Dear Belleruth,

Right now I’m really struggling with a really rocky roller coaster. Yes, everyone deals with a roller coaster but it’s really hard on me because I am a mother and a father to my son. I want the best for him and sometimes I catch myself wanting to scream at him. He’s only ten months old - he doesn’t know the difference. And then again I have days like today... I can’t stop smiling even though yesterday I wanted to yell at him for doing the same thing he’s doing right now.

Being a single parent is awesome but when I get frustrated I just wish his dad was around to help me. I’m really just lost and confused... Don’t know what to do now... I quit smoking two weeks ago and I can already tell that I’m happier. But now I don’t know how else to relieve my stress...

I feel as though sometimes I could be diagnosed with bipolar disorder... It’s really hard to talk to family and friends about this, ‘cause they don’t see what happens behind closed doors and they wouldn’t believe me if I even tried to tell them... they would just say, "Oh no... you’re a good mom..", but sometimes I wonder if that’s really true..


Dear Andrea,

It does sound like you''re under a lot of stress. You''re right - your 10 month old son is just being 10 months old. Screaming at him won''t get him to stop acting like a baby - he is a baby. It will only upset him and create anxiety and lack of confidence in him. I know you don''t want him growing up afraid of you and feeling lousy about himself.

So I guess the key is to find ways for you to get support - real support that''s available. Longing for this little guy''s father, who evidently does not intend to be around, will just lead to more disappointment, anger and resentment... and could result in more anger and resentment towards your son. It would be sad but it would help if you could let go of that wish for the father to be involved, grieve that relationship and move on. I know, it’s easier said than done... but it''s probably the best thing to do.

You don’t sound like you’re bipolar, but you could be depressed. Do you think you could get to a counselor, to talk to and maybe help you evaluate your current condition? It could be a passing, situational thing - after all, you’ve just had a baby, quit smoking (good for you, but that could be messing with your mood, too!), suffered the loss of a relationship ... you’re probably much more confined and stuck in the house than you’re used to ... and you’ve got this needy little guy who’s totally dependent on you! Any one of these things would be a tough challenge to deal with!

Do you have a trustworthy friend or neighbor you could confide in? It may be a very good idea to tell somebody how hard this is on you, how angry you get, and to please stop telling you what a good parent you are - this just isolates you further. What you need is for somebody to listen to you!

If nobody fills the bill, what about joining a support group? There might be something in your community for single parent support or for anger management. (I can''t tell how old you are, but if you''re a teenager, there are probably even more support groups, social service programs or one-on-one partnership programs.)

Another place you could go - especially if you have trouble talking about these issues face to face - is the internet. There are some terrific single parent support groups there. A lot of close relationships and lifelines have been established in a chat room of people who feel just like you do.

You also probably need to structure weekly time for yourself away from your baby, so you can catch a break and get some time to yourself to decompress..... you''ll also appreciate him more for having been away from him. Is there anyone who can take care of your son for a few hours a week that you trust? Is there a church that offers some reasonable day care or a way for you to trade skills? Or even an exercise or yoga class that has built-in babysitting... An art class at the Y... Any of these things could help take the edge off your exasperation. I know that if you''re holding down a job, that''s even more difficult. And if you’re depressed, you may not feel like doing anything. But something that isn''t work or baby care might be exactly what you need, if you can swing it.

And of course, guided imagery can help. I’d recommend Relaxation & Wellness for starters or our Heal Your Emotional Heart Pack, which contains Anger & Forgiveness and Heartbreak, Abandonment and Betrayal, plus Dr. Emmett Miller’s Accepting Change and Moving on. Yoga would be great for you too. Shiva Rea’s Radiant Heart Yoga might be a good fit, since it helps promote inner peace, energy and joy. These things will help to balance your mood. Once you begin to feel more hopeful and less overwhelmed, you might want to try Healthy Self Esteem or Self-Esteem during Sleep, by Dr. Traci Stein. For the little guy, I would suggest the gentle sounds and baby vocals of Lovely Baby, or if he has any sleep problems, Lovely, Sleepy Baby, by Raimond Lap.

I do hope you can take the heat off your anger and frustration by finding ways to nourish yourself, in spite of all the difficulties. This too shall pass! Stay in touch.