My Ugly Truth About Parenting a Difficult Child (AKA Writing While Mothering)


I have a confession to make.  Revealing this is not easy for me—

“Mommy!  Alex is outside.  You HAVE to let me play with him,” squealed my seven year old through the wide open front door, as a million bugs danced a conga line into my living room.

“Ok, Max.  But, stay in the yard.”

“Why do I have to stay in the yard all the time?”

He was gone before I could answer.

I have a confession to make.  Revealing this is not easy for me, but I’m afraid if I keep it in any longer—

“You want me to pick up dinner on the way home?” texted my husband.


I have a confession to make.  Revealing this is not easy for me, but I’m afraid if I keep it in any longer, I’ll lose my mind.

“What do you want?”

“Surprise me.” I texted back.

There’s this kid who lives next door.  He’s 5.  He’s polite, kind, and cooperative.  As kids go, he’s damn near perfect.

Even though my only child has most of the qualities that his five year old best friend Alex does, most people don’t get to see that side, because he has a touch of what they call oppositional defiance disorder.  It’s a complicated diagnosis, but in simple terms, he basically says NO to every—

[Ding Dong]

Who the hell is at the door?  Maybe they’ll just go away.

—thing.  Not just the typical things kids resist like brushing their teeth, taking a bath, or eating their—

[Ding Dong, Ding Dong]


“Hello, ma’am, I’m from the blah blah blah …”

When did I become a ma’am? 

“Sorry, not interested.”  I said, closing the door.

Fucking solicitors.

—vegetables.  He also objects to things he really enjoys, like ice cream or going to the movies.  And by objects, I mean he will fling-himself-on-the-floor-at-Target-screaming-bloody-murder-so-the-entire-world-thinks-you’re-the-world’s-worst-parent type of objection.

The thing I’m loath to admit is I—

“Mommy!  Alex is trying to get me to ride bikes, but I don’t WANT TO RIDE BIKES!”

Fuck my life.

“Max, you don’t have to ride bikes if you don’t want to.  You could ride your scooter instead.”

“I HATE my scooter,” he screeched like a howler monkey.

He loves his scooter.

“Time to eat.  I’ve got Chinese food,” said his dad, having just arrived home.

“No!  I HATE Chinese food!” Max said, kicking the curb.

He doesn’t.

“I am NOT eating that!”

I left him there with his father, wondering how many times he’d kick the curb ’til it drew blood or tears.

—hate him.

I hate my son’s best friend, not because he’s bad, but because of how good he is.

How his mother never has to ask him more than once to brush his teeth, comb his hair, or get in the motherfucking bathtub.

How he picks up all of the toys at the end of playtime without arguing.

How he is going off to Kindergarten this year and will be THAT child in the first row sitting crisscross applesauce and hanging on the teacher’s every word, while children like mine are made to sit in a chair 8 feet away from all the other kids because they “fail to obey classroom rules.”

He also won’t be rejected by the other children or teased relentlessly for being “difficult” or a “troublemaker.”

What bothers me most about having Alex around is it shines a Broadway-sized spotlight on my child’s imperfections on a daily basis.


Please let it be tears and not blood this time.

“Mommy!  It hurts!  I neeeeeeed a Bandaid!”

Oh my fucking god.

“Okay, I’ll get–”

“I’ll get you one!” Alex interrupts, tearing off toward his house.

He comes running back with an entire box of Bandaids, leaving a trail of them on the lawn.

It shines the spotlight on me as well, revealing how flawed I am as a person, as a mother, in not appreciating and showing patience toward this five year old child.  I just wish it wasn’t my son who was always seen as the surly, disagreeable one.  You know?

“You wanna smash Matchbox cars?” asked Alex.

“Sure!  Great idea,” said Max.

“Awesome.  You’re my best friend in the whoooole world,” said Alex.

“You’re mine too,” said Max.

“I am?” said Alex.

“Yeah, sure you are,” said Max with a grin.

Chinese food straight out of the carton never tasted so good.


I am honored that this piece was featured on Discover by WordPress and chosen as one of their “Best of 2016” in the Parenting category!

Image credit:

130 thoughts on “My Ugly Truth About Parenting a Difficult Child (AKA Writing While Mothering)

  1. I am absolutely in love with this story. Most days, I feel they same way about my beautiful but argumentative 10 year old. You, ma’am (not disrespect intended, I’m a southerner, hehe) are an inspiration! I started blogging as an outlet for my feelings and emotions. I enjoy telling stories about my past because it’s both tumultuous and exhilarating. It’s good to know we mothers can express our feelings and still be accepted by our peers! Even when our feelings might not be accepted my the vast majority! Happy writing to you! Keep up the excellent work!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi again! Would you be interested in composing a short guest post on something to do with literature for my blog?


      2. Great! No reading required — wouldn’t have to be high brow – could be about books you like in general, or public library in your part of the world, etc. Something less than 300 words.


  2. I think this is something every parent faces at some point. I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world but sometimes I see that “perfect” chold and think juat what if it could be mine. .hang in there.. it has to get better!


  3. I have a very defiant and smarty pants five year old. Not saying I knew exactly what you’re going through, but I understand it to a degree. Kids text our patience and sometimes we have to write it out, have a glass of wine, or sometimes maybe both!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. There’s nothing us mom’s like better than admitting our faults (like I did in the post) and having someone come along and say we are not grateful enough and pity ourselves. I’m going to go ahead and assume you don’t have any children and have perhaps not experienced the unique day to day love/hate struggle that is parenting. I invite you to return to my page when you either have a child with ODD or have one over for the day. Until then…


  5. I am sitting here in tears because I felt like you were talking about my son. We’ve been told that he has ADHD which is common, but I noticed he seems more moody than anything. I began to research mood disorder and ODD came up. At first I just thought it was another thing they just came up with to describe difficult kids, but its so much more than that. It so much more because we have these difficult kids that have the desire to be like easier more enjoyable kids. My son broke me down when he said “I don’t want to be angry all the time, and I’m scared I’m going to grow up like this.” ODD is real and hard and scary and did I say hard. Awesome read and thanks for not letting me know I’m not alone.


  6. I have never heard of that disorder before but I can’t imagine how (frustrating?) it might be to have a No answer everytime.

    Is it going to change over the years?

    It might be difficult but you will get through it. I am sure you well. *Hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great article, my six year old is a “difficult” child, sometimes he is just an ass hole. my blog yesterday kind of summed him up if you fancied a read. I think max and my son would probably love egging each other on! or screaming “NO” at each other at least! thanks for making me feel less alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh sweetie, I know ODD is hatd to live with. Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it doesn’t. We got lucky with my middle boy. He has inproved drastically as he’s gotten older. As an adult is ODD has taken on a new life 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Parenting is a dirty, messy job at times. Thanks for sharing in such a marvelous, vivid way that made me feel as if I were standing in your living room (if that’s where you write).

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s