) future.

  • Stacie

    Hugs and prayers sent your way! You are not alone! I hope that you will find the help you need, once you talk to the therapist. As a teacher, I’ve seen moms go through this and there are people there who are willing to help!

  • onerebelheart

    Oh friend! I have walked this road, am still walking it even now with a daughter who is the ripe old age of 10. I don’t know what makes some children seem to try to do everything in their power to make you stop loving them, but I do now that is not what they want, even though it looks that way. Change the child’s gender in this post and you could have been writing it about my girl, but she reserves her worst behavior for only me and always has. It got to the point where I wondered if I was imagining things because no one else ever saw the things I saw. But the day came when she screamed abuse at me in the car for a full 30 minutes and at one point raised her fist like she wanted to punch me (she didn’t). Like you, I got on the phone and pleaded through sobs for someone to help us. We did go to therapy and it helped, and then we moved to another state and while we’re not in the desperate position we were in before, there are still days when I want to run away. Please, please feel free to email me if you want to talk to someone who has been there. I’m praying for you and your boy!

      • onerebelheart

        Last year I took her to a child psychologist who worked with her on anger issues. She would have been 8-9ears old. In a way, I think her having someone to talk to was as helpful as the therapy itself. For me she gave me some strategies for responding that helped me stay calm whenever my daughter got upset. Most of all, I didn’t feel alone anymore because there was someone to help me. Did it make the problems go away? No, but I felt much more confident in dealing with her. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to seek help though. So many times outsiders think it’s simple bad behavior and common parenting techniques should fix it. They fail to realize that it could be much more complicated and that there are children for whom these common parenting techniques don’t work.

        • Aprille

          Wow. That’s a long time to go without help. As hard as it is for us right now, I feel like with the right intervention we can see improvement before he starts to understand the stigma that goes along with it. We’ve had three evaluations and 2 primary care visits since January and still no answers but I believe over the next few weeks, we can get him some very intensive help. It’s just making it until then.

          I believe he has a bright future, an amazing one even. I try not to lose sight of that, even on the hard days.

          And you are right. Sometimes parenting methods just don’t work!

  • Ashley Ponder Richards

    I understand your pain. I have a stubborn little boy on my hands who got in trouble today at daycare for biting. As the owner told me what he had done I felt 2 inches tall. It was like I was getting in trouble. I was the one who was bad. Bad mama with the little boy who bites. He screams when I walk out of any room yet is almost 2 and still won’t say mama. Some days I break but we just keep going because we have to.

  • Shelly RichardsonShelly R

    This could me my story right now with our 3 year old. She bites, screams, punches, kicks… There is no stopping her. I am not really sure how many times this summer I told my husband I wanted to run away from home. We have started seeing a therapist. No diagnosis. Yet. She has recommended someone to come to our house and work with us. She is not ABA therapist, but works with positive reinforcement. I am praying much for you, and for answers, and for peace. And praying you make through this day with at least one smile.

  • Julie

    I wish I lived by you and could help some. Try to take deep breaths and stay calm, I bet you are capable of a lot of great things even though you are spent. It is wonderful you are getting some expertise on Monday. That is good momma work right there!
    In the meantime, keep things easy: go to a park you know he loves, get donuts for breakfast,…

    And just keep on trying to do your best. Hang in there

  • Stefanie @ Calledhis.com

    Aprille, my heart is breaking for you just reading this post! I do not have children yet, but your suffering and pain and writing of love has made me tear up. You are never alone. No matter how hard it gets, God is feeling every bit of suffering you feel over your son. You love him – this is abundantly clear – but it is okay that you struggle. It is okay that you are not perfect. That is what grace is for – that in your imperfect moments and your trials you will be lifted up by God. I know it does not seem like it now, but God gave you this child because you are strong enough to be his mother.

    You are strong enough to see the good in him, and not to hate him for the bad. Even if you may not like him at some points, when you have nothing left to give, you still love him.

    I wish I had more advice to give besides what you’re already doing, but I am not a mother. But I will leave you with this Scripture and I will pray for you and your family. You are a good mom. Please, please never entertain doubting that!

    2 Corinthians 12:8-10New King James Version (NKJV)

    8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    God takes any failing, any weakness, any struggle, and uses it to magnify Him. Keep your head up, keep seeking help, and no matter how much you want to scream, cry out in prayer.

  • Anonymous

    Your nightmare matches my nightmare in so many ways. I usually don’t do the ‘have you tried this’ approach,’ but I have screamed at my child, been screamed at by my child, had sand thrown in my face, had hours-long standoffs with her, and I could go on for hours. I understand the desperation. Sometimes having hope can be huge.

    I also believe in practical help. This mineral supplementation program by Dr. Garrett Smith has helped me to slowly start to start to climb out of the pit of anxiety/insomnia/adrenal burnout/ chronic fatigue that has been my reality for many years. It’s not a quick fix or a cure all, but it’s something that is actually helping. As with any human on earth, I don’t agree with everything on his facebook page, but I believe that as far as minerals go, he is spot on.

    Here’s his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DoctorAsTeacher?fref=ts

    We have signed up our daughter to see if it can help with her extreme moodiness/anger outbursts/ stubbornness, etc. Anyway, just something that might provide hope as you continue to search for help for your family. I hope that you find what ever it is that will bring peace to your family very, very soon! Feel free to email/facebook message him if you would like. He helped me via email with some basic mineral supplementation before I was even a paying client.

    Here’s a testimonial from his facebook page:
    Testimonial on the hair analysis for a 4-year-old boy from his mother, he was previously on the GAPS diet, not any more:
    “Today has been officially two weeks that we have started your plan. For the most part, David has been doing well. He no longer has violent outbursts, he is more obedient (I don’t mean to make him sound like a dog, but I don’t know how else to word it), more focused, he can eat things that he hadn’t before (mostly grains and sugar) without total breakdowns, he has 1 bowel movement per day, he is eating more and looks like he is gaining weight. We are very pleased and watching him is why I have so much hope in getting better. Even my husband has agreed to get his hair tested and has made an appointment!”
    We use mineral drops taken in juice or milk for the kiddos, along with other non-pill approaches (like magnesium lotion). Kid programs are quite simple, actually, as the Qi or Vital Force or constitution (whatever you choose to call it) is still very strong and active in them, so they respond beautifully. My own kids have not gotten sick once, even while going to preschool, since they started the program…other parents are even taking note of this.

    Anyway, just something else to consider. Something else to possibly give you a ray of hope that life might actually get better.

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